What is Your Best Flower Source for Butterflies?

Swallowtail Butterfly on Tall Phlox

Swallowtail Butterfly on Tall Phlox

Butterflies are a gardeners delight as they flutter and swoop through our gardens. Their bright colors and beauty bring a welcome addition to our gardens as long as the benefit they provide with pollinating our flowers. Attracting butterflies involves incorporating plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly. They need a place to lay eggs, food plants for the larva (caterpillar), a place to form a chrysalis, and nectar sources for the adult. Most butterflies can live up to 10-20 days but the Monarch (pictured below) can live up to 6 months.

Butterflies attract to flowers that are red, orange, yellow, purple and pink. The style flower they most prefer are flat topped (like Tall phlox)&  short tubes (like Buddleia). They like flowers that have clusters of flowers all grouped together. Also sun light is important as butterflies generally like to feed while basking in the sun.

One of my personal favorites for attracting butterflies in the Tall Garden Phlox. I have several Phlox clumped together in an area in my garden. I have chosen several different Phlox colors to create a patchwork of color that has been a true butterfly attraction.

Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias

Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias

Common Butterflies and the Plants they Eat

  • Acmon Blue – buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
  • American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
  • Baird’s Swallowtail – dragon sagebrush
  • Black Swallowtail – parsley, dill, fennel, Queen Anne’s lace, common rue
  • Cabbage White – members of mustard family
  • Coral Hairstreak – wild black cherry, American and chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
  • Dun Skipper – sedges, grasses including purpletop
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
  • Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
  • Gray Comma – gooseberry, azalea, elm
  • Great Purple Hairstreak – mistletoe
  • Gulf Fritillary – maypops, other passion vines
  • Henry’s Elfin – redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple-leaved viburnum, blueberries
  • Monarch – milkweeds
  • Painted Lady (Cosmopolite) – thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
  • Pygmy Blue – saltbush, lamb’s quarters, pigweed
  • Red Admiral/White Admiral – wild cherries, black oaks, aspens, yellow and black birch
  • Silver-spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
  • Spicebush Swallowtail – sassafras, spicebush
  • Sulphurs – clover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
  • Variegated Fritillary – passion flower, maypop, violets, stonecrop, purslane
  • Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
  • Western Tailed Blue – vetches, milkvetches
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
  • Woodland Skipper – grasses
  • Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw
Butterfly plant source from www.nwf.org

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