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Butterfly Plants

By: Garden Gate staff
What plants are favorites for butterflies who need a quick energy snack? Well, it varies with the butterfly. But to point you in the right direction, here are some well-known garden flowers and the butterflies who find them tasty. This … Continue reading →
Monarch butterfly What plants are favorites for butterflies who need a quick energy snack? Well, it varies with the butterfly. But to point you in the right direction, here are some well-known garden flowers and the butterflies who find them tasty. This list is by no means complete — there are so many butterflies and so many plants they like. Put a few of these favorites in your garden. Then as butterflies arrive for lunch, watch to see what else they feast on. Next year, be sure to add more of those plants to your garden.


Plant name
Aster Aster spp.
Sleepy orange, painted lady, checkered skipper, sachem, silver-spotted skipper, monarch, red admiral
Bee balm Monarda spp.
Painted lady, Milbert’s tortoise shell, mourning cloak, eastern swallowtail
Blanket flower
Great spangled fritillary, cloudless sulphur, clouded sulphur, alfalfa butterfly, silvery checkerspot, red admiral, monarch, giant swallowtail
Blazing star Liatris spp.
Painted lady, fritillary
Butterfly weed
Asclepias tuberosa
Monarch, blue swallowtail, Gorgone checkerspot, spicebush swallowtail, coral hairstreak, mourning cloak
Chicory Cichorium intybus
Little sulphur
Coreopsis Coreopsis spp.
Silver-spotted skipper, pearl crescent, American painted lady, great spangled fritillary, spring azure
Garden mum Chrysanthemum xmorifolium
Monarch, cloudless sulphur
Garden phlox
Phlox paniculata
Silvery checkerspot, blue swallowtail, black swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail
Globe thistle Echinops ritro
Painted lady, gray hairstreak
Goldenrod Solidago spp.
Monarch, clouded sulphur, alfalfa butterfly, eastern tailed blue, viceroy
Grape hyacinth
Silver-spotted skipper, clouded sulphur, alfalfa butterfly
Joe-Pye weed
Monarch, viceroy, painted lady
Moss phlox Phlox subulata
Black swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, pearl crescent, painted lady
Peony Paeonia officinalis
Spicebush swallowtail, silver-spotted skipper, Peck’s skipper, tawny-edged skipper, little wood satyr
Purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea
Spicebush swallowtail, silver-spotted skipper, tawny-edged skipper, sachem, wood nymph, great spangled fritillary, harvester, eastern tailed blue
Red clover Trifolium pratense
Pearl crescent, alfalfa butterfly, little sulphur, spicebush swallowtail
Salvia Salvia xsuperba
Cloudless sulphur, hoary edge
Tall sedum
Sedum spectabile
Silver-spotted skipper, sachem, pepper and salt skipper, pearl crescent, painted lady, buckeye, monarch, grey hairstreak


Plant name
Cosmos Cosmos spp.
Sachem, silvery checkerspot, pearl crescent, buckeye, alfalfa butterfly, cloudless sulphur
Impatiens walleriana
Cloudless sulphur
Lantana Lantana spp.
Buckeye, alfalfa butterfly, pearl crescent, fiery skipper, red admiral, monarch, gulf fritillary
Marigold Tagetes spp.
Sleepy orange, silvery checkerspot, pearl crescent, buckeye, clouded sulphur, alfalfa butterfly, dog face, cloudless sulphur, little sulphur, dainty sulphur, great spangled fritillary
Mexican sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia
Painted lady
Petunia Petunia hybrids
Spicebush swallowtail, European butterfly, cloudless sulphur, Peck’s skipper, Zabulon skipper
Verbena canadensis
Cloudless sulphur, blue swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, black swallowtail
Zinnia Zinnia elegans
Sachem, pepper and salt skipper, roadside skipper, Southern cloudy wing, great spangled fritillary, silvery checkerspot, pearl crescent, painted lady, red spotted purple, variegated fritillary, monarch, alfalfa butterfly

Shrubs & Vines

Plant name
Butterfly bush Buddleja spp.
Blue swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, cloudless sulphur, fiery skipper
Hydrangea Hydrangea spp.
Little wood satyr
Lilac Syringa vulgaris
Blue swallowtail, zebra swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail
Wisteria Wisteria floribunda
Hoary edge, sleepy orange, olive hairstreak
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