30 Showy Plants That Attract Butterflies to Create Aflutter

Hello, my lovely friends! Wanna do something that enchanting, enjoyable and easy to take care of biodiversity? How about growing some plants? with flowers of course! Also how cool would it be with some butterflies? Then come with me to learn about the plants that attract butterflies, the best way to care for and save our nature.

Butterflies were one of the first-ever botanists this earth had. They symbolize ‘hope out of disgust’ – from the small and dull crawly caterpillars come the splendid and dramatic butterflies. Then why to wait? Let us glide down to see how to attract these flutters that give life to plants and joy to us.

  • Host Plants  – Plants on which the adult lays the egg, caterpillars can feed and then form a pupa
  • Nectar Plants – have flowers providing nectar as food for the adult butterflies
  • A well-lit sunny spot – Butterflies love sunlight and also the plant for producing flowers
  • Mudpuddles – Butterflies love to play in marshy waters and puddles in mud. Thus a well-watered soil with small puddles will attract the butterflies
  • Rocks or stones – During their visits for nectar, they do rest a bit, especially on rocks and stones. Do add some rocks and stones as they also make a beautiful addition to the garden plants.
  • Fences – Butterflies like to be adventurous and they like crossing fences and enjoying their freedom! Let’s then give them fun fences for excitement and adventure.

Come with me to discover the plants that attract butterflies as hosts and those that provide nectar.

Host plants are those that provide food and shelter to the butterflies in their earlier life stages – egg, larval and pupal stages. The adults lay the eggs on the plant or its vicinity and larvae from it feed on the leaf of the plant and once matured, form a pupa on the plant. Not all plants host all the butterflies and specificities do exist which we will discover further.

This common Indian culinary essential, kadi patta, is the favourite host for the beautiful swallowtail butterflies. This plant that attract butterflies, serves as a host plant for laying eggs, leaves as food for the larvae and the formation of the pupa.

Curry Leaf | Plants that attract butterflies
Curry Leaf

Oleander is a commonly grown house plant that attracts butterflies and supports them in the initial stages of egg, larva and pupa. The leaves are the most preferred food for the bold Daphinis moth and the common crow butterfly.

Arali | Plants that attract butterflies
Arali

With its flowers, this tree grabs the attention of both people and butterflies. The leaves host the yellow-coloured sulphur butterflies and the Silverline butterflies and as a nectar source for the Black Rajah butterflies. It is an apt choice among the plants that attract butterflies and bees. 

Golden Shower | Plants that attract butterflies
Golden Shower

Citrus species are common plants that butterflies are attracted to as a feeding ground for the larvae. Swallowtail butterfly larvae feed extensively on the leaves and pupate in this plant. Citrus plants are a great addition when creating a butterfly garden. 

Lemon | Plants that attract butterflies
Lemon

“Milkweeds are for Monarchs”. Yes, these are plants that attract monarch butterflies and are very essential in their life cycle as their only host plant. Beautiful bunches of flowers and the bold monarch butterflies aflutter are indeed serene to look at!

Milkweed | Plants that attract butterflies
Milkweed
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These are vining plants that attract birds and butterflies for nectar and as a host. The divine and bright flowers attract hummingbirds for nectar. Larvae of the Heliconius sp. and the Tawny coaster butterfly feed on the leaves of this plant. 

Passion Fruit | Plants that attract butterflies
Passion Fruit

These tall and bold avenue trees have bunches of red and orange-coloured flowers which are butterfly’s favourite. The handsome foliage of this tree is the food for the larvae of the Tailed jay butterflies thus attracting them in large numbers.

Ashoka Tree | Plants that attract butterflies
Ashoka Tree

It is a vining plant with heart-shaped leaves and giant flowers that have a marble violet-coloured pattern making it unique in its appearance. Do you know the thick leaf growth is not only apt for training in trellis and fences but also a good food for caterpillars of Crimson Rose, Southern Birdwing, and Pipevine Swallowtails.

Dutchman's Pipe | Plants that attract butterflies
Dutchman’s Pipe

Nectar Plants That Attract Butterflies

Once the pupa has matured and becomes a butterfly, it needs nectar for food from the flowers. Though all flowers produce nectar, not all attract butterflies. Flutter along with me to explore the various flowers that produce nectar and attract the butterflies.

These bright and bold flowers in yellow, orange and pink are not to be missed in your butterfly garden. Planting these as flower beds in a nice warm and sunny spot blooms from summer till fall season, attracting various butterflies and bees. They are self-seeding too which means new plants grow from the previous season’s seeds not needing our intervention. Isn’t that nice?

Cosmos | Plants that attract butterflies
Cosmos

Zinnias are must-haves in the butterfly garden as these are plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds too. These easy-peasy annuals in pink, orange and red attract monarchs and swallowtails and lots more. Plant the single-petaled variety to attract fluttery friends.

Zinnia | Plants that attract butterflies
Zinnia

Want a plant that is beneficial and also attractive, then it is Marigold for sure. These are plants that attract bees and butterflies by providing nectar and also repel certain harmful insects affecting your garden by acting as a host for predators like ladybugs. Making a flower bed in a sunny spot is all that is needed to attract those pretty butterflies.

Marigold | Plants that attract butterflies
Marigold

The bunches and spikes in velvety red and pink invite Blue tigers, Glassy tigers, Peacock pansy butterflies and bees to the garden. Let me give an idea just for you! Flowerbeds of cockscomb, a brightly lit sunny spot and consistent watering are enough for the healthy growth of the plant and of course to attract our butterfly friends.

Cocks Comb | Plants that attract butterflies
Cock’s Comb

Globe amaranth plants are herbaceous annual plants that butterflies cannot resist visiting as the purple-coloured bracts of this flower are everlasting and bright. The Monarch butterflies, Orange sulfurs and Skipper butterflies visit this plant for nectar. These plants are drought tolerant and hence grow well in a full sun area with moderate watering.

Globe Amaranth | Plants that attract butterflies
Globe Amaranth
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This is an annual plant that attracts butterflies of the Pierrot species with its cup-shaped flowers in white, pink, red and mixed shades. Balsam plants grow well in moist soil and sunny spots and best suited for growing in pots. Self-seeding nature of this plant keeps its continuous presence in the garden. 

Balsam | Plants that attract butterflies
Balsam

Petunias are plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies with their vibrant tubular blooms. Petunia plants can be grown in hanging baskets making it the best choice to attract butterflies in a small garden. Provide a fully sunny spot and adequate watering for the happy growth of petunias.

Petunia | Plants that attract butterflies
Petunia

This summer flowering perennial plant that attracts butterflies provides copious amounts of nectar for the butterflies to feed on. It is an ornamental plant with pink or purple flowers in clusters. It attracts many species of butterflies including the Monarchs, Skippers, Sulfurs, Swallowtails, Painted lady butterflies, Eastern tailed blue butterflies.

Butterfly Bush | Plants that attract butterflies
Butterfly Bush

Belonging to the species of milkweeds, this summer flowering perennial is a host for the Monarch butterflies. Black Swallowtails and bees are attracted for nectar by these yellow-orange flower clusters. Mostly grown wildly, this can be grown in meadows and rock gardens. A full sun spot and moderate watering are required for the butterfly weed plants that attract butterflies and bees.

Butterfly Weed | Plants that attract butterflies
Butterfly Weed

Periwinkles are perennial plants that attract butterflies like the Black Swallowtails and Gulf Fritillaries. It makes our garden twinkle as a shrub or as a ground cover. It is drought-tolerant and blooms almost in all seasons.

Periwinkle | Plants that attract butterflies
Periwinkle

Wedelia is an excellent choice of ground cover in the garden as these are plants that butterflies are attracted to in large numbers. Bordered Patch butterfly caterpillars feed on the leaves of wedelia. Skippers, Plain Tiger butterflies, Grass Yellow butterflies, Monarchs and Swallowtails feed on the nectar from the small yellow flowers that bloom in a bright green carpet from spring through winter.

Wedelia | Plants that attract butterflies
Wedelia

The flowers are petite but vibrant yellow, goldenrods are fall-blooming plants that attract Monarch butterflies, clouded sulfur butterflies, bees, beetles and ants. These flowers are said to feed the migrating butterflies as they grow in the wild. Grow it in the borders of your garden to invite our wonderful winged friends

Goldenrod | Plants that attract butterflies
Goldenrod

Blossoms of purple in a small herbaceous plant that attract butterflies asters flowers profusely in summer. They tolerate drought and grow in full sun to partial shade. They can be grown in hanging pots and containers in the home gardens and as border plants.

Aster | Plants that attract butterflies
Aster

Are you looking for eye-catching blooms with low maintenance then Gazanias are the best choice. These plants that attract bees and butterflies can be grown in containers, hanging pots and rock gardens. They are highly drought tolerant and require full sun for their growth. Flowers of Red, orange, yellow, white and pink blossom profusely in spring and summer inviting a variety of butterflies and bees.

Gazania | Plants that attract butterflies
Gazania

This is a very common plant seen in most home gardens that are easy to grow and are plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The attractive colours, bold sizes and protruding pollen grains make it easy for the butterflies to find and reach the flowers. An extra tip, large red hibiscuses are the butterfly’s favourite.

Hibiscus | Plants that attract butterflies
Hibiscus

This plant attracts many varieties of butterflies like the Common Birdwing, Mormon butterfly Banded Swallowtail and Common Mimes with their large bunches of elegant flowers in red pink white and orange. A flowerbed with this native shrub is all you need to create the space for an enchanting experience for butterflies.

Ixora | Plants that attract butterflies
Ixora

Blue butterflies are common visitors of these perennial plants that attract butterflies. The delicate white showy flowers invite the butterflies for nectar. You can easily grow this plant in home gardens and landscapes and it is easy to maintain too!

Cape Jasmine | Plants that attract butterflies
Cape Jasmine

Among the plants that attract birds and butterflies like Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and Monarchs, Pentas takes a top position. The bunches of flowers in bright colours are magnets to butterflies and hummingbirds for their nectar. Grow this plant in pots or make a flower bed in your garden to sit back and enjoy the graceful flutter.

Pentas | Plants that attract butterflies
Pentas

Commonly used as a hedging plant along the pathways and topiaries, this is also a plant that attract butterflies. Clerodendrum inerme plants are hardy and withstand pruning and training making them must-haves in large lawns and meadows. The strong scent from the leaves and flowers and the elongated stamens with pollen attract butterflies.

Sorcerers Bush | Plants that attract butterflies
Sorcerers Bush

It was originally a weed but later started to cultivate and grow as a flowering shrub and holds a top position in attracting a wide variety of butterflies like Hairstreaks, Swallowtails, Monarchs, Checked whites, Sulfurs, Painted lady and many more. This tough and drought-tolerant plant grows as a trailing type and shrub type making it a good choice in hanging baskets and containers.

Lantana | Plants that attract butterflies
Lantana

Sedums are attractive not only to us but to the butterflies too. The small flowers in bunches does this magic. Monarchs and Fritillaries are commonly attracted by this plant. The succulent nature makes it hardy and flowers bloom in the winter inviting butterflies when most other plants are dormant.

Stonecrop | Plants that attract butterflies
Stonecrop

Portulaca species of plants that attract bees and butterflies are small succulent ground covers with tiny flowers in pink, yellow, orange and white. Here is a pro tip for you to attract butterflies all year round. Just grow table roses of various colours in hanging pots and enjoy their sway in the breeze. 

Tablerose | Plants that attract butterflies
Tablerose

A crisp of the gorgeous butterfly magnets just for you!

S.No.Common NameScientific NameButterflies Attracted
1Curry leafMurraya koenigiiSwallow Tails (host)
2AraliNerium indicumCommon crow butterfly (host)
3Golden showerCassia fistulaSpecies of Eurema, Catopsilia (host)Black Rajah (nectar)
4LemonCitrus sp.Swallow Tails (host)
5Milkweed Asclepias tuberosaMonarch butterfly (host)
6Passion FruitPassiflora edulisTawny coaster butterfly, Heliconius sp. (host)
7False AshokaPolyalthia longifoliaTailed Jay butterfly (host)
8Dutchman’s pipeAristolochia elegansCrimson Rose, Southern Birdwing, Pipevine Swallowtails (host)
9CosmosCosmos bipinnatusVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
10ZinniaZinnia elegansMonarch butterflies, Swallowtails (nectar)
11MarigoldTagetes sp.Various species of butterfly (nectar)
12Cocks combCelosia cristataBlue tigers, Glassy tigers, Peacock pansy (nectar)
13Globe AmaranthGomphrena globosaMonarchs, Orange sulfurs and Skipper butterfly (nectar)
14BalsamImpatiens balsaminaTarucus aka Pierrot species butterflies (nectar)
15PetuniaPetunia hybridaVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
16Butterfly bushBuddleja davidiiMonarchs, Skippers, Sulfurs, Swallowtails, Painted lady butterflies, Eastern tailed blue butterflies (nectar)
17Butterfly weedAsclepias tuberosaMonarch (host & nectar) Black Swallowtails (nectar)
18PeriwinkleCatharanthus roseusSwallowtails, Gulf fritillaries (nectar)
19WedeliaWedelia trilobataBordered Patch butterfly (host), Skippers, Plain Tigers, Grass Yellow butterflies (nectar)
20GoldenrodSolidago sp.Monarchs, Clouded Sulfur butterflies (nectar)
21AsterAster amellusVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
22GazaniaGazania splendensVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
23HibiscusHibiscus rosasinensisVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
24IxoraIxora coccineaCommon Birdwing, Mormon butterfly Banded Swallowtail and Common Mime (nectar)
25Cape JasmineGardenia jasminoidesBlue Butterflies (nectar)
26PentasPentas lanceolatusSwallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs (nectar)
27Sorcerers bush Clerodendrum inermiVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
28LantanaLantana camaraHairstreaks, Swallowtails, Monarchs, Checked whites, Sulfurs, Painted lady (nectar)
29StonecropSedum sp.Monarchs and Fritillaries (nectar)
30TablerosePortulaca grandifloraVarious species of butterfly (nectar)
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Conclusion

Have you ever wondered why the buzzy bees and bright butterflies are important in our ecosystem? It is because they create a balance in nature through their act of pollination which gives rise to the production of fruits and seeds by which the plants grow from one generation to another. Native plants that are becoming extinct can be saved through butterflies. So, instead of using harmful chemicals, butterflies can be encouraged as predators to destroy the pests. In addition to many such benefits, they provide us excitement and happiness with their gentle flutter. 

Shobanaa Krishnan
Shobanaa Krishnan
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