What Plants Do Butterflies Love?

Ensuring that your backyard or outdoor space is suitable for pollinators is a great way to help the environment, specifically your local ecosystem. We all know that bees are important for pollination and need to be protected, but butterflies don’t get as much attention as they should.

If you want to attract more butterflies to your backyard, then adding butterfly-friendly flowers is the best way to do this. Remember, not all plants have pollen, even some flowers have little to no pollen, so these won’t be useful.

The best plants for butterflies are:

  • Bowles’ Mauve
  • Buddleja
  • Centaurea nigra
  • Common Knapweed
  • Field Scabious
  • Hebe
  • Hemp-agrimony
  • Red Valerian
  • Sedum
  • Verbena
  • Wild Marjoram

Are butterflies attracted to geraniums?

Butterflies are attracted to geraniums but they aren’t the best for attracting butterflies. They are by no means bad, nor do they deter butterflies, but there are other flowers that will attract butterflies more.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have geraniums in your garden, they are beautiful flowers and are very hardy. They should just be included sparingly compared to other flowers that attract butterflies more.

It’s fine to have a varied garden. Actually, it’s a good thing to have a diverse ecosystem, just make sure that there are a few pollinator-friendly flowers in there.

What do I need for a butterfly garden?

A butterfly garden needs plants and flowers that are going to specifically attract butterflies. There are lots of flowers and plants that are full of pollen, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that butterflies will like them. Bees and butterflies are both pollinators but prefer different flowers.

So, it’s a good idea to have a range of the flowers listed in the first section of this article. You can have a garden entirely made up of flowers that butterflies will love as this will be a fantastic way to support your local ecosystem.

It might not save the planet from the dangers of the climate emergency, but it will definitely make an impact on your local area.

But flowers aren’t all you need for your butterfly garden to thrive, you need a few extra features as well.

One really important feature is a drinking bowl. This might be a bit surprising but pollinators are hard workers and need somewhere to stop for a drink. We all know bird baths are useful in gardens but pollinators need a little help too.

Due to their small size, butterflies need something slightly different from a birdbath.

If you have a birdbath, then you can use this but need to alter it a little. Place some small pebbles in the bath and add water until the pebbles are around ¾ of the way covered. The pebbles allow the butterflies to sit on top of the pebbles and have a drink.

If the pebbles are submerged, the water can hurt the butterflies or cause them to fall in the water.

Unlike birds, the delicate and small nature of butterflies means that they will struggle in the water. Without the pebbles, even sitting on the side of the bath, they risk falling or drowning. 

If you don’t have a birdbath, you can use a shallow bowl or even a deep plant pot saucer.

Another important feature is somewhere for the butterflies to lay their eggs. They usually do this on vegetable plants or herbs. This won’t damage the plants but will give the eggs somewhere safe to be laid and hatch. This is a really important and useful part of a butterfly garden.

Which butterfly bush attracts the most butterflies?

Butterfly bushes are Buddleja bushes. These are one of the flowers mentioned in the first section of this article. There are a number of different types of Buddleja and all of them are great for attracting butterflies to your garden.

There are a number of Buddleja bushes that are especially good at attracting butterflies. These are:

  • Buddleja x Weyeriana or “Pink Pagoda”
  • Buddleja Sugar Plum or “Lonplum”
  • Buddleja Davidii “Summer House Blue”
  • Buddleja Davidii “White profusion”
  • Buddleja Davidii “Autumn Delight”

These are all beautiful flowers of many different colors. A great butterfly garden would incorporate a number of different Buddleja. None of these bushes are any better than the others, so using a range is a great way to add some color and variety to the garden.

Bright colors also attract butterflies, so a range is a really good option. Most of these Buddleja bushes look the same but they do have some shape variation. So, if you don’t really like the look of Buddleja, you have some options.

Which trees attract butterflies?

Trees aren’t the first type of plant that people would go to for pollen, especially not evergreen trees that never have blossom. But some trees do have a good amount of pollen that will attract butterflies.

Trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, holly, and bramble are all good for butterflies.

Hawthorn is especially good as it has a lot of beautiful flowers. These are great if you don’t want to harsher holly and bramble in your garden.

But these are actually really beautiful when they grow into bushes and have a lot of ground cover, so are very useful if you need to fill space or are trying to block weeds from coming up.

Ivy is also a good source of nectar in the fall. “Pollen” and “nectar” are sometimes used interchangeably but this isn’t quite accurate.

Nectar is different from pollen and is used by pollinators as food. This means that ivy can be a useful plant to attract butterflies to your garden so they can fill up.

As mentioned above, butterflies like to lay their eggs on herbs. The best herbs for this are rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and mint.

Having butterflies lay eggs on herbs might be a little irritating if you intend to use the herbs for cooking. This means it’s a good idea to have a dedicated herb garden for butterflies to use for egg-laying, but a different selection of herbs to be used for cooking.

Of course, you cannot stop butterflies from laying eggs on specific plants, so it’s best to keep these herbs in a greenhouse or indoors.

What color flowers are butterflies attracted to?

Butterflies are attracted to bright colors. They are especially attracted to violet flowers. This means the best for butterflies are purple Buddleja and Centaurea nigra. Centaurea nigra are common wildflowers that are native to Europe but have been introduced to the US.

It is a tall and pretty wildflower that can be relatively easily grown. Wildflowers are always a good option as they attract pollinators and are pretty hardy plants.

They don’t need much attention and thrive well in most environments. So you can essentially sprinkle some seeds, water them when needed, and leave them to it.

Other colors that butterflies like are orange, pink, white, and yellow. It’s best to find flowers of these colors, especially ones that bloom through to fall, if not during fall.

We associate butterflies with spring and summer but they do still hang around through fall, especially if you live somewhere with warmer weather. So the best flowers for butterflies are those with bright colors of a high frequency that bloom for a long time.

What colors do butterflies not like?

Butterflies don’t necessarily dislike specific colors, instead, they are simply more attracted to others. This is because they are partially colorblind.

Butterflies are generally blind to colors of a low frequency, such as red. This means it’s a good idea to avoid planting red flowers. Butterflies won’t avoid them but will instead not be drawn to them and so will not pollinate them.

Do any plants repel butterflies?

There are some articles available online that suggest plants and flowers that deter butterflies. This is because some people, sadly and inaccurately, consider butterflies to be pests.

In fact, butterflies are really important players in the ecosystem; without pollinators, our earth would be in a lot of trouble (even more than it already is!)

But, these articles are useful to tell you which plants to avoid adding to your garden. Attracting butterflies to your garden is not only good for the environment but it is good for your garden.

Pollinators are important for keeping your garden thriving and healthy. Butterflies are also sweet and beautiful creatures so will make your garden even more joyful.

So, the plants to avoid adding to your garden are those with a low presence of pollen. Flowers like roses, lilies, sweet peas, and camellias.

These flowers still have some pollen and are beautiful so should not be avoided entirely, but it’s best to keep these flowers limited if you’re specifically trying to attract butterflies. 

What plants do butterflies eat?

As well as pollen, butterflies need nectar for food. They also need other flowers and plants to land or sit on. The best plants for butterflies to feed from and land on are:

  • Milkweed,
  • Joe-Pye Weed
  • Showy Stonecrop
  • Garden Phlox
  • Blazing Star
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Goldenrod
  • Zinnia

Thankfully, there are a lot of flowers that butterflies are attracted to. They love bright colors and flowers with lots of pollen and nectar.

Building a butterfly garden is a great way to make your garden a useful addition to your local ecosystem, as well as a beautiful and peaceful space. Butterflies are amazing creatures that are essential to the health of the environment.

As mentioned above, bees get a lot of attention due to their well-known pollinating, but butterflies are also essential pollinators that definitely need to be protected and cared for.