butterfly11Butterfly Garden

Different species of butterflies have different preferences of nectar, in both colors and tastes. A wide variety of food plants will give the greatest diversity of visitors. Try staggering wild and cultivated plants, as well as blooming times of the day and year. Groups of the same plants will be easier for butterflies to see than singly planted flowers.

Another way to attract adult butterflies to your yard is to offer places (food plants) for females to lay their eggs. Some females are pickier about which host to lay their eggs on than others. A few specific examples of butterflies and their host plants are listed at the end of this fact sheet.

Butterflies also like puddles. Males of several species congregate at small rain pools, forming puddle clubs. Permanent puddles are very easy to make by burying a bucket to the rim, filling it with gravel or sand, and then pouring in liquids such as stale beer, sweet drinks or water. Overripe fruit, allowed to sit for a few days is a very attractive substance (to them!) as well.

Information from U.K. College of Agriculture / Stephanie Bailey, Extension Specialist


Aster (Aster species)
Bee-balm (Monarda didyma)
Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia species)
Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis species)
Daisy, Shasta (Chrysanthemum maximum)
Daylily (Hemerocallis species)
False indigo (Baptisia australis)
Gayfeather (Liatris species)
Goldenrod (Solidago species)
Hibiscus (Hibiscus species)
Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)
Passion flower (Passiflora species)
Phlox (Phlox paniculata, P. carolina)
Sage (Salvia leucantha; Salvia species)
Sedum (Sedum species)
Verbena (Verbena species)
Yarrow (Achillea species


Trees and Shrubs

Mock orange
Rose of sharon


Butterfly Nectar Preferences and Larval Food Plants

Buckeye Butterfly

• Larval food plant:snapdragon
• Nectar: aster, milkweed chickory, coreopsis

Great Swallowtail

• Larval food plant: citrus trees, prickly ash
• Japanese honeysuckle, milkweed, lilac, goldenrod, azalea


• Larval food plant: milkweed
• Nectar: milkweed, butterfly bush, goldenrod, thistle, ironweed, mint

Mourning Cloak

• Larval food plant: willow, elm, poplar, aspen, birch, hackberry
• Nectar: rotting fuit & sap, butterfly bush, milkweed, shasta daisy

Painted Lady

• Larval food plant: daisy, hollyhock
• Nectar: goldenrod, aster, zinnia, butterfly bush, milkweed

Red Admiral

• Larval food plant: nettle
• Nectar: rotting fruit and sap, daisy, aster, goldenrod, butterfly bush,
• milkweed

Tiger Swallowtail

• Larval food plant: cherry, ash, birch, tulip tree, lilac
• Nectar: butterfly bush, milkweed, Japanese honeysuckle, phlox, lilac, ironweed