Best Plants for Butterflies

Purple coneflower -- a classic plant for butterflies for sunny, loamy sites.

Purple coneflower -- a classic plant for butterflies for sunny, loamy sites.

Friday's post on the best plants for bees and other pollinators has been very popular, so we wanted to follow up with this post on Heather Holm's suggestions for the best plants for butterflies. Heather is a Minnesota gardener and expert on pollinators. Her book, Pollinators of Native Plants, has been favorably reviewed in Northern Gardener and a variety of other publications, and she is a wonderful speaker on topics related to native plants and pollinators.

We heard her speak most recently at the East Metro Spring Fling, which is where she handed out her plant lists. Here are her recommendations for best plants for butterflies for different sun and soil conditions.

Spotted Joe Pye weed likes sun and moist soil.

Spotted Joe Pye weed likes sun and moist soil.

Sunny, Sandy Sites

  • Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)
  • Prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa)
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
  • Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida)
  • Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Sunny, Loamy Sites

  • Meadow blazing star (ˆLiatris ligulistylis)
  • Stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida)
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea pupurea)
  • Smooth oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides)
  • Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)

Sunny, Moist Sites

  • Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
  • New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
  • Common boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  • Spotted Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
  • Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

2 Comments

  1. […] Goldenrod and asters are much like milkweed in that they create a community; beyond the bees and butterflies you’ll find syrphid flies, beetles and many other insects. Goldfinches, tree sparrows, prairie chickens and wild turkeys eat the seeds, while rabbits and deer will browse the foliage. […]

  2. […] it blooms later, it provides garden interest from late-spring emergence through early autumn. Good companion plants include those that bloom earlier as well as low-growing, colorful plants in a pollinator garden or […]

Leave a Comment