Get ready to greet monarchs, tiger swallowtails, and more.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated June 01, 2019
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As if bringing color, beauty, and fantastic scents to your yard wasn't enough, here's another reason to plant a flower garden: to attract butterflies. Depending upon the area you live in, choosing the right flowers could reward you with monarch, tiger swallowtail, and red admiral sightings. And lucky for us, because many species of butterflies are attracted to vibrant colors, butterfly-friendly blooms also lend bold color to the garden. Whether you already have a large flower garden or are looking to start one this spring, here are 7 of the best flowers for butterflies. Before making your picks, be sure to check out which hardiness zone each plant thrives best in. Not sure what zone you're in? Look up your USDA Hardiness Zone here.

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With their cheery purple and pink blooms, it's no wonder asters attract butterflies. Plant asters in well-drained soil, in a spot that gets full sun, and these perennials will draw winged beauties to your yard year after year. 

Hardiness Zones: 3-8

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With dense arrangements of blooms, yarrow offers a lush landing pad for butterflies. Better yet: it's easy to care for. Yarrow can deal with dry soil, but prefers full sunlight. It will attract plenty of butterflies to your garden, but is also deer-resistant.

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

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As its name suggests, this plant with lush purple blossoms is a favorite among butterflies. The one catch: it is now categorized as invasive in some states, so search for and only shop new "seedless" cultivars of butterfly bush that won't spread to the surrounding area.

Butterfly bush grows best in fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. To keep the vibrant flowers (and beautiful butterflies!) coming back, be sure to deadhead spent blooms.

Hardiness Zones: 5-10

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Just when we thought soothing-scented lavender couldn't get any better, we learn that the pretty purple stalks will also lure butterflies into our garden. Lavender attracts all types of pollinators, so it will also boost the bee count in your backyard. It thrives in drier soil and areas with low humidity. 

Pro tip: According to the plant pros at Costa Farms, darker blooms and those that are just about to open smell the strongest.

Hardiness Zones: 5-9 

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If some flowers get all of the attention, coneflower makes the list. Its pink, yellow, and orange petals surround the signature cone-shaped center, attracting songbirds and butterflies to the garden. Like many other flowers for butterflies, coneflowers thrive in well-drained soil, can tolerate drought, and prefer full sun.

Hardiness Zones: 3-9 (thrive in 5-8)

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This flower produces oversized spheres of brightly colored petals, signaling to butterflies with its dramatic blooms. Alliums are related to onions and garlic, so many species will have a subtle scent that helps repel deer and rodents, at the same time attracting pollinators. Plant them in soil with adequate drainage and pick a spot in your yard that receives full sunlight.

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

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Milkweed is crucial to the survival of monarch butterflies, since caterpillars of this species only eat milkweed. But to avoid doing more harm than good, be careful which type of milkweed you plant. While tropical milkweed can affect monarch butterflies' migration patterns, native species of milkweed do not interfere with migration. Check out this list of native milkweeds in the U.S.