Top Plants for Your Butterfly Garden

Create a best-on-the-block butterfly garden with these must-have plants.


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Butterfly Weed
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Butterfly Weed

    Grow a butterfly weed or two and you're sure to have Monarchs. The adults drink nectar from the plant's summertime orange flowers, and the caterpillars eat the plant's leaves.

    Here's a hint: Add variety to your garden with other milkweeds, such as annual bloodflower or tall swamp milkweed.

    Name: Asclepias tuberosa

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow it with: Liatris, another long-blooming perennial that Monarch butterflies love to visit.

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Aster

    A top plant for the fall garden, aster is a heavy bloomer with colorful flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, red, and white. Aster does double duty: The blossoms supply nectar for fall butterflies, and Pearl Crescent caterpillars feed on the plant's leaves.

    Here's a hint: Look for newer named varieties of asters; they're often more disease resistant and compact.

    Name: Aster selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide, depending on type

    Zones: 3-8, depending on type

    Grow it with: Bloody geranium -- this spring- and summer-blooming perennial develops bright red fall foliage that looks great with colorful aster flowers.

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Purple Coneflower

    There are lots of reasons to grow purple coneflower if you have a sunny spot. A wide range of butterflies love sipping its nectar; the plant is very heat and drought tolerant, it's a perfect cut flower, and it blooms almost all summer long.

    Name: Echinacea selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide, depending on type

    Zones: 3-9

    Grow it with: Anise hyssop for a combo that will give you pretty bouquets and tons of butterflies for weeks in summer.

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Salvia

    There's a