Best Plants for Butterflies for the Northwest

Attract butterflies to your yard with these easy-care plants.


Attracting butterflies to your garden is a romantic notion, and one that is as good for the environment as for the health of your garden. To successfully lure these beauties, however, you need plants to feed caterpillars as well as the mature butterflies they'll turn into. This means putting up with some chewed leaves for the later benefit of butterflies flitting about and sipping nectar. There are a few plants that meet both the food needs of caterpillars and the nectar needs of butterflies. Ceanothus species, which are evergreen, blue-flowering groundcovers and shrubs, are beloved by butterflies at all stages of their life span. Provide a warm, sheltered spot and perfect drainage, and Ceanothus are easy-care plants. Our native flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) blooms in March, and also meets the needs of caterpillars and butterflies, as well as being an early food source for overwintering hummingbirds. The Woodland Park Zoological Gardens in Seattle has a popular butterfly exhibit that features a demonstration garden filled with a variety of plants for nurturing butterflies in Northwest gardens.

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