Best Plants for Butterflies for the South

It's easy to attract butterflies to your southeastern garden with these plants.


Although we typically think of annuals, perennials, and a few flowering shrubs when it comes to attracting butterflies, a few trees also lure these winged jewels. Our native black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is one tree on that list. Look it up in a good horticultural reference book and you'll find caterpillars listed as one of its common "pest problems." Because it would require a veritable horde of caterpillars to do any serious damage to this tough tree, don't let the possibility of a few munched-on leaves prevent you from planting one in your garden. The locust's iron constitution also makes it a good candidate for urban gardeners who want to help butterflies survive in the big city.

Click here to learn more about the plant hardiness zone of where you live.

I once had a lengthy conversation with an old Southern gardener about a plant he referred to as "drunk bumblebee plant." Because I was not familiar with that common name, the gentleman had to e-mail me a photo of his plant before I realized he was describing showy stonecrop (Sedum spectabile). It all makes perfect sense now. Plant some stonecrop in your garden and watch as bees, butterflies, and a host of buzzing insects appear intoxicated by the showy, broccoli-like florets that open pink and gradually take on a maroon cast. It's like an open bar for thirsty bees and butterflies, and the neon "open" sign is turned on from summer through late fall.

Learn more about black locust in Plant Encyclopedia.

Check out some of our favorite sedum varieties.

Learn more about butterfly gardening.

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