I love all pollinators, but butterflies are some of my favorite garden visitors. I like to plant flowers that specifically bring butterflies to the garden. It made me sad recently to hear that the iconic Monarch butterfly is in danger of extinction. According to the IUCN, Monarch butterflies in North America has declined in population by between 22% and 72% in just the last 10 years. There are a number of reasons why, but one way we can help is by planting flowers that Monarchs love.
In this article, we’ll talk about 10 amazing flowers that Monarch butterflies love.
Milkweed – the most important plant for Monarch butterflies
Never judge a plant by its name. That is absolutely true of this wildflower, which isn’t truly a weed at all. The monarch butterfly’s solitary host plant is this hardy native of North American fields, marshes, and grasslands. Milkweed (Asclepias) receives its name from the sticky white fluid that oozes from its injured leaves. This herbaceous perennial has over 100 species endemic to the United States and Canada.
In most parts of the country, three varieties of milkweed are suitable all-around selections for gardens: Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), Common milkweed (A. syriaca), and Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa). Swamp milkweed and butterfly weed are both extremely decorative plants with several varieties.
Zinnias are a daisy genus that belongs to the sunflower family and are another favorite of monarchs. They are found in scrub and dry grassland from the Southwestern United States to South America, with Mexico serving as a diversity hotspot. The genus is known for its single long-stemmed flowers, which come in a variety of vibrant hues. Flowers come in a variety of colors, including pink, orange, purple, white, red, and yellow, as well as multi-color variants. The leaves are light to mid-green in color.
Zinnias are annuals, which means they’ll grow for one season and produce blooms and seeds, but they won’t come back the next year. They have beautiful, solitary, daisy-like flowerheads on a single, tall stalk, making them ideal for cutting or as a butterfly food source. Zinnia elegans is the most popular Zinnia species, and it has been cultivated to produce a wide range of distinctive variants.
Miss Molly Butterfly Bush
The Miss Molly Butterfly Bush is a one-of-a-kind butterfly plant. It is the ideal addition to any summer garden, with its almost red blooms and compact habit. Both butterflies and hummingbirds flock to this aromatic butterfly shrub.
The Miss Molly Butterfly Bush has a spring blooming season that lasts until late October. It has deep pink to almost red blossoms that contrast beautifully with the green foliage. This butterfly bush reaches a height of 48 to 60 inches tall and a spread of 48 to 60 inches wide. Its fragrant blossoms attract hummingbirds and butterflies. This butterfly bush looks great in sunny gardens and as a border plant.
‘Ava’ is a cross between two Agastache species native to the southwestern United States (A. cana x A. barberi). It’s known for its fragrant, sweet-smelling flowers and foliage. Agastache Ava is known for its towering spikes of deep rose-pink blooms held by raspberry-red calyxes, making it one of the best plant introductions. Beginning in mid-summer, this strong hybrid Hummingbird Mint blooms over several months.
Agastache Ava is resistant to deer and rabbits, and it attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It’s also a long-blooming perennial that provides vibrant color for weeks in the summer. Catmint, another pollinator-friendly blooming perennial, is a related relative.
The Mexican sunflower, with its fuzzy, coarse-textured leaf in vivid green, is an excellent filler plant that may also serve as a background for other perennials and is great for attracting monarch butterflies. This annual is native to Mexico and is not a genuine sunflower. Flowers in warm colors of bright orange and yellow are the most common.
The Mexican sunflower has long, narrow exterior petals that are clustered around a yellow center, similar to a huge daisy. Plant a few near your vegetable garden to attract pollinators and beneficial bugs, which can aid in the management of pest outbreaks.
May Night Salvia
The blossoms of May Night Salvia are recognized for their vibrant color. They are also prized for attracting a variety of colorful fauna to the area, including Monarch butterflies. May Night Salvia is only one of many plants in the fascinating genus that has something unique to offer growers with a wide range of preferences. In 1997, it was named Perennial Plant of the Year.
Although ‘May Night’ Salvia is a member of the mint family, the foliage lacks a characteristic mint scent. Instead, some growers describe the leaves’ odor as pleasant, although this is a matter of personal preference. Flowers give a beautiful touch to spring bouquets, but don’t use leafy stems unless you like the smell.
Cosmos are freely blooming annuals that may be grown by spreading some seeds in the garden after any frost threat has gone. This traditional cottage garden blooms mature in around two months. Cosmos may take longer to germinate, but it blooms immediately and continues to flower into the fall.
All summer, the flowers perch atop long, thin stalks, creating a cloud of stunning color that attracts monarch butterflies, bees, and birds to your garden. Cosmos blossoms resemble daisies. They come in a variety of hues, with additional varieties being produced each year.
Verbena brasiliensis, sometimes known as Brazilian Verbena or Brazilian vervain, is a flowering plant in the vervain family (Verbenaceae). Annual Verbenas have vibrant, powerful, and flexible blooms. They are ideal for spicing up the summer garden. It blooms all season, with small clusters full of brilliantly colored flowers. It’s another great flower for Monarch butterflies.
Verbena looks as beautiful in home garden beds as it does in window boxes, pots, and hanging baskets. Verbena plants can also withstand summertime dryness and blistering heat without complaint. So, it makes them the perfect low-maintenance flower.
Since the Blue porterweed is a low-growing native of South Florida that produces little blue blooms almost all year, it is a good choice for enticing pollinators like Monarch butterflies. It’s also an excellent groundcover. Blue porterweed is a short, spreading shrub with a delicate appearance.
However, some may be surprised that this natural plant of the tropical southeast is being grown for the finest of gardens. For a long time, it was regarded as a weed. The leaves are appealing because they are crinkled and toothed. It is a herbaceous perennial that develops to be woody towards the base of the stem after about a year.
The Siberian Wallflower’s beautiful orange, nectar-rich flowers are a vital spring source of food for monach butterflies and other pollinators. It is a compact plant that grows just 10-18″ tall, making it ideal for a massed planting or floral border where it won’t be overshadowed by larger plants. Combine it with other brightly colored flowers in blue, red, violet, and even pink!
The Siberian Wallflower thrives in various soil types, from loam to sandy to clay, it is extremely versatile and easy to care for. In hot, dry areas, the plant enjoys full sun, although it also appreciates afternoon shade. Enjoy the aromatic blossoms in bouquets, but leave some to develop and create seedpods. The seeds will self-sow to form a native planting that will proliferate and spread year after year, signaling spring for you (and the pollinators).