Lantana Plant And Butterflies: Does Lantana Attract Butterflies

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Most gardeners and nature enthusiasts love the sight of graceful butterflies flitting from one plant to another. Butterfly gardening has become increasingly popular not only because butterflies are beautiful, but also because they assist in pollination. While there are many plants that attract butterflies, no butterfly garden should be without lantana. Continue reading to learn about lantana and butterflies in the garden.

Attracting Butterflies with Lantana Plants

Butterflies have a highly evolved sense of smell and are attracted to the sweet-smelling nectar of many plants. They also are attracted to plants with bright blue, purple, pink, white, yellow, and orange blooms. Additionally, butterflies prefer plants with flat or dome-shaped clusters of small tubal flowers that they can safely perch on as they drink the sweet nectar. So does lantana attract butterflies? Yes! Lantana plants provide all these butterfly preferences.

Lantana is a hardy perennial in zones 9-11, but northern gardeners often grow it as an annual. There are over 150 varieties of this tough heat and drought tolerant plant, but there are two main types that are grown, trailing and upright.

Trailing varieties come in many colors, oftentimes with more than one color on the same flower dome. These trailing plants are excellent in hanging baskets, containers, or as groundcovers.

Upright lantana also comes in many color variations, can grow up to 6 feet (2 m.) tall in certain climates, and is an excellent addition to any flower bed or landscape.

Some butterflies that commonly visit lantana for its nectar are:

  • Hairstreaks
  • Swallowtails
  • Monarchs
  • Checkered whites
  • Cloudless sulfur
  • Red spotted purples
  • Red admirals
  • Painted ladies
  • Gulf fritillaries
  • Queens
  • Great southern whites
  • Atlas

Hairstreak butterflies and certain Lepidopteras will also use lantana as host plants.

Lantana also attracts hummingbirds and Sphinx moths. Many birds feed upon the seeds after the flowers have faded. And male weaver birds use lantana to decorate their nests to attract female weaver birds.

As you can see, lantana plants are great additions to have around, so if you want to see some butterflies on lantana, be sure to add the lovely flowers to the landscape.

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Butterfly Garden Flowers

These vibrant flowers and plants provide nectar for butterflies and create a bold border for your yard.

Related To:

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

Butterfly bushes (Buddleia or Buddleja) are large, fast-growing shrubs whose flowers are irresistible to butterflies. Buddleias are easy-care plants, but they’re invasive in some areas. Look for sterile cultivars which don’t set seed and therefore don’t run wild.

These fast-growing deciduous shrubs are suitable for planting in perennial borders, cottage gardens, island beds or wherever their loose, somewhat messy growth habit won’t detract from a particular garden design you’re trying to achieve. The plants tend to sprawl as they grow up to 12 feet tall, although you can opt for dwarf types with a neater, more compact growth habit if you’re going for a groomed look.


Phlox is a low-growing, spreading plant that forms a blanket of blooms all summer. Perennial varieties are great for a year-round groundcover.

Most garden phlox will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. For best results, do a soil test before planting, to see what amendments, if any, you may need (soil test kits are available from garden centers, or your local county extension service may be able to test a soil sample for you.).

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflower is one of the best flowers for attracting butterflies. It adds a flashy touch of color to the late summer landscape. Plant echinacea among a low growing perennial bed where showy flowers will stand above the rest.

The plants are consistently winter hardy throughout the country, standing up to harsh Minnesota winters, as well as mild Florida ones. Echinacea plants are drought-tolerant once established, making them well-suited to today’s water-conscious plantings. They make a great choice for rain gardens, adapting easily to the wet-dry soil cycles that typify these plantings.


Lantana produces profuse color, showing off clusters of tiny, eye-catching blooms in a variety of hues. Typically grown as an annual, it's an excellent low hedge or accent shrub that you can also train as a standard. It attracts butterflies and tolerates heat.

Lantana care is pretty simple. Water newly planted lantana regularly to ensure healthy root development. While established plants are drought tolerant, they stage the best show when they receive roughly one inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation.

Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii)

Blue star is a perennial that can reach two to three feet in height. It gets its name after its blue, star-shaped blooms that open up in spring.

Use in masses or as a specimen plant, or in a mixed perennial border in the middle to back of the border or in a rock garden. Blue star performs best in partial shade in a moist, loamy, well-drained soil, and also tolerates full sun if provided with enough moisture.

Pot Marigolds

Pot marigolds' blooms last up to eight weeks in the summer and are a quick-to-grow plant.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan is one of the great wildflowers of North America and was one of the first to become a domesticated garden flower. Its showy golden yellow flower head with black centers are a visual delight.

Blazing Star Flowers (Liatris spicata)

The blazing star is an interesting perennial which produces 1 to 3 foot-tall spikes of bright purplish-pink or white flowers in late June to early fall. It is an ideal plant to grow in a butterfly garden.


Heliotrope has a sweet, pungent scent that some liken to the smell of cherry pie. 'Dwarf Marine' features a royal purple color. It is large flowered yet compact and has attractive, dark green foliage and a bushy habit.


Lavender is a perennial favorite for gardeners and butterflies alike, producing tall, fragrant spikes of purple blooms. Hailing from the Mediterranean, it's drought-resistant and can take the heat.

Swamp Milkweed

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

A type of milkweed, drought-tolerant butterfly weed isn’t picky about growing conditions. Give it a sunny spot, and you’ll be on your way to a flowery summer. Butterflies, bees and other pollinators can’t resist these bright orange blooms. This perennial pushes through soil in late spring, well after other plants are up and at ‘em. It’s a good idea to mark clumps with a stake to avoid early season digging in that spot. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

Flossflower (Ageratum)

Flossflower is an annual that is a member of the aster family. The plants grow easily from seed and with enough water and a little shade, will bloom from midsummer to frost.

Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)

This delightful cosmos boasts dark maroon flowers that—as you might guess—are chocolate-scented.


Agapanthus comes to life in late summer. It features large, elegant, deep blue bell-shaped blooms that are clustered together on tall, sturdy stems. These showy flower heads stand well above the plant's foliage.


Aster is an herbaceous perennial that comes in a wide variety of colors. Its daisy-like flowers bloom in late summer and autumn in a sunny site.


Sea Holly (Eryngium tripartitum)

Sea holly has blue green stems with masses of small, metallic blue flower heads on tall, 4-foot stems. Sea holly is a delight to butterflies a tough plant that is very tolerant of drought.




Sedum has thick, succulent leaves that withstand drought and rainy weather. The flower buds form early and remain attractive well into winter. Low-growing types are perfect for rock gardens, while taller varieties thrive in perennial borders.


Goldenrod is a perennial with bright yellow flowers that add color to a late summer garden.


Joe-Pye Weed

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

This stunning American wildflower loves moist, shady woodland areas and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds for miles around

How Butterflies Benefit Your Garden

Attracting butterflies is more than a relaxing way to interact with nature. Indeed, the presence of these exquisite creatures is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Essential Pollinators

Butterflies are not only a living garden ornament. They are essential pollinators that can help your garden thrive. As they dance from flower to flower, they pick up pollen from the petals on their wings. When they land on the next flower, the pollen drops onto it.

While their method is less effective than that of bees, they are still vital contributors to pollination.

Butterflies are petals set free to fly, and ever to return to the heart of the flower that set them free.

LeAura Alderson,

Controlling the Aphid Population

Aphids are destructive to your garden. This is because they are voracious eaters who snack on the leaves of your favorite plants, shrubs, and flowers.

While butterflies are in their caterpillar form, one species is known to consume aphids. This helps to minimize the number of aphids present in your garden.

The notable caterpillar who eats aphids is . . .

  • Harvester butterfly, feniseca tarquinius, (these are the only fully carnivorous butterfly from caterpillar to adulthood).

Food chain

As a part of the food chain, butterflies are not only predators of aphids. In fact, they are also prey. Bats and some species of birds consume butterflies as a part of their healthy diets. When you have a thriving population of butterflies present, you’ll attract those predators. While this sounds terrible, remember bats and birds also provide natural mosquito control.

20 Plants to Attract Bees

Could we survive without bees?

Is it possible that they could survive without us?

Grow borage for the pollinators and its many health benefits.

Both are good questions to think about as you ponder how to fit some of the following plants in your backyard – or front yard – garden:

  • asters (Aster sp.)
  • bee balm (Monarda sp.)
  • black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • borage (Borago officinalis)
  • chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • goldenrod (Solidago sp.)
  • lavender (Lavandula sp.)
  • liatris (Liatris spicata)
  • marigold (Tagetes sp.)
  • mint (Mentha sp.)
  • nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
  • peony (Paeonia sp.)
  • phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  • poppies, California – (Eschscholzia californica)
  • roses (Rosa sp.)
  • sage (Salvia sp.)
  • sunflower (Helianthus)
  • thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
  • zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
If you love cut flowers, consider planting a patch of zinnias.

Bees, like most insects, are buzzing nervously under threats mainly caused by humans – urbanization, loss of habitat, heavy chemical use and wildly shifting weather patterns caused by climate change.

We’ve all heard at some point about honeybees and the colony collapse disorder. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

The population of honeybees is declining for several reasons:

  • parasites
  • disease (weakened immune systems)
  • poor nutrition
  • chemicals in their food supply

One of the easiest ways to cater to bees is to eliminate the chemicals we would otherwise use in our own yards. This rings true especially when it comes to lawn care.

The second thing we can do to nurture bees is to plant a myriad of plants they adore.

The best of both worlds – a bit of yard to play in and a healthy portion left to the insects.

Contrary to popular belief, that we need to save the dandelions for the bees, this simply isn’t true. Let’s bust this garden myth here and now.

Bees feed on the pollen of more than just dandelions. In fact, tree pollen is far more important as a first food source for bees, more nutritious too.

Dandelions are rather a “snack food” for bees.

They help to fill in the gap between collecting other sources of pollen and nectar, which might be abundant earlier, or later, in the day.

And an alluring field/backyard full of dandelions may even distract the bees. In that case, they may choose convenience of mass over flavor and quality nutrition. Even passing up an orchard to find a yellow haven.

If ever, you have wondered what a bee’s first food of the season is, go out there and do some of your own research. You may be surprised at what you find.

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix Arizona and California Back to Menu

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Butterfly Garden Design

Butterfly Nectar and Caterpillar Food Plants All plants are nectar sources except where noted

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii: Flame Acanthus
A caterpillar food plant for Elada and Arizona Checkerspot butterflies.

Aristolochia watsonii: Southwestern Pipevine
A caterpillar food plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly. This plant does not supply nectar.

Asclepias linaria: Pineneedle Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Asclepias subulata: Desert Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Asclepias tuberosa: Butterfly Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Calliandra californica: Baja Fairy Duster
A caterpillar food plant for Blue butterflies.

Citrus species (all), such as
Citrus reticulata: Mandarin / Tangerine
are caterpillar food plants for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The caterpillar resembles bird poop.

Conoclinium greggii: Gregg's Mistflower
A nectar source for Queen and Monarch male butterflies.

Justicia spicigera: Mexican honeysuckle
A caterpillar food plant for the Texas Crescent butterfly.

Lantana camara: Lantana

Monardella villosa: Coyote Mint

Passiflora: Passion Fruit
A caterpillar food plant for the Gulf Fritillary and Variegated Fritillary butterflies.

Ruta graveolens: Rue
A caterpillar food plant for the Black Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail butterflies.

Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage

Sarcostemma cynanchoides subsp. harwegii: Climbing Milkweed
A caterpillar food plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies.

Senna covesii: Desert Senna
A caterpillar food plant for Sulphur and Sleepy Orange butterflies. It does not supply nectar. Seed is available at Native Seeds Search.

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna
A caterpillar food plant for Sulphur butterflies. It does not supply nectar.

Thymophylla pentachaeta: Golden Dyssodia
A caterpillar food plant for the Dainty Sulphur butterfly.

= These plants receive the most butterfly visits.

Plants that Attract Butterflies

Who doesn’t love watching butterflies (can we call them fluttering flowers?) fly from one flower to the next on a sunny day? These are the best plants that attract butterflies to your garden.

Best Selling Shrubs & Hedges

Star Jasmine Vine Shrub

Oak Leaf™ Holly Shrub

Mrs Schiller’s Delight Viburnum Shrub

Peach Drift® Rose Bush

How to Attract Butterflies

To attract and keep butterflies, you need to supply the foods that they and their caterpillars eat. Many butterfly species get their nourishment from nectar that they sip from a variety of flowers. Butterfly caterpillars are more choosy, though. Most butterfly larvae are dependent on just one or a few kinds of green foliage for their sustenance. Female butterflies knows best, and she lays her eggs only on the kind of butterfly plant that her babies will eat.

A successful butterfly garden needs to include flowers for the adult stage butterflies and foliage for the caterpillars. Pollinators love to have a place to hang in between hunting for food sources.

Not all butterflies sip nectar or pollen. Red-spotted purples, mourning cloaks, buckeyes, and malachites, are among those that feed on rotting fruits, tree sap, carrion, or even dung.

To attract the most butterflies to your pollinator garden, serve up a variety of flower colors, shapes, and sizes. Include morning and afternoon bloomers, flowers that open in different seasons (winter bloomers, we are looking at you!), USDA hardiness zone, and those that bloom in full sun areas as well as those that prefer partial shade nooks. You may also take into consideration the weather patterns in your area i.e. the amount of rainfall vs the drought tolerance of the plant. Diversity is the key to attracting the most butterflies to your garden.

Of course, no matter what type of flowers you plant the pollinators will flock! These butterfly garden plants are for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as other pollinators like wasps and other wildlife.

Some of the best nectar sources for attracting adult butterflies are in the aster, mint, and verbena families. They are long blooming flowers and you invite butterflies into your landscape in no time!

The Best Plants for a Butterfly Garden:

Aster family

Blazing stars (Liatris spp.)

Coneflowers (Rudbeckia spp. and Echinacea spp. aka purple coneflower)

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)

Vanilla plants (Carphephorus spp.)

Goldenasters (Chrysopsis spp. and Pityopsis spp.)

Mistflower, Conoclinum coelestinum

Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)

Mint family

Verbena family

Verbenas (Glandularia spp. and Verbena spp.)

Golden dewdrop (Duranta repens)

Porterweed (Stachytarphaeta urticifolia)

Butterfly bush family

Bellflower family

Cardinal flower and other lobelias (Lobelia spp.)

Phlox family

Madder family

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Honeysuckle family

Legume family

Holly family

Butterfly Host Plants for Caterpillars

If your pollinator friendly garden doesn’t include caterpillar host plants, it is just a fast-food stop for adult butterflies. They won’t hang around if they don’t find the appropriate plant to lay eggs on to create their caterpillar babies.

The rose, legume, and laurel families include many important host plants for butterfly larvae.

Rose family

Plums, cherries, Carolina laurel-cherry (Prunus spp.) – tiger swallowtail, red-spotted purple

Legume family

Cassias, sennas, Partridge pea, (Cassia spp.) – sulphurs, hairstreaks, sleepy orange

Beggar’s ticks (Desmodium spp.) – long-tailed skipper

Clovers (Trifolium spp.) – dogface

Garden beans (Phaseolus spp.) – long-tailed skipper

Laurel family

Laurels, red bay, sassafras, spicebush (Lauraceae) – palamedes and spicebush swallowtails

Birthwort family

Dutchman’s pipe, Calico flower, Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia spp.) – polydamus and pipevine swallowtails

Sunflower family

Shepherd’s needle (Bidens alba) – sulphurs

Sunflowers (Helianthus) – painted lady

Carrot family

Fennel, dill, parsley, water hemlock (Apiaceae) – black swallowtail

Citrus family

Citrus trees, Hercules’ club, toothache tree, hoptree (Rutaceae)– giant swallowtail

Willow family

Coastal Plain Willow (Salix caroliniania) – viceroy

Verbena family

Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora – white peacock, buckeye, crescents

Passionflower family

Passionflower (Passiflora spp.) – fritillaries, zebra longwing

Pawpaw family

Pawpaw (Asimina spp.) – zebra swallowtail

Elm family

Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) – hackberry and snout butterflies, tawny emperor, question mark

Magnolia family

Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) – tiger swallowtail

Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) – tiger swallowtail

Dogbane family

Milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) – monarch, queen

Dogwood family

Mustard family

Collards, kale, mustard (Brassica spp.) – whites

Please note that most of these garden plants are easy to grow and are suited for a wide range of butterfly species in North America. It is always best to grow native plants for the wide variety of pollinators they can attract. Butterflies love bright colors on the nectar plants.

Once you have these plants that attract butterflies in your garden you will be able to see the complete metamorphosis of the butterfly life stages. When the butterfly emerges it truly is remarkable!

Many other Perfect Plants are good for butterflies:

What kind of plants do you have planted for butterflies? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article, please like, comment, or share. Happy planting!

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