Having a garden that is a welcoming place for butterflies can be a real joy. There are a lot of butterflies that are native to our region, and one way to be able to best attract them is by planting natives.
Many people mistakenly focus all their attention on the nectar plants to attract the adults, without equal attention to the larval plants that will feed the growing caterpillars — helping to insure that you will have generations of returning butterflies to your garden.
Many of the NW Native plants we carry at the nursery are good butterfly plants as well as good garden plants. Here is just a partial list of what we usually see during the year:
- Achillea millefolium: Yarrow
- Allium cerneum: Wild Onion
- Amelanchier alnafolia: Serviceberry
- Aquilegia Formosa: Columbine
- Asclepias speciosa: Showy Milkweed
- Aster spp.: Aster
- Camassia spp.: Camas
- Dicentra formosa: Bleeding Heart
- Erigeron spp: Flea Bane
- Eriophyllum lanatum: Oregon sunshine
- Holodiscus discolor: Oceanspray
- Penstemon spp.: Penstemon
- Rhamnus purshiana: Cascara
- Philadelphus lewisii: Mock Orange
- Sidalcea spp.: Checker Mallow
- Spiraea spp.: Spirea
Attracting butterflies to your garden requires more time and patience than attracting birds. There are also considerations of placement of plants and providing a water source.
The links below should go a long way to helping you set up a garden area attractive to butterflies:
Local photographer Chris Carvalho has put together a thorough (and beautiful) resource on native butterflies and the plants that feed them. (He includes a few compatible non-natives here, too).
Our brochure on gardening for butterflies lists more natives along with non-natives, and designates whether the plant is for nectar-feeding or larval-feeding.