Plants That Attract Monarch Butterflies ( Top 13 Plants )

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Monarch butterflies can be a great help in your garden, no matter if you are growing your own food or growing flowers for the wow factor. Monarch butterflies are extremely good pollinators, and as long as you provide them with plants that they enjoy they will pollinate your entire garden. Monarch butterflies have been in a steady decline over the past couple of decades, mostly due to habitat loss and insecticides.

The plants that attract monarch butterflies tend to have vigorous flowers jam-packed with pollen like Zinnia, Cosmos, Ava flowers, and so on. The absolute best plant that attracts monarch butterflies is the Milkweed, not only does this plant provides food for the monarch butterflies but it is vital for monarch caterpillars. The monarch caterpillars while they feed on the Milkweed will absorb the plant’s toxins which acts as a defense mechanism for the monarch caterpillars.

If you want to grow plants from seed for attracting monarch butterflies then my personal recommendation is to use a Milkweed Seed Collection Click here to check it out on

Before planting the plants that actually attract monarch butterflies you have to take into consideration your local climate. Not all of the below-listed plants are winter hardy, some are annuals while others are perennials. Ideally, you should use a mix of annual and pertain plants that attract monarch butterflies, mostly because annual plants will flower in the first year, while some perennials need 2-3 years until they start producing flowers.

You can either grow these plants from seeds or use established plants, although if you want as many different types of plants that attract monarch butterflies then you should definitely grow them from seed. If you want to make your own wildflower garden for pollinators then check out my recent article Wildflower Garden ( In 10 Easy Steps ).

Plants That Attract Monarch Butterflies

Milkweed is an essential plant for monarchs as it is their primary host plant for laying eggs and serves as a food source for their caterpillars. I have also observed monarchs being attracted to nectar-rich flowers such as zinnias, coneflowers, asters, and butterfly bushes. These vibrant and fragrant flowers provide nourishment for adult monarchs, offering them a fuel source for their long journeys.


One of the most well-known plants that attract monarch butterflies is milkweed, although there are a lot of different types of milkweed they all tend to attract monarch butterflies. Not only do they attract the butterflies but they are also extremely beneficial for the monarch caterpillars. As the monarch caterpillars are feeding on the milkweed they absorb chemicals that they use as a defense mechanism, and no other plant provides this benefit for them. If this is the first time growing flowers then you will need a high-quality mulch for more information check out my recent article Best Mulch For Flower Beds ( Top 9 Mulches ).

Zinnia Flowers

If you have a small patch of flowers then you most definitely have a couple of zinnias. Not only do the zinnia flowers look beautiful but they also attract monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. Zinnia plants tend to be somewhat tall, and this is extremely important for monarch butterflies as they tend to favor open spaces in order to flee from predators.

Miss Molly Bushes

Miss molly bushes are also called butterfly bushes and they do attract monarch butterflies. These bushes tend to produce a lot of flowers, and the more flowers the bush has the more pollen is available for the monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Just keep in mind that miss molly bushes can get fairly large, and how many flowers they produce depends on the soil fertility and on how you have pruned them.

Cosmos Sulphureus

Cosmos flowers can be found in almost every flower garden, they are easy to grow and they tend to produce a lot of pollen for the pollinators. Monarch butterflies are attracted to cosmos flowers, and the more cosmos flowers you have the more butterflies will be in your garden. Cosmos flowers are annuals which means that they will flower in the first year, and the best part about them is that they are extremely easy to grow.

May Night Salvia

Most salvia plants tend to attract monarch butterflies, but the May Night Silvia tends to outshine them all. This plant has blue and purple flowers with plenty of nectar, most pollinators love this plant and some hummingbirds will also feed on its nectar. One of the best mulches for flowers are grass clippings, for more information check out my recent article Mulching With Grass Clippings ( Top 9 Best Practices ).

Blue Porterweed

All Porterweed flowers attract monarch butterflies and other pollinators as well, however, the Blue Porterweed tends to be one of the favorite flowers of monarch butterflies. The Blue Porterweed tends to have relatively small flowers, although these flowers tend to be jam-packed with pollen.

Siberian Wallflowers

Siberian Wallflowers have a particular fragrance to them, and the bright and vivid orange color of their flowers makes them stand out from any flower garden. These wallflowers tend to produce a lot of flowers and in some cases, you will not even be able to see the leaves from so many flowers.

Goldenrod Plants

Goldenrod plants attract a lot of pollinators, including bees, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds as well. One of the main reasons why monarch butterflies love this plant is due to its large size of pollen grains.

Agastache Flowers

Agastache flowers are well known for attracting hummingbirds, and any plant that attracts hummingbirds will also attract monarch butterflies. The main reason why the Agastache flowers attract monarch butterflies and other pollinators is due to how much nectar they tend to produce. Even if you have a relatively large butterfly garden you will notice that the ava flowers will simply be swarmed by monarch butterflies.

Mexican Sunflowers

The Mexican Sunflowers are native to South America, and this is one of the favorite flowers of the Monarch butterflies. As the monarch butterflies start their migration towards the south they will rest in gardens that tend to have a lot of Mexican Sunflowers.

Lantana Flowers

The Lantana plant is one of the easiest to grow, although it tends to favor well-draining soil, it will basically grow anywhere provided that you use some compost. Lantana flowers attract monarch butterflies, pollinators, and even the occasional hummingbird. One thing to keep in mind when planting Lantana flowers is that they are prone to getting powdery mildew, so make sure that they are in full sunlight and that you water them from below.

Brazilian Verbena

The Verbena flowers tend to attract a lot of pollinators not only monarch butterflies but bees, and hummingbirds as well. Verbena flowers are extremely easy to grow from seed, and the best part about these flowers is that they will thrive in relatively poor soil as well.

Callistemon Flowers

The Callistemon plant is a sun-loving and heat tolerant one, it is actually native to Australia where it can survive in drought conditions. The Callistemon has red flowers which produce a lot of pollen, this plant attracts a lot of hummingbirds and monarch butterflies as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Milkweed is the primary host plant for monarch butterflies. It provides essential nectar for adult monarchs and serves as a food source for their caterpillars. Different species of milkweed, such as common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), can be planted to attract monarch butterflies.
  • Monarch butterflies are attracted to a variety of native flowering plants that provide nectar. Some popular choices include purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), blazing star (Liatris spp.), and bee balm (Monarda spp.). These plants not only attract monarch butterflies but also benefit other pollinators.
  • Butterfly bush, also known as buddleia, is a popular flowering shrub that attracts a wide range of butterflies, including monarchs. It produces abundant nectar-rich flowers, which serve as a valuable food source for adult monarch butterflies. Choose native species of butterfly bush to support the local ecosystem.