What Colors Are Butterflies Attracted To?

Several different types of butterflies attracted to colored flowers

If there’s one nearly universal truth, it’s that most people hate insects. All summer long, people spend their time outdoors swatting mosquitoes, crushing ants and dodging wasps and yellow jackets. When people are ranting and raving about these six-legged menaces, though, they almost never mean butterflies.

Butterflies are insects just like ants, mosquitoes, beetles and all those other annoying pests, but for some reason, they get a pass. Not only do they get a pass, people actively seek them out and try to attract them to their gardens. They pay money to visit butterfly houses and release containers of butterflies at their weddings.

Butterflies have become symbolic of hope, beauty and elegance. In some cultures, they’re even seen as signs of rebirth, change, endurance and life itself. Many people believe that if a butterfly lands on them, they’ll have good luck or that a huge, positive life change is coming their way. People decorate with butterflies, get butterfly tattoos and spend countless hours trying to take the most stunning photos of butterflies in the wild.

But why do we love them so much?

Butterflies Are Beautiful

Beautiful Morpho Menelaus butterfly

Put simply, so many people love butterflies because they’re incredibly beautiful. Despite being insects, butterflies don’t give off that “creepy crawly” vibe that a lot of other insects do. Their brightly colored wings, unique shape and the ability to fly makes them look more like tiny, living works of art than common insects.

This makes butterflies quite popular, and many people try their best to plant the types of flowers that would lure them into their yards, much like when you try to attract more birds to your garden.

What Colors Attract Butterflies?

If you’re hoping to attract more butterflies to your yard or garden, your first step is to learn about your local butterflies and what kinds of flowers they prefer. Butterflies, unlike humans, can actually see ultraviolet light and can only perceive colors that are considered “high frequency” colors. Despite that, butterflies actually love red flowers, which they can’t technically see because red is a lower frequency color.

As a general rule, butterflies are most attracted to flowers that are white, pink, orange, yellow, red and purple. Their least favorite flower colors are green and blue. Some scientists also believe that butterflies can “learn” which colors of flowers provide them with their favorite type of nectar, which is why you may see butterflies coming back over and over again to a certain color or type of flower.


Monarch butterfly feeding on white phlox flowers

There are several types of white flowers that are perfect for attracting butterflies to your garden. For instance, there are multiple varieties of creeping phlox that are white in color and perfect for creating a butterfly garden. The “Early Crystal” and “David” varieties of phlox are quite popular. Eupatorium, more commonly known as “Joe Pye Weed,” is another great option.

However, if you’re looking for something simple to grow that’s almost sure to work, most people recommend buying and planting common white daisies or a “White Ball” butterfly bush. Both of these are beautiful plants that are easy to grow and maintain as long as you have quite a bit of sun in your garden or backyard. They don’t require a ton of tending, and they lie dormant in the winter and bloom again beautifully the next year.


Monarch butterfly on pink monarda flower

When it comes to buying pink flowers to help attract butterflies to your home, the options are almost limitless. There are countless pink flowers out there that butterflies will go crazy over all summer long. Some of the most popular options include various varieties of pink-colored butterfly bushes, the “Firecracker” and “October Sunset” varieties of sedum, more commonly known as stonecrop, and the beautiful, brilliant pink monarda.

There are also pink varieties of both phlox and Joe Pye Weed. Additionally, you can find some beautiful pink snapdragons for your garden that are very popular with butterflies, or you could go with the more exotic cone flower (Echinacea) or some of the hybrid versions of verbena. If you don’t want to have to spend a lot of money and are looking to find something in nature to simply replant, you could track down some ironweed, which grows wild in many places all across the United States.


Monarch with open wings feeding on orange asclepias butterfly weed

When it comes to vibrant orange flowers for attracting butterflies, you simply can’t beat the asclepias plant, which is more commonly known as the butterfly weed or butterfly flower (depending on where exactly you live).

This is one of the all-time best choices for trying to cultivate your very own butterfly garden because not only do the brightly colored flowers attract butterflies and provide them with delicious nectar, the leaves and stems are also favorites of many caterpillars. This is because they contain a substance that, when ingested, makes the caterpillars taste bad to other predators, which helps keep them safe. This plant is especially great for monarch butterflies.

Other orange plants that butterflies enjoy include the perennial lantanas, which are also a favorite of hummingbirds, black-eyed Susans, the “Orange Sceptre” butterfly bush and the “Tiki Torch” cone flower. There are also some beautiful orange daisies that serve the dual purpose of attracting butterflies and looking great in your garden.

Other Colors That Butterflies Are Attracted To

Monarch butterfly feeding on purple aster flower in summer

In addition to white, pink and orange, butterflies also enjoy flowers that are red, purple and yellow. Leaving out any flowers that have already been mentioned in the three categories above, these are the top three flowers of each color to plant if you’re hoping to entice more butterflies into your yard.


  • “Strawberry Seduction” Yarrow
  • “Ruby Ribbons” Panicum Virgatum
  • Red Zinnia


  • “Purple Dome” or “Fanny” Aster
  • Salvia
  • Lavender


  • Goldenrod
  • Sunflower
  • “Mary Gregory” Stokesia

Tips for Attracting Butterflies

Sunset seen through blossoms on a meadow with butterflies roaming in the air and deep blue sky

There are some final thoughts to keep in mind if you’re really trying to attract butterflies to your home and get them to stay there. Color truly is important, and planting some of the local butterflies’ favorite colored plants is a great start, but it’s not the only thing to consider.

Types of Butterflies

First and foremost, you want to figure out what types of butterflies are local to your area. According to the Smithsonian Institute, there are about 17,500 species of butterflies in the world, and around 750 of those live in the United States. Figuring out which types of butterflies live near you can go a long way towards helping you figure out which types of plants you should be growing.


You should also make sure you have enough sun in your garden/yard area. Fully grown butterflies do not like to feed in the shade. They prefer to feed out in the open where it’s sunny and warm. Butterflies feed most often between the mid-morning hours and the mid-afternoon hours, so that’s when your garden area should be receiving the most sun if you want to attract plenty of butterflies.

Flower Types

In addition to choosing flowers that are the right color, you’ll also want to choose the right types of flowers as well. Butterflies prefer flowers that produce tons of nectar all day long, and it’s even better if those flowers are large and bulky – also known as “massed.” This means the butterfly can land and have plenty of nectar sources without having to fly and land again somewhere else. They also prefer plants with deep flowers that are accessible only to insects with long tongues so that they don’t have a lot of competition for their food.

Remember the Caterpillars

Caterpillar transforming into Monarch butterfly

Choosing plants that are perfect for caterpillars is also important. You can’t have all those beautiful butterflies without the caterpillars from which they spawn, so if you want to attract the butterflies, make sure your plants make good caterpillar homes as well.

If you follow these tips and tricks, you’re sure to start seeing some butterflies fluttering around your home and garden in no time.