Butterfly Nectar Sources Non-Native, Perennial Garden Plants Rich in Nectar
None of the plants listed below are native to Connecticut. Some appear on lists of native plants for Connecticut because they are native elsewhere in the USA and will grow in Connecticut gardens. Some of the plants grow wild in Connecticut because they are naturalized (originating in another country or another region of the USA, but once introduced to Connecticut, they are able to reproduce and spread). All the plants listed will grow in Connecticut and have been reported to attract butterflies. Note that individual butterfly tastes vary and the flower quality varies regionally, so some species may not be as attractive as expected to your butterflies. In general, plantings with large masses or drifts of the same color are more attractive to butterflies than mixes with a variety of colors in single plants or small clumps. Dead-heading the plants will give longer bloom time. Showy cultivars for many of the species listed below may enhance the appearance of your garden or the length of bloom time. Cultivars have part of their name in single quotes. Use caution with cultivars that have double flowers because often they lack fragrance or other signals to pollinators or they even may be missing the nectar or pollen. For the plants where only a genus is listed, you may wish to consult your local nursery operator as to which species grow best and are most attractive to butterflies in your area. Finally, avoid meadow mixes as they may contain species that are invasive in Connecticut (for example, Dame's Rocket).
Aster spp. (some species get ragged)
Bee-balm (= Oswego Tea)
Monarda didyma (spreads rapidly)
Rudbeckia R. hirta var. pulcherrima (= R. serotina) R. nitida 'Autumn Sun'
Scabiosa (=Dove Pincushion)
(will bloom all summer if deadheaded)
Scabiosa columbaria (try "Butterfly Blue")
Spring - Fall
Stoke's Aster (poor drainage in winter will kill)
late Spring - Fall
Stonecrop (= Live Forever)
Sedum spp. (try Sedum purpureum "Autumn Joy")
late Summer - Fall
late Spring/early Summer
Thrift, Sea (= Common Thrift)
Summer - early Fall
Notes: The greatest number of butterfly species occurs in Connecticut in the Summer when, in addition to nectar plants found in gardens, there are many native plants blooming in the wild. Some butterflies may find plenty of nectar without ever coming to a butterfly garden. Certain butterfly species need nectar in the Spring and gardeners can be particularly helpful by providing spring nectar sources. Lilac (Syringa spp.) is a good shrub (or small tree) source of Spring nectar. Many perennial plants will bloom longer if the spent blossoms are removed (deadheading). However, when Fall comes, it is good for wildlife to leave the flowers to go to seed (which also provides shelter for some over-wintering butterflies).