Nothing makes me smile more than going out into my garden and seeing Swallowtail butterflies fluttering around. Did you know that planting certain plants will make sure that you have these pretty visitors to your yard? These swallowtail nectar plants will attract the butterflies to your garden. They just can’t resist them!
Swallowtail butterflies are very large and colorful butterflies in the family Papilionidae. The family is huge and includes over 500 species. The majority of the butterflies are tropical but you can find them on almost every continent. I am very lucky to have them as common visitors in my garden.
With such a gorgeous butterfly, it stands to reason that the caterpillar would be showy too! One an almost imagine the change to come after the butterfly emerges from the cocoon just by looking at the coloring.
This swallowtail caterpillar loves to feast on any of the carrot family plants, such as dill, parsley, fennel and others. While you may not enjoy him devouring these plants, he needs to grow and feed to become gorgeous like the photos below.
If you would like to attract Swallowtails to your garden you can do a few things to bring them near.
- Provide a water source. A small pond or birdbath will give them places to drink.
- Add rocks in your garden to give them a place to rest. (I like adding a big rock in my bird bath.)
- Plant tall grasses, such as Japanese Silver Grass, to give them some shelter at night.
- And most important, plant some nectar plants to give them something to fee on.
Try growing some of these Swallowtail nectar plants.
These easy to care for annuals are a magnet for swallowtails. The brightly colored plants always seem to be covered with the pretty butterflies in my garden. This dark morph tiger swallowtail is very fond of my zinnias! This guy has a yen for the yellow ones!
Lantana is a tender perennial that swallowtails seem to love for their plentiful nectar source.
These pretty perennial has leaves with a minty citrus aroma. The plant is irresistible to swallowtails. It’s a good plant for cooler regions of the country.
This perennial belongs to the milk weed family which is a host plant for monarch butterflies. However, its flowers attract all sorts of butterflies, including swallowtails.
( can’t even begin to count the times that I’ve walked out to my deck garden to get some parsley and found that it has been stripped clean by swallowtail caterpillars. They LOVE the stuff. Just goes to prove that parsley is a spice loved by all! Dill and fennel are other food plants that they favor.
More Swallowtail Nectar Plants
Joe Pye Weed
This stunning native perennial can grow to 9 feet tall. One of the nice things about this plant is that it blooms in the fall months, attracting butterflies well into the cooler time of the year.
What a beauty! A Grand Canyon Swallowtail feasting on a thistle flower. Try growing globe thistles to attract them to your garden.
If you want butterflies, (and not just swallowtails) in your garden, be sure to plant Buddleia, commonly known as Butterfly bushes. There is hardly a day that goes buy in the summer when I don’t have dozens of swallowtails feasting on the butterfly bushes in my front garden bed.
Purple coneflowers will attract Swallowtails as well as bees. Be sure to leave the spent flowers when the colder temps arrive and the plant goes dormant. The birds love the seed heads, too!
Even certain succulents will attract swallowtails. This variety is Sedum spurium “dragons blood”.
All of my sunflower plants are attractive to swallowtails. How majestic is this pairing? A huge butterfly needs a huge flower, after all! This female swallowtail has the perfect markings for this flower. No wonder she is so attracted to it!
Do you get a lot of these butterflies in your garden? What swallowtail nectar plants attract them there? Please leave our comments below.
If Monarchs are your thing, check out my tips for attracting monarch butterflies.