Nectar plants for Swallowtail Butterflies

Nothing makes me smile more than going out into my garden and seeing Swallowtail butterflies feasting on the nectar of plants in my garden beds.

If you want to attract swallowtail butterflies to your yard this year, plants some of these nectar bearing plants. #swallowtail #butterflySwallowtail butterflies are very large, and colorful butterflies in the family Papilionidae.  The family is large and includes over 500 species.  The majority of the butterflies are tropical but you can find them on almost eery 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!

Caterpillar of a swallowtail

Image shared from Wikipedia commons

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, try growing some of these nectar plants:

  • Zinnias
  • Purple cone flowers
  • Lantana
  • Lilacs
  • Moss Verbena
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Globe Thistle
  • Sedum
  • Sunflowers
  • Vitex
  • Even roses attract them to my garden!

blueswallowtailonyellowzinniaThis dark morph tiger swallowtail is very fond of my zinnias!  This guy has a yen for the yellow ones!

Grand Canyon Swallowtail feasting on a thistle flower

Image shared from Wikipedia commons

What a beauty!  A Grand Canyon Swallowtail feasting on a thistle flower. Try globe thistles to attract them to your garden.Two Dark Morph Tiger Swallowtaisl and orange zinniasA twofer!  This time it is more Black Morph tiger swallowtails. Orange is his color choice today!

 

 

 

 

Tiger Swallowtail and lantana flowers

Image shared from Wikipedia Commons

 This lighter colored Tiger Swallowtail is attracted to the vibrant colors of the Lantana plant.

swallowtailonpinkroseNot normally known for attracting Swallowtails, my roses don’t seem to follow the rules. This swallowtail is very happy feasting on the center of the pale pink rose!

swallowtailonbutterflybushIf 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 a dozen or so in my front garden bed.

Purple cone flowers will attract Swallowtails as well as bees.  Be sure to leave the spent flowers when they are done. The birds love them too!

If you live in a planting zone where lilacs grow well, you will be graced by swallowtails in search of their nectar.  They don’t grow so well for me here in NC but I live in hope!

Swallowtails love Sedum spurium "dragons blood" by droughtsmartplants.com

Image shared from Drought Smart Plants

Even certain succulents will attract swallowtails.  This variety is Sedum spurium “dragons blood”.

Giant Sunflower and female Swallowtail from magictouchandhergardens.wordpress.com

Image shared from Magic Touch and Her Gardens

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!

Swallow tail and vitex flower

Image shared from Wikipedia Commons

This Gorgeous swallowtail is attracted to a Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree, common in zones 7 and cooler.

Tiger Swallowtail and purple buddleia flower from ahealthylifeforme.com

Image shared from A healthy Life for me

Another pretty tiger swallowtail. This time he is feeding on a bright purple blossom of the butterfly bush (buddleia.)

Tattered old Black Swallowtail on a Homestead Verbena from magictouchandhergardens.wordpress.com

Image shared from Magic Touch and Her Gardens

This tattered old Black swallowtail looks as though he has been around for a while. He is feeding on a homestead verbena.

Do you get a lot of swallowtails in your garden? What plants attract them there?  Please leave our comments below.

If Monarchs are your thing, check out my tips for attracting monarch butterflies.

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  3 comments for “Nectar plants for Swallowtail Butterflies

  1. 03/28/2016 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for sharing my picture, Carol! Boy they’re hard to get a good clear photo of, they never sit still. They’re giddy with delight when they find a new flower open. I find that ever since the willows grew up there are more of them – the caterpillars need willows to live on.

  2. Summer Songs
    08/22/2016 at 3:58 pm

    Hi, thank you for posting caterpillar photos and all the pretty photos and identifying the plants.

    Some people are very interested now in providing native plants (for their state) to provide larval food as well as nectar for these beautiful hummingbirds. On our native plant Facebook page, it was suggested that ironweed as well as joe pye weed was suitable for swallowtail butterflies. Do you know of any other native plants they will visit or use as larval food (i.e., plant their eggs upon).

    Meanwhile, I wanted to mention something I just learned about this year. There is concern over pesticides (particularly the kind known as “neonicontinoids” or “neonics” for short, that are used in bedding plants and flowers you buy at the “big box” stores (like Home Depot and others). These stores were usually my sources (except for an herb gardening club’s sales) for flowers and vegetables. The plants are marked somewhere on the labels so a careful shopping can read the label to avoid buying plants with these pesticides. As you know, pesticides can be harmful to our pollinators, which include butterflies, bees, and others. Also did you know many many flies look like bees? They can also be great pollinators.

    Sincerely,

    Summer Songs

  3. Summer Songs
    08/22/2016 at 4:00 pm

    Oops, I really meant to say in my note, above, to provide native plants for the butterflies (not hummingbirds. . .though they need them, too!)

    Sorry for the typo. I probably was looking at my hummingbird feeder or just a senior moment.

    Thanks.

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