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Nectar plants for Swallowtail Butterflies

These swallowtail nectar plants are great at attracting butterflies to your garden. They just can’t resist them!

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? 

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.

Swallowtail butterfly in a patch of zinnias.

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.Swallowtail caterpillar eating a leaf.

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.

Butterfly on a pink flower with words Nectar Plants for Swallowtail Butterflies.

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.Collage showing Nectar plants for Swallowtail Butterflies.


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!Blue swallowtail butterfly on a yellow zinnia


Lantana is a tender perennial that swallowtails seem to love for their plentiful nectar source.Lantana and swallowtail butterfly.

Bee Balm

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.Pink bee balm plant.

Butterfly Weed

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.Butterfly weed and swallowtail butterfly.


( 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.

Joe Pye weed and butterfly.

Thistle Flowers

What a beauty!  A Grand Canyon Swallowtail feasting on a thistle flower. Try growing globe thistles to attract them to your garden.

Grand Canyon Swallowtail feasting on a thistle flower.

Image shared from Wikipedia commons

Butterfly Bushes

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.

Swallowtail on a butterfly bush.Purple Coneflowers

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”.

Swallowtails love Sedum spurium "dragons blood" by

Image shared from Drought Smart Plants


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!

Giant Sunflower and female Swallowtail from

Image shared from Magic Touch and Her Gardens

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.

Pin this post about swallowtail nectar plants for later

Would you like a reminder of these plants that attract swallowtail butterflies? Just pin this photo to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Swallowtail butterfly on a patch of zinnias with words reading Nectar plants for Swallowtails.

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