20 Plants That Attract Butterflies in Washington

Welcome to the magical world of butterflies in Washington! As you set out to create a butterfly haven in your backyard, consider adding these 20 native plants.

Not only will they attract beautiful winged visitors, they’ll also enhance your garden aesthetic with their stunning blooms and foliage.

Western Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Western Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, is a lovely perennial plant that is perfect for attracting butterflies to your garden in Washington.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

With its delicate white flowers and feathery leaves, it is not only a magnet for winged pollinators but also a beautiful addition to any landscape.

Plus, it’s an easy-to-grow plant that can tolerate a variety of soil conditions and weather.

Let’s take a closer look at some important details about Western Yarrow:

  • Plant Species: Achillea millefolium
  • Plant Family: Asteraceae
  • Growth Habit: Perennial herb with a sprawling and clumping growth pattern
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer, with occasional blooms into fall
  • Distribution: Widespread across North America and native to Washington state
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, re-establishing each year through underground rhizomes and self-seeding
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers and leaves are often used for medicinal purposes, while the entire plant can be used in landscaping or habitat restoration projects

Western Yarrow is an excellent choice for attracting butterflies to your garden in Washington.

Its beautiful white flowers, feathery leaves, and hardy nature make it an essential addition for a pollinator-friendly landscape.

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Western Columbine, also known as Aquilegia formosa, is a beautiful perennial plant that attracts various species of butterflies to your garden.

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

This attractive native plant grows well across Washington and is a fantastic addition to any garden looking to increase its butterfly population.

The brightly colored flowers of the Western Columbine bloom from late spring until summer, providing an extended period of delight for both you and the butterflies.

  • Plant Species: Aquilegia formosa
  • Plant Family: Ranunculaceae
  • Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Western North America, from Alaska to Baja California
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, seeds

The Western Columbine is both eye-catching and low-maintenance, making it an accessible choice for gardeners of all skill levels.

It thrives in a variety of soils and conditions, ensuring a successful addition to your butterfly garden.

Butterflies are attracted to the nectar-rich flowers, providing them with an essential food source while also providing you with the joy of seeing these beautiful creatures in your garden.

With its vibrant colors, easy care, and butterfly appeal, the Western Columbine is a top choice for increasing your garden’s butterfly population.

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Showy Milkweed, an essential native plant for the butterflies in Washington, is a must-have in your garden if you want to attract these beautiful creatures.

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Its pink, star-shaped flowers will not only lure butterflies but also bring a burst of color to your green space.

A hardy perennial, showy milkweed can thrive in various conditions including meadows, forest clearings, and even roadside ditches.

It is particularly important to the famous Monarch butterfly, who use it as a host plant for laying eggs and a food source for their caterpillars.

  • Plant Species: Asclepias speciosa
  • Plant Family: Apocynaceae
  • Growth Habit: Upright, clump-forming perennial
  • Flowering Time: June to August
  • Distribution: Ranges from Western US to Texas, Nebraska, and Minnesota
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Blossoms and leaves

Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

The Pacific Bleeding Heart, scientifically known as Dicentra formosa, is a desirable addition to your garden for attracting butterflies.

Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

This beautiful perennial plant has characteristic heart-shaped flowers, giving it its name.

The flowers are typically pink to lavender and bloom in clusters that droop gracefully from arching stems.

In addition to being a great source of nectar for butterflies, they also provide food for hummingbirds.

  • Plant Species: Dicentra formosa
  • Plant Family: Papaveraceae (poppy family)
  • Growth Habit: Perennial, spreading through rhizomes
  • Flowering Time: April to July
  • Distribution: Native to the western United States, from California to Alaska
  • Life Cycle: Long-lived perennial, with a peak in flowering during mid-spring to early summer
  • Plant Part Used: Root system and rhizomes for propagation; flowers for butterfly attraction and garden aesthetics

Planting Pacific Bleeding Heart in your garden will not only ensure an abundance of butterflies but also contribute to a visually pleasing landscape.

The delicate, drooping flowers make an excellent focal point, with their vibrant colors sure to capture attention.

Western Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)

The Western Tiger Lily, also known as Lilium columbianum, is a captivating addition to any garden or landscape in Washington.

Western Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum)

With its vibrant orange petals and dark spots, this native perennial plant is sure to attract a variety of butterflies, bringing life and movement to your garden.

Its nectar and pollen also provide essential nutrients for the butterflies and other pollinators that visit your garden throughout the flowering season.

  • Plant Species: Lilium columbianum
  • Plant Family: Liliaceae
  • Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial
  • Flowering Time: June to July
  • Distribution: Western North America, particularly the Pacific Northwest
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Entire plant (flowers, leaves, and stem)

The Western Tiger Lily thrives in well-draining, moist soil and prefers areas with partial to full sunlight.

To incorporate this lovely plant into your butterfly garden, consider planting it near other butterfly-friendly species, like the Western Columbine or Pacific Bleeding Heart.

This way, you’ll create a diverse, thriving ecosystem that supports these beautiful creatures and contributes to the overall health of your garden.

Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)

The Pacific Dogwood is a much-admired native flowering tree in Washington that attracts butterflies and other pollinators.

Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) . . .

This tree is not only admired for its stunning white flowers but also serves as a nectar source for a variety of butterfly species.

  • Plant Species: Cornus nuttallii
  • Plant Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)
  • Growth Habit: Tree or shrub, reaching up to 30 feet in height
  • Flowering Time: April to June
  • Distribution: Native to the western coast of North America, including Washington, Oregon, and California
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, with a slow growth rate
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, berries, bark, and wood

In your garden, plant Pacific Dogwood in a spot where it will receive dappled sunlight as it prefers partial shade.

A well-draining soil is crucial for optimal growth. Provide ample water, especially during the first few years of establishment.

As part of your butterfly-attracting efforts, try pairing Pacific Dogwood with other butterfly-attracting plants such as Western Columbine and Western Tiger Lily.

Additionally, the tree’s berries provide a great food source for birds, further enhancing the biodiversity of your garden.

Pacific Dogwood is an excellent addition to any garden, especially for those looking to attract a range of butterfly species and contribute to the local ecosystem.

Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Blueblossom, also known as Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, is a beautiful and vibrant plant native to Washington that attracts butterflies with its stunning blooms.

Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Its clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers are irresistible to butterflies and other pollinators, making it an important addition to any butterfly-friendly garden.

Not only do these flowers provide a source of nectar for butterflies, but they also offer a pleasing visual welcome.

Moreover, Blueblossom is a low-maintenance plant and can adapt to various conditions, ensuring that both novice and experienced gardeners can enjoy the sight of butterflies fluttering around its blossoms.

  • Plant Species: Ceanothus thyrsiflorus
  • Plant Family: Rhamnaceae
  • Growth Habit: Shrub-like, it can reach up to 20 feet in height
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Western North America, specifically along the coast of California to Washington
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, meaning it will return year after year
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, nectar-rich for pollinators; leaves, providing shelter for various butterfly species

Whether you are a gardener looking to create a butterfly haven or simply someone who loves the sight of butterflies dancing around flowers, incorporating Blueblossom into your landscape is an excellent choice.

The captivating color and low-maintenance nature of this plant are sure to enrich both your outdoor space and the lives of the majestic creatures that visit it.

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Salal, a native plant of Washington, is an excellent choice for attracting butterflies to your garden.

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

This evergreen shrub grows densely and produces dark green, leathery leaves that provide a welcome contrast to other plants in your landscape.

In the late spring and early summer, dainty, white or pink bell-shaped flowers emerge, followed by round, dark blue berries in the fall.

Butterflies, especially the Western Tiger Swallowtail, love to feed on the nectar-rich flowers, making Salal a wonderful addition to a butterfly garden.

To grow Salal, choose a spot with well-draining soil and partial to full shade.

The plant is relatively low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, making it perfect for busy gardeners or those looking to conserve water resources.

  • Plant Species: Gaultheria shallon
  • Plant Family: Ericaceae
  • Growth Habit: Evergreen shrub
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Western North America, from Alaska to California
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Leaves, flowers, and berries

Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Red Flowering Currant is a stunning plant that is sure to attract butterflies to your garden in Washington.

Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

This deciduous shrub produces clusters of eye-catching red, tubular flowers that are not only visually appealing but also a great source of nectar for butterflies.

It also provides an excellent habitat for other wildlife such as birds and bees.

So, if you want to create a vibrant, wildlife-friendly garden, Red Flowering Currant is the plant for you.

Here are some quick facts about Red Flowering Currant:

  • Plant Species: Ribes sanguineum
  • Plant Family: Grossulariaceae
  • Growth Habit: Deciduous shrub
  • Flowering Time: March to June
  • Distribution: Native to western North America, from Alaska to California
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers and berries

If you decide to add Red Flowering Currant to your garden, make sure to plant it in well-drained soil with partial shade to full sun exposure.

Water the soil deeply but infrequently and provide plenty of organic matter to ensure your plant will thrive.

Your efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful array of flowers that will attract butterflies and keep your garden bustling with life.

Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Goldenrod is an extremely popular choice among gardeners who are looking to attract butterflies to their gardens.

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Not only does it provide a beautiful burst of color, but it also offers essential nectar and pollen for a variety of butterfly species.

This perennial plant is both easy to grow and maintain, making it the perfect addition to any butterfly-friendly environment.

  • Plant Species: Solidago canadensis
  • Plant Family: Asteraceae
  • Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial
  • Flowering Time: July to September
  • Distribution: Throughout North America, including Washington State
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers

Goldenrod thrives in various conditions but prefers well-draining soils and at least partial sun.

The plant can reach heights of up to 4 feet, with its beautiful yellow flowers taking center stage.

These lovely blooms attract not only butterflies but also bees and other beneficial insects, further helping your garden ecosystem.

As an added bonus, goldenrod is resistant to many pests and diseases, making it an easy plant to care for overall.

With its gorgeous appearance, incredible versatility and butterfly-attracting capabilities, it’s no wonder why goldenrod is a favorite among gardeners in Washington and beyond.

Douglas Aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum)

Douglas aster, also known as Symphyotrichum subspicatum, is a beautiful flowering plant that not only adds vibrant colors to your garden but also attracts butterflies.

Douglas Aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum)

Growing in moist meadows, forest edges, and stream banks, this plant can be a great addition for creating a butterfly-friendly environment in your Washington garden.

  • Plant Species: Symphyotrichum subspicatum
  • Plant Family: Asteraceae
  • Growth Habit: Perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall
  • Flowering Time: July to September
  • Distribution: Found throughout the western United States and British Columbia
  • Life Cycle: Produces rhizomes that allow the plant to spread and flowers that develop into seeds
  • Plant Part Used: The flowers and leaves are the primary parts of the plant that attract butterflies

Douglas aster is not only a beautiful and relatively low-maintenance plant but also a great choice for those who love to see butterflies fluttering around their gardens.

Plant this flower in a sunny location with well-drained soil, and enjoy the gorgeous purple petals as well as the delightful sight of butterflies congregating around them.

Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)

The Western Buttercup, scientifically known as Ranunculus occidentalis, is a vibrant plant native to Washington that attracts various beautiful butterfly species.

Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)

This magnificent plant produces bright yellow flowers, creating an eye-catching display making your garden attractive not only to butterflies but also to people.

Adding Western Buttercups to your garden can help encourage these delicate creatures to be present, enriching the ecological balance and adding beauty to the environment.

  • Plant Species: Ranunculus occidentalis
  • Plant Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
  • Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial wildflower
  • Flowering Time: March to July
  • Distribution: Western North America, primarily found along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, regrowing from the rootstock every year
  • Plant Part Used: Roots, flowers, leaves

When it comes to planting Western Buttercups, you’ll want to choose a location with well-drained soil and partial sun to provide optimal growing conditions.

Keep in mind to add these stunning wildflowers to your garden, you’ll need to ensure they receive the care and attention necessary to thrive.

These plants, known for their numerous petals and lively colors, will lift your spirits and enchant the butterflies gracing your garden.

Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)

Broadleaf Lupine, scientifically known as Lupinus latifolius, is a species that is not only attractive to butterflies, but also beneficial to the overall ecosystem.

Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)

With its vibrant blue-purple flowers, this plant can easily become the centerpiece for any butterfly garden.

On top of their visual appeal, Broadleaf Lupines also provide an essential source of nectar for various pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.

Key facts about Broadleaf Lupine:

  • Plant Species: Lupinus latifolius
  • Plant Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
  • Growth Habit: Perennial, bushy plant that grows between 1.5 to 4 feet tall
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Native to Western North America, from Washington to California coastal regions
  • Life Cycle: Typically blooms in its second year, but can continue to grow and bloom for several more
  • Plant Part Used: Bright blue-purple flowers, tall stems, and palmately compound leaves

When planting Broadleaf Lupine, it is important to choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

This plant can tolerate a range of soils, from sandy to clay, but does best in moderately fertile conditions.

Make sure to water the plant regularly during the dry season to ensure a healthy growth and a thriving butterfly garden.

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Western Trillium is a beautiful woodland wildflower that is native to the Pacific Northwest.

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

It’s cherished for its captivating three-petaled white flowers that gradually turn pink as they age.

These showy flowers act as a magnet for butterflies, which are drawn to them for their nectar.

Providing a fantastic source of food for the winged beauties, Western Trillium can work wonders in creating a butterfly paradise for your Washington garden.

  • Plant Species: Trillium ovatum
  • Plant Family: Melanthiaceae
  • Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial
  • Flowering Time: April to June
  • Distribution: Western North America, from California to Alaska
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, with flowers lasting up to 3 weeks
  • Plant Part Used: Landscape gardening and butterfly gardens

Planting Western Trillium in your garden will provide butterflies with nourishment, while adding a touch of elegance to your landscape.

Due to its perennial nature, you can expect these breathtaking flowers to return each year, bringing with them the delightful, fluttering visitors we all adore.

So, if you’re looking to attract butterflies to your Washington garden, don’t forget to include Western Trillium in your list of must-have plants.

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)

Nootka Rose is an eye-catching flower that not only adds an aesthetic appeal to the landscape, but also serves as a great attractant to butterflies.

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)

Its delicate pink flowers and lush foliage make it a beautiful addition to any garden setting.

This plant can also provide a valuable source of nectar for native bees and hummingbirds, as well as shelter and food for various wildlife species.

  • Plant Species: Rosa nutkana
  • Plant Family: Rosaceae
  • Growth Habit: Deciduous shrub
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Western North America from Alaska to California, and east to Montana
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, leaves, hips

Apart from its numerous wildlife benefits, Nootka Rose has been utilized by indigenous communities for generations.

Its leaves and flowers can be used in teas, while its fruit or rose hips can be consumed raw or cooked. They are not only tasty but also a rich source of vitamin C.

If you want butterflies to grace your garden, planting Nootka Rose is an excellent choice.

Its vibrant flowers and inviting fragrance will surely draw these winged beauties, adding life and color to your outdoor space.

Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)

You might be familiar with the charming Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) as it is commonly seen in gardens throughout Washington.

Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)

It is widely admired for its pleasant fragrance and stunning white flowers that bloom in clusters, creating a striking visual display.

These attractive blooms lure in butterflies, making Mock Orange a must-have addition to your butterfly-attracting garden.

  • Plant Species: Philadelphus lewisii
  • Plant Family: Hydrangeaceae
  • Growth Habit: Deciduous shrub
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Native to the western United States, extending from southern British Columbia to northern California, and eastward to Montana and Idaho
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, leaves, and bark

Mock Orange is relatively easy to grow and care for; it thrives in full sun or partial shade and prefers well-drained soil.

This versatile plant adapts to a wide range of climates, making it suitable for many gardens.

Additionally, Mock Orange can grow up to 10 feet tall, so it can serve as a beautiful backdrop to your butterfly garden.

Besides attracting butterflies, it also provides shelter to birds, contributing to overall biodiversity in your outdoor space.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)

The Western Wallflower is an attractive plant with vibrant yellow-orange flowers that are sure to draw attention to your garden.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)

Not only is it eye-catching, but it also serves an essential role in attracting butterflies.

By adding this plant to your Washington garden, you’ll be providing a valuable nectar source for butterflies and other pollinators.

  • Plant Species: Erysimum capitatum
  • Plant Family: Brassicaceae
  • Growth Habit: Upright and branching, typically growing 1-3 feet tall
  • Flowering Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Distribution: Native to the western United States, including Washington State
  • Life Cycle: Biennial or short-lived perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers and leaves

In addition to its beauty, the Western Wallflower is a drought-tolerant plant, making it an excellent choice for a low-maintenance garden.

Additionally, this plant serves as a larval host for several butterfly species, so you’ll not only enjoy the flowers but also the sight of beautiful caterpillars transforming into butterflies.

Give your Washington garden a pop of color and attract beneficial insects by planting the Western Wallflower.

Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Red-Osier Dogwood, also known as Cornus sericea, is a popular plant that attracts various butterfly species in Washington.

Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

This versatile and stunning shrub adds an element of beauty to your garden with its vibrant red stems and elegant white flowers.

Not only does it provide visual interest, but it also serves as a source of food and shelter for butterflies, making it an essential plant for any butterfly garden.

  • Plant Species: Cornus sericea
  • Plant Family: Cornaceae
  • Growth Habit: Shrub
  • Flowering Time: May-July
  • Distribution: Western North America, including Washington
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Stems, leaves, and flowers

Red-Osier Dogwood is characterized by its rapid growth and adaptability to various soil types and moisture.

Its clusters of small, creamy-white flowers and vibrant red stems make it stand out against a lush green backdrop.

The berries it produces are an important source of food for birds and other wildlife, highlighting its ecological value.

To ensure the survival and growth of this plant in your butterfly garden, make sure to plant it in well-draining soil with full sun to partial shade.

Regular pruning aids in maintaining its attractive shape and encourages healthy growth.

All these attributes make the Red-Osier Dogwood an ideal plant not only for its ornamental value but also for its role in attracting butterflies to your garden.

Western Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Western Serviceberry, also known as Amelanchier alnifolia, is a fantastic plant to consider when you’re looking to attract butterflies to your Washington garden.

Western Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

This attractive shrub or small tree produces gorgeous clusters of white, fragrant flowers in the spring, followed by small, sweet berries in the summer.

The berries also attract a variety of bird species, making this plant a great choice for supporting local wildlife.

Here are some key points about the Western Serviceberry:

  • Plant Species: Amelanchier alnifolia
  • Plant Family: Rosaceae
  • Growth Habit: Shrub or small tree, typically between 6 and 15 feet tall
  • Flowering Time: Spring, usually around April to May
  • Distribution: Found throughout the western United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain regions
  • Life Cycle: Perennial, meaning it will grow back year after year
  • Plant Part Used: Flowers, leaves, and berries all provide nectar, pollen, and food sources for butterflies and other pollinators

In addition to its beauty and wildlife value, the Western Serviceberry also makes a lovely addition to your landscape because of its year-round interest.

The white flowers in the spring, the deep green leaves in the summer, and the vibrant, reddish-orange fall foliage keep your garden visually appealing all year long.

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon Grape is a beautiful and versatile plant that is perfect for attracting butterflies in Washington.

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Its vibrant yellow flowers and dark, holly-like leaves make it a favorite among garden enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

  • Plant Species: Mahonia aquifolium
  • Plant Family: Berberidaceae
  • Growth Habit: Evergreen shrub
  • Flowering Time: April to June
  • Distribution: Western North America, including Washington state
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Plant Part Used: Leaves, flowers, and fruits

Oregon Grape is beloved by butterflies for its nectar-rich flowers, which are typically in bloom from April to June.

The bright yellow blossoms are not only charming, but they also serve as an essential food source for various butterfly species.

Additionally, the fruits of this plant provide food for birds and other wildlife, making Oregon Grape a crucial component of a diverse and flourishing ecosystem.

When adding Oregon Grape to your garden, keep in mind that it thrives in partial shade and well-draining soil.

The plant can reach a height of 3-6 feet, so be sure to give it ample space to grow and spread.

With its brilliant flowers and hardy nature, Oregon Grape is certainly a top choice for Washington residents looking to create a butterfly oasis in their backyards.


Incorporating these 20 butterfly-attracting plants into your Washington garden not only creates a vibrant and colorful landscape but also supports the local butterfly populations.

Whether you’re an avid gardener or just starting out, these plants are great additions to any outdoor space.

Share your butterfly garden experiences in the comments below – we’d love to hear which plants worked best for you!

Butterflies   Updated: June 19, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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