Adult butterflies are drawn to yellow, orange, red, purple and pink blossoms with clustered or flat tops that have short flower tubes, such as garden phlox, butterfly weed, blanket flower and blazing star. Butterflies also like pollen and nectar plants that grow and bloom under the bright sun.
Butterflies coexist with native flowers and plants in specific regions and naturally gravitate towards these familiar blooms. Butterflies in Florida, for example, are familiar with the cream-white flowers of the button or wild sage, an easy-to-cultivate native flower in Florida with a long-blooming period. Button sage also has nectar flowers that have flat, clustered petals and a fragrant scent, characteristics that naturally draw butterflies.
Flowers with large, drooping petals also attract butterflies that are seeking a place to land and rest. The purple coneflower is an example of an excellent landing pad for larger butterflies, such as monarchs and swallowtails.
While colorful and fragrant pollinator flowers attract butterflies, some flowers and plants serve as food sources for the butterflies' eggs. The female butterfly carefully chooses the plant or flower by its leaf color and shape, and it usually picks plants, such as wild senna, grasses, mistletoe, figwort and sagebrush. The caterpillar feeds on the plant's flowers and leaves, but the damage is usually minimal and temporary.