How To Attract Butterflies In Fall

Excerpted from: Fall Butterfly Flowers

Most people think of summer as the ideal time for butterfly gardening, but there are many fall butterflies seen in the fall as well. It's important to plant fall flowers for the butterflies because they need energy.

September is a peak time for butterflies. Butterflies are almost guaranteed to linger in your garden into autumn and even winter if their caterpillar (larval) food plants are available.

Monarchs are one of the butterflies usually seen late in the year, appearing around September. Their larval food is milkweed. Monarchs seem to fly north before the emergence of butterfly weed, an orange milkweed found on dry, sunny roadsides.

For more information on Monarchs in fall, see:
Monarch Fall Migration

Unlike migrating monarchs, many butterfly species often stay in hospitable gardens. There is a wide variety of fall butterfly flowers available that will grow in all areas of the country. Many fall flowers last until the first frost or even later, providing ample opportunities for your fluttering friends to feed. Besides Monarch butterflies, commonly seen in the fall are: Cloudless Sulphur, Question Mark, Common Buckeye, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Red Admiral, Red Spotted Purple or Black Swallowtail butterflies.

Fall Care For Your Butterfly Garden

Red-Spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax

You should take special care in that part of the garden when doing your fall clean-up chores. Just because it looks like all the butterflies have gone away does not mean there aren't larvae or chrysalises hanging out some place you can't see.

Resist the urge to clean up this part of the garden because you might be disrupting or even killing the next generation of butterflies that will grace your garden next year.

Fall Butterfly Flower List


Asters are a great choice for butterflies, particularly the New England aster which has orange-centered purple flowers and can grow up to six feet high. These flowers appreciate regular watering.


Goldenrod is a wonderful plant that is good for butterflies and comes in many different varieties. There are many varieties for your sunny location.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe-Pye weed is another good choice for an easy growing butterfly flower. This plant also likes consistent water, well-drained soil and full sun. They will reward you with tall plants and masses of small purple flowers that also attract bees.

Other good choices for fall-blooming butterfly flowers are:

Also Try These Plants

• Sunflowers
• Mistflower
• Mountain Mint

• Milkweed
• Meadow Blazing Star
• Anise Hyssop

• Lavenders
• Oregano
• Sage family

Keeping the butterflies in your yard as long as possible is a great way to extend the season and put off thinking about the cold weather that is sure to follow soon.

Further Information:

 Butterflies and Moths of North America
 Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Assn (NABA)
 The Butterfly Site

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