Gardens and native plants

Butterfly gardens

Graphic of monarch butterflies.

Enjoy Backyard Wildlife with a Butterfly, Moth and Hummingbird Garden

Your backyard flower garden can become a lively butterfly, moth, and hummingbird garden if you choose the right flowers. Here are some top choices for a beautiful flower bed that will be irresistible to these wild creatures.

For butterflies:

    Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
    Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
    Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
    Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
    Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera)
    Meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis)
    Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
    Pink everlasting (Sedum alboroseum)
    Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

For Ruby-throated hummingbirds:

    Scarlet bergamot (Monarda didyma)
    Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
    Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

For White-lined sphinx moths:

    Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) - the moths feed on this at dusk


  • The milkweeds and blazing stars may be available only from nurseries that specialize in native prairie plants.
  • Be sure to allow lots of space for the Mexican sunflower - it will be at least 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall at maturity. It is an annual, along with the vinca, flowering tobacco, and scarlet runner bean. All the others are perennials, or are annuals that reseed themselves.
  • For further details, see the book Landscaping for Wildlife, published by the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota DNR.
  • Butterfly, bee & moth garden designs.

Prepared by Carrol Henderson, Supervisor, Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota DNR