Native Flowers for Butterflies in Sacramento

If you want to create a biodiverse and sustainable garden, plant these native flowers for butterflies in Sacramento. When considering which native plants to plant in your yard, why not select for plants that will attract these beautiful fluttering pollinators and create a hub of native color around your home?

Native flowers for butterflies in sacramento thistle
Monarch on thistle

There are over 1300 butterfly and moth species native to California. Many of these insects have developed important relationships with the plants that thrive naturally in our various unique California environments. The Sacramento region experiences mild winters and scorching hot summers. The plants that thrive in this region are hardy and often drought-tolerant.

Planting native plants in our yards is just one small thing we can do to maintain a healthy ecosystem and support our local pollinators. Butterflies in particular are attracted to both host plants and the more vibrant, nectar-rich plants. Native plants are more environmentally friendly and, in the case of monarchs and milkweed plants, are often vital to the lifecycle of the insect. Butterflies also prefer shelter from harsh winds, a freshwater source, and a wide-open sunny space.

If you’re looking for some natural landscaping and gardening inspiration, visit the scene of a California Super Bloom in the spring and summer! For more ideas on plants that attract common butterflies as well as common butterfly host plants, check out Plants That Attract Butterflies!

What are host plants?

Host plants provide a food source for caterpillars and are often a safe place for butterflies to lay their eggs, while nectar plants simply attract butterflies with their nectar stores. These plants attract female butterflies through the chemicals they emit. Once found, females will begin laying eggs on various parts of the plant. Males are also attracted to host plants because these are the places they are most likely to find females for mating. Some common butterfly host plants include violets, dill, asters, and native grasses.

Not all host plants are equally attractive across the board. Different species of butterflies rely on different host plants for the reproductive process and also prefer differing nectar sources. Gardeners hoping to design a butterfly garden might focus on a few key butterfly species they wish to attract, and select host and nectar plants accordingly. Another option is to simply plant a diverse selection of native plants and take pleasure in witnessing all the native butterflies that show up.

Native Sacramento Plants that Attract Butterflies

Top 15 native plants that will support and attract butterflies within 30 miles of the Sacramento Area:

Native PlantsScientific Name
California buckeyeAesculus californica
Coyote mint Monardella villosa
Yerba santa Eriodictyon californicum
Dogbane Apocynum androsaemifolium
Common yarrow Achillea millefolium
Blue dicks/purpleheads Dichelostemma capitatum
Mountain coyote mintMonardella odoratissima
MilkweedAsclepias fascicularis
California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum
Mule fatBaccharis salicifolia
Sand-dune/Western wallflowerErysimum capitatum
Cobweb thistleCirsium occidentale
Cleveland sageSalvia clevelandii
Bluehead giliaGilia capitata
Black sageSalvia mellifera

Here are just a few butterflies and moths you may see grace your garden after planting these native plants. These butterflies will often be found visiting native plants on the list above.

Supported Native Butterflies
California sister
Gulf fritillary
Sara orangetip
Sachem or Grass skipper
Common buckeye
Painted lady
Common checkered-skipper
California tortoiseshell
Northern checkerspot
Great Basin wood-nymph
Orange sulfur/Alfalfa butterfly
Great purple hairstreak
Brown elfin
Mormon metalmark
Western pygmy blue
Large heath/Common ringlet
Harford’s sulphur
Mournful duskywing

California Native Plant Guide

For a comprehensive list of butterfly species present in California, check out Art Shapiro’s Butterfly Site. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has also put together this complete butterfly plant list for your reference. Here are two more excellent resources for learning about native butterflies in your area and their specific ranges.

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