With some of the most intricate, long-lasting, and downright iconic blooms to be found in any garden, dahlias are undoubtedly one of our favorite flowers. They are simple to plant, easy to care for, and make stunning additions to arrangements, where they can easily outlast all other blooms. The only thing that could possibly make them even more attractive to us would be if they brought bounties of equally beautiful butterflies into our yards, too.
Butterflies & Dahlias
When it comes to butterflies and how attracted they are to our beloved dahlias, the answer is not black and white. The truth is, both can be said about this diverse genus, depending on which dahlias you may be considering.
Dahlias that are more single-flowered with a noticeable array of stamens are very popular with pollinators. These varieties offer open centers, which makes the pollen highly accessible, so they won’t have to go digging for their food. Monarchs, in particular, adore them and we always have a few stopping by to visit ours in September and October on their way south.
Fully double ones, on the other hand, typically aren’t as popular with pollinators thanks to the shape and style of their parts. Their piles and piles of petals may be something which we adore, however, they prove more of a hassle to our fluttering friends who won’t be as enticed to stop in for a taste.
Dahlias to Attract Butterflies
While not all dahlias will be a hit, these stunning varieties have proven to be popular picks with pollinators of all shapes and sizes, including butterflies.
Happy Single Romeo: With a single layer of dark red petals clustered around an even darker center, the yellow stamens of this variety pop into the foreground and command attention, so they certainly won’t be missed by a fluttering passer-by.
Taxi Driver: If you’re looking for a bright and cheery flower to bring a touch of yellow to your yard, this sunny variety will be a winner for both you and the butterflies. Contrasted against deep, dark foliage, the lightness of this single-flowered variety easily stands out in the crowd and the red-tinged center offers an attractive bullseye for the butterflies to focus in on.
Dracula: They may be named after a monster, but the blooms of these devilish dahlias are anything but terrifying. Their dark pink centers paired with layers of lighter pink petals provide the perfect background for the yellow stamens for creating a speckled paint aesthetic that both you and the butterflies will love.
Gallery LaTour: One of the rare double-blooming dahlias adored by butterflies, the Gallery LaTour offers billowing layers of lovely lavender-pink petals. The difference of this double-bloomer is its distinct reproductive center highlighted by yellow-tinged petals, making it easier for pollinators to see, and drawing them in.
Other Plants to Attract Butterflies
Packing your garden full of butterfly-friendly dahlias is certainly a great way to pull them in for a quick visit. However, just as we don’t want to eat the same meal day after day, butterflies enjoy a little variety in their diet. Additionally, some pollinators with particular tastes might find themselves attracted to blooms that aren’t this pretty variety. Give them the choice they crave by layering other popular pollinator plants such as these!
Asclepias: Also known as milkweed, asclepias is not just a popular plant with pollinators, it’s an essential one. As a crucial larval food source for young monarchs, it doesn’t just feed the butterflies, but it actually nourishes them from birth! Plus, its colorful clusters of tiny flowers are fantastic for adding a feathery floral texture to our landscape.
Crocosmia: Also known as sword lilies, these tubular blooms burst with fiery colors that make an impact in any garden, both aesthetically and in how many butterflies they attract. With prominent, elongated stamens that are perfect for feeding, they are simply irresistible to pollinators.
Echinacea: More commonly known as coneflower, echinacea offers prominent seed heads that are beloved by pollinators in the summer and birds in the fall. Their odd shape is eye-catching in the garden and a popular stop for our favorite pollinators. As a native plant, it’s also incredibly low-maintenance.
Hibiscus: These tropical lovelies are perfect for turning your backyard into an oasis with delicate, soft plate flowers that are loved by butterflies and humans, alike.
Lilies: The big, bold blooms of lilies are perfect for butterflies to perch on as they enjoy a taste!
Salvia: Gardeners across the country swear by salvia’s effectiveness at drawing in butterflies, making it a must-have for any pollinator garden. With pretty plumes of colorful flowers, they’ll also quickly become a favorite of yours, too.
If attracting butterflies is your goal, dahlias could be the answer, but only with certain varieties. However, by populating your garden with a plethora of pollinator plants - including many types of dahlia - you can enjoy the beauty of both butterflies and dahlias, no matter which varieties you choose!