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How to Create a Butterfly Garden in Australia

Creating a butterfly garden is anything but new. In fact, there are more resources available via Google on how to make a butterfly garden than the practice of creating a square foot garden. But, what if the garden you are trying to create needs to be limited to container plants?


Those gardeners who live in apartments, lifestyle villages, or who only have space on their rooftops are limited to what they can plant. Everything they grow must be contained in some form of pot rather than in garden soil. So, is it possible to create a butterfly container garden?

Sure, it’s just a matter of choosing the right plants that will survive living in a container, and still entice butterflies.

Keys to Growing Butterfly Plants in Containers

  • Select the right container – this is paramount to your success in growing the plants that butterflies like. For example, if you choose to grow Buddleja davidii you will need to source a sizable container to accommodate its growth. Finding pots that won’t dry out fast (which may mean sealing the inside of terracotta containers) is also as important.
  • Choose brightly coloured containers – butterflies aren’t attracted to bright colours for nectar but they are for mating. And there’s nothing like drawing a crowd. So, while your flowers may be a few weeks away from blooming, having brightly coloured pots may be the enticement they need.
  • Increase your watering – if you’ve grown many of these plants in your garden beds before then you will quickly notice that they need more water now than they’re in containers. The potting medium is far more likely to dry out because of its limited volume so prepare yourself to water every day during the warmer months.
  • Protect your plants from hot winds – if you have a rooftop or balcony garden you’re more likely to experience stronger winds. Butterfly plants being what they are, are usually quite heavy bloomers with wispy fragile stems so you may need to protect them from strong crosswinds.

Now that you have your containers already to go, what plants can you put in them to attract butterflies to your garden?

Plants that Attract Butterflies

Plants that Attract Butterflies in Your Garden

Here’s a short list of some of the plants that you will be able to grow, noticing that they all are great bloom producers. Flowers are the main reason a butterfly, like bees, will be attracted to your plants so give them as much as they want.

Not all plants will work in all areas and the butterflies that are native in your region may be more particular about which plants they like to feast on. As your butterflies begin to descend upon your garden, take notice of which plants they’re attracted to and learn from their behaviour.


Callistephus chinensis


Aubrieta deltoidea


Monarda fistulosa

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia aristata

Blue Vervain

Verbena hastata


Actaea simplex

Burning Bush

Dictamnus albus

Butterfly Bush

Buddleja davidii

Butterfly Flower

Schizanthus wisetonensis

Butterfly Lily

Hedychium coronarium

Butterfly Orchid

Oncidium papilio

Butterfly Pea

Clitoria ternatea

Californian Lilac



Iberis amara

Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis


Allium schoenoprasum


Potentilla fruticosa


Aquilegia canadensis

Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca


Echinacea purpurea

Taraxacum officinale

Dutchman’s Breeches

Dicentra cucullaria

English Lavender

Lavendula angustifolia

Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis

False Aster

Boltonia asteroides


Foeniculum vulgare

Field Scabious

Knautia arvensis



Tagetes patula


Liatris spicata


Gloriosa Daisy

Rudbeckia hirta

Goat’s Beard

Aruncus dioicus



Grape Hyacinth



Campanula rotundifolia

Heath Aster

Symphyotrichum ericoides

Helen’s Flower

Helenium autumnale

Heliotrope 'Cherry Pie'

Hemp Agrimony

Eupatorium cannabinum


Lunaria annua


Hyssopus officianalis

Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium maculatum

Lacecap Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla

Lanceleaf Coreopsis

Coreopsis lanceolata


Lavender Hyssop

Agastache foeniculum


Amorpha canescens


Syringa vulgaris

Lobelia erinus


Origanum vulgare

Meadow Rose

Rosa blanda

Mexican Orange Blossom

Choisya ternata

Passion Flower

Passiflora incarnata

Blue Passion Flower

Passiflora caerulea

Pasture Rose

Rosa carolina


Pot Marigold


Purpletop Verbena

Verbena bonariensis


Rubus idaeus

Sea Pink

Armeria maritima

Shasta Daisy

Leucanthemum × superbum

Silky Aster

Symphyotrichum sericeum

Sky Blue Aster

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense

Smooth Aster

Symphyotrichum laevis

Smooth Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum biflorum

Tradescantia ohiensis

Bracteantha bracteata

Sweet Pea

Lathyrus odoratus

Sweet pepper bush

Clethra alnifolia

Sweet Rocket

Hesperis matronalis

Sweet William

Dianthus barbatus


Cirsium rivulare





Viola pedata

Virginian Stock

Malcomia maritima

White Aster

Solidago ptarmicoides

White False Indigo

Baptisia leucantha

Wild Lupine

Lupinus perennis

Wild Prairie Rose

Rosa arkansana

Wild Senna

Cassia hebecarpa


Achillea millefolium

Last Updated on February 14, 2024

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About the author 

Nathan Schwartz

Hey, I'm Nathan Schwartz, team member at Aussie Green Thumb since 2020. I have a passion for edible plants and Australian native plants, both in the garden and in the Aussie bush.

As an avid traveller and camper, I love seeing the different landscapes and flora that Australia has to offer, and try to incorporate this into my own daily living.

Whether I am living on the road, in an apartment or have a big backyard working with practical and usable gardens in small spaces is my specialty.

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