Do Butterflies Like Petunias?


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Delicate yet hardy, the petunia is a much-loved plant that’s a staple of hanging baskets across the US. They’re also well known for propagating wildly without much encouragement! Petunias will likely bring a variety of wildlife to your garden, but do butterflies like petunias in particular?

Butterflies love petunias! They grow out in the wide open in full sun, making them easy for your local insects to spot. In fact, petunias prove to be a fantastic attractor for many different animals that are beneficial to our gardens.

Why do butterflies like petunias?

Petunias prove the ideal formula for what butterflies look for in flowers – they are bright, resistant to the heat, and love sunshine. Butterflies won’t tend to fly into shady spots to hunt for nectar, meaning you’ll need all the sun-loving blooms your garden can handle. That said, shade is good for butterflies looking to cool down occasionally – so try and grow a few colorful flowers under cover, too.

Petunias are shaped to support the feeding habits of the average butterfly. They are trumpet-shaped with petals that plume outwards, which means they have a spot to rest while eating nectar from within. Unlike some pollinators (such as hummingbirds), butterflies cannot feed in mid-air, meaning a flower with a seat is welcome!

Butterflies also show a fondness for plants that grow at a certain height. Petunias will only grow to around 1.5 feet tall at the highest, meaning they will never have to flutter too high for a feed. 

Red and pink petunias appeal to butterflies the most, though they are not as attracted to specific colors as other pollinators in the garden.

Do petunias attract hummingbirds and butterflies?

Petunias appeal to both hummingbirds and butterflies thanks to their color and shape. While the butterfly enjoys petunia flower shapes because they can rest easily, the trumpet blooms also allow hummingbirds to drink deeply from inside the flower itself. 

Hummingbird beaks and tongues struggle to eat nectar from flatter flowers – so petunias are mutually beneficial to these species.

Red petunias, too, will likely give both species exclusive access to nectar. Bees and other insects can’t see the color red very well – if at all – and will therefore likely pass these shades by. So, if you wish to attract butterflies but not bees to your garden, red-hued petunias are ideal.

Are petunias easy to grow?

Petunias are generally easy to grow, providing you deadhead them regularly across the warmer months. You’re likely to start welcoming hummingbirds later on in the year with blooming petunias, even into the fall – and some species will readily propagate without you needing to apply much care.

Pinching off these blooms, in fact, will do just as good as thorough deadheading after they’ve started blooming. This will normally start occurring in the spring, making them some of the longest-lasting pollinator plants if you’re able to put the time in.

To grow petunias, your garden should ideally fall within USDA zones 8 and 11. You’re going to need to water these plants semi-regularly and avoid planting them in the shade. Even in half-shade, petunias are not only likely to wilt, but they also won’t attract any butterflies, either.

Don’t worry too much about soil moistness when growing petunias. They tend to fare well in dry soil, but maintain a healthy balance of moisture. You don’t have to grow these flowers out in the wide-open lawn. Many gardeners love planting and showing them off in hanging baskets and raised pots, too. Remember not to hang or place them too high up to avoid butterfly attention!

What flowers do butterflies like the most?

Butterflies tend to have broad tastes for flowers, but you can usually rely on lantanas, snapdragons, lavender, butterfly bushes, and chrysanthemums to attract these useful insects.

Petunias just happen to tick all of the right boxes. As with other pollinators you may wish to bring to your yard, be sure to grow various plants and flowers. Butterflies prefer to feed on different blooms – and if you can grow species that are native to your local area (or at least the US), you’re more likely to see them fluttering your way.

Alongside planting flowers butterflies love, it’s likely worth growing your garden a little longer than usual. Butterflies love wild, open spaces – and are attracted to overgrowth.

Petunias, however, are delicate blooms that you can decorate your garden with to attract butterflies without going ‘too wild’. The choice is yours!

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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