Butterfly Gardens

Miami University and its students, staff, and faculty are devoted to supporting a sustainable campus through environmental restoration projects. Miami's butterfly gardens all have flowering plants that are native to the area and provide homes and food for native animal species:

  • photo of spicebush swallowtail caterpillarPearson Plaza Butterfly Garden
  • Upham Hall Bluestone Gardens
  • Rec Center Butterfly Garden
  • Natural Areas Bird Blind Butterfly Gardens

Butterflies, hummingbirds, other birds, and a number of species of bees are found on our gardens.

Host plants are plants that the butterfly lays the eggs on and the caterpillar feeds upon. Nectar plants are for the adults to feed on. Nectar is provided by the flowers. Many butterflies are host specific. Monarchs, for example, need milkweed for a host plant and zebra swallowtail butterflies need paw-paw to lay eggs.

Pearson Plaza Butterfly Garden

The Pearson Plaza Butterfly Garden is a certified Monarch Waystation, and students, staff, and faculty participate in collecting data on the Great Monarch Migration. Many of the plants in this garden have been chosen because they are either host plants, nectar plants, or both.

photo of several flowers found in the Pearson Plaza Butterfly Garden

The following is more detailed information about these plants, including their scientific name, cultivar(s), the pollinators(s) that are primarily attracted to each plant, and some information about the conditions the plants need to thrive.

Arrowwood Viburnum

Scientific Name: Viburnum dentatum
Cultivar: 'Blue Muffin'
Notes: This shrub has showy fruit, and will attract birds and butterflies. This is a host plant for Baltimore checkerspot, spring azure, Henry's elfin butterflies and hummingbird moths.


Scientific Name: Pentsemon digitalis
Cultivars: 'Husker Red', 'Prairie Dusk'
Notes: This plant is great if you don't want to put too much effort into your garden, and will attract hummingbirds, as well as butterflies. Although not the plant on which females lay their eggs, half-grown Baltimore checkerspot caterpillars often seek Penstemon as a food source.

Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea

Scientific Name: Monarda didyma
Cultivars: 'Jacob Kline', 'Raspberry Wine', 'Coral Reef'
Notes: As the name would suggest, beebalm is wildly popular for many types of bees.


Scientific Name: Gaura lindheimeri
Cultivar: 'Whirling Butterflies'
Notes: As the cultivar name would suggest, this plant attracts many types of butterflies.

Black-Eyed Susan

Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta
Cultivar: 'Rudbeckia'
Notes: This plant tolerates clay and drought. This plant is great for attracting butterflies.

Blazing Star, Spiked Gayfeather

Scientific Name: Liatris spicata
Cultivar: 'Kobold'
Notes: This plant is resistant to pests and disease, and is a great nectar plant for butterflies including painted ladies. The birds feast on the seeds when plants are done blooming.

Butterfly Bush

Scientific Name: Buddleja davidii
Cultivar: 'Pink Delight'
Notes: As the name would suggest, the butterfly bush is good for providing nectar for butterflies.

Butterfly Weed

Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
Cultivar: native
Notes: This is one of the three milkweeds native to this area, the only host plant for monarchs. It has beautiful orange blooms. As the name would suggest, this plant is perfect for butterflies!

Cardinal Flower

Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis
Cultivar: native
Notes: Because of its red coloring, this flower will attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies.

Chokeberry (Red and Black)

Scientific Name: Aronia arbutifolia and Aronia melanocarpa
Cultivar: 'Brilliantissima'
Notes: This shrub is great for resisting erosion and can grow in clay soil.

Garden Phlox

Scientific Name: Phlox paniculata
Cultivar: 'David'
Notes: This plant will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Watch out — deer love phlox.


Scientific Name: Geranium hybrid
Cultivars: 'Tiny Monster', 'Rozanne'
Notes: Any plant in the Geranium genus will attract butterflies. Native perennial geraniums like these are the best.


Scientific Name: Solidago shortii
Cultivar: 'Solar Cascade'
Notes: This is a great fall blooming plant for monarchs to nectar on as they migrate south. This is a hardy plant primarily attracts butterflies, as well as deters deer.

Magnolia 'Butterflies'

Scientific Name: Magnolia acuminata x M. denudata
Cultivar: 'Butterflies'
Notes: This tree, as the name would suggest, is great for butterflies.

Milkweed, Common

Scientific Name: Asclepias syriaca
Cultivar: native
Notes: Like other milkweeds, the common milkweed is the only host plant for monarch.

Milkweed, Swamp

Scientific Name: Asclepias incarnata
Cultivar: 'Cinderella'
Notes: Milkweed of any kind is perfect for monarch butterflies. They use milkweed as a host plant, i.e. lay their eggs on it. Once the caterpillars hatch, they eat the milkweed on which they were born.

New York Aster

Scientific Name: Aster dumosus
Cultivars: 'Wood's Pink', 'Wood's Light Blue', 'Wood's Purple'
Notes: These beautiful, colorful flowers will attract butterflies to your garden. They are one of the fall blooming flowers that monarch butterflies can use during their migration to Mexico.

Obedient Plant

Scientific Name: Physostegia virginiana
Cultivar: 'Vivid'
Notes: This plant is a hummingbird-, bumblebee-, and carpenter-bee-magnet for your garden.


Scientific Name: Asimina triloba
Cultivar: native
Notes: Because of their purple-red and odorous flowers, flies and beetles are the primary pollinators for this tree. This is the only host plant for the zebra swallowtail butterfly. This is the only tropical fruit plant to survive the ice age.

Peegee Hydrangea

Scientific Name: Hydrangea paniculata
Cultivar: 'Peegee'
Notes: This shrub is native to China and Japan, and will bloom late into summer. It also serves as a nectar plant for native butterflies and bees.

Persian Onion

Scientific Name: Allium cristophii
Cultivar: 'Purple Sensation'
Notes: This flower (which is in the family of onions and leeks) is great for attracting butterflies as well as bees.

Purple Coneflower

Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
Cultivar: 'Magnus'
Notes: This hardy plant can grow in just about any kind of soil, are resistant to deer, and will attract butterflies. It is a host plant for silvery checkerspot.


Scientific Name: Amelanchier arborea
Cultivar: native
Notes: We've seen cedar waxwings feeding on the berries on this tree. This beautiful flowering tree can survive in clay soil or in heavily polluted air. It is a host plant for the spotted purple caterpillar, striped hairstreak, Lorquin's admiral, and Weidemeyer's admiral.

Shasta Daisy

Scientific Name: Leucanthemum x superbum
Cultivar: 'Becky'
Notes: This plant will tolerate rabbits and deer, and attract butterflies.


Scientific Name: Lindera benzoin
Cultivar: native
Notes: While good as a host plant for butterflies in general, they are the only host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies.

Stokes' Aster

Scientific Name: Stokesia laevis
Notes: This, like many other asters, brings butterflies to a garden.


Scientific Name: Sedum spp.
Cultivar: 'Autumn Joy'
Notes: Even in poor or average soil, this plant will attract butterflies.


Scientific Name: Helianthus x multiflorus
Cultivar: 'Sunshine Daydream'
Notes: This summer-blooming plant is great for butterflies!

Sweet Coneflower

Scientific Name: Rudbeckia submentosa
Cultivar: 'Henry Eilers'
Notes: These flowers are most popular among a variety of bees, as well as small and medium sized butterflies.

Trumpet Creeper

Scientific Name: Campsis radicans
Cultivars: 'Atomic Red', 'Madame Galen'
Notes: These red/orange blooms are great for attracting hummingbirds. The plant is a larval host for the trumpet vine sphinx moth.

Veronica, Speedwell

Scientific Name: Veronica spicata
Cultivars: 'Royal Candles', 'Sunny Border Blue'
Notes: Use this plant along garden borders or rocky gardens. It will tolerate rabbits and deer and is attractive to both bees and butterflies.

Weeping Cherry

Scientific Name: Prunus spp.
Cultivar: 'Snow Fountains'
Notes: This beautiful cherry tree is primarily pollinated by bees. It only blooms for a few days out of the year, but it is stunningly beautiful.


Scientific Name: Achillea millefollium
Cultivar: 'Moonshine'
Notes: This full-sun, summer-blooming plant is great for butterflies.

Promote Environmental Restoration!

Help promote environmental restoration at home! If you are interested in starting a butterfly garden of your own, some local nurseries include: