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List of Butterfly Garden Flowers & Plants for Hawaii


This butterfly garden resource provides a complete list of butterflies found in Hawaii, along with their preferred nectar flowers and the host plants they look for to lay eggs that the butterfly caterpillars can feed on. For advice on starting a butterfly garden, see our guide, How to Make a Butterfly Garden.

As one of the most isolated island chains in the world, Hawaii is host to a small number of butterflies. There are only two native species of butterflies (Kamahameha Lady and Hawaiian or Blackburn's Blue). The other species of butterflies have been introduced to the islands. Hawaii's climate is very consistent and stable, with only two seasons: summer (May to October) and winter (November to April). The average daytime temperature of this tropical state is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime average dips to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the most popular flowers for butterflies to visit are: aster, bougainvillea, cosmos, hibiscus, impatiens, ixora, lantana, marigolds, butterfly bushes, verbena, zinnia, ko'oko'olau, nehe, and 'ohi'a leua. Visit your local nursery or horticultural center to determine which plants will work best for your garden. 

Below is a list of nectar and host plants that will grow well in Hawaii. Most butterflies eat nectar from flowers, though some eat sap, dung, and other things. This list features some of the most popular plants frequented by butterflies.
PhotoButterflyNectar PlantsHost Plants

Photo: Ken Thomas
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)aster, milkweed, marigold, and verbenacudweed

Photo: Ken Walker, Museum Victoria
Banana Skipper (Erionota thrax) na flower nectarbanana

Photo: Stephen Patrick
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)impatiens, verbena, aster, and cosmoscabbage and nasturium

Photo: Kenpei
Chinese Swallowtail (Papilio xuthus) flower nectarcitrus

Photo: Calibas
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) aster, verbena, and milkweedBermuda and St. Augustine grass

Photo: Calibas
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)impatiens, marigold, and verbenapassionvine (Lilikoi)

Photo: Caleb Slemmons
Hawaiian Blue aka Blackburn's Blue (Udara blackburni)koa and a'ali'I leaves and koa flower nectarkoa and a'ali'i

Photo: US Fish and Wildlife
Kamehameha Lady (Vanessa tameamea)sap of koa treesmamaki

Photo: Anne Toal
Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon bazochii)flower nectarlantana

Photo: Anne Toal
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)lantana, bougainvilla, and hibiscusopiuma

Photo: John Amend
Lesser Grass-Blue (Zizina otis)flower nectarsensitive plant

Photo: Alpsdake
Long-Tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus)flower nectarrattlepod

Photo: Brian Wood
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)tropical milkweedcrownflower

Photo: Kabir Bakie
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)aster, butterfly bush, milkweed, verbena, and zinniacocklebur

Photo: Luc Viatour
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)aster, butterfly bush, and milkweedmamaki

Photo: Cory Campora
Red- Spotted Hairstreak (Tmolus echion)flower nectarlantana and tropical plants in the verbena, mint, and potato families

Photo: Forest & Kim Starr
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)flower nectarpickleweed and pigweed

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