Grow This Colorful Plant Near Your Petunias To Attract Beautiful Butterflies

Grow This Colorful Plant Near Your Petunias To Attract Beautiful Butterflies

Petunias (Petunia spp.) is a wonderful addition to any flower bed. They offer a long period of blooms with a variety of color options and require little maintenance. However, these plants benefit from having a strong pollinator attractor nearby to maximize their blooms. The perfect choice for these plants is Lantana (Lantana camara), an easy-to-care-for plant that produces its stunning blooms that can last for several weeks with proper care and the right environment. Lantana plants are also an excellent way to attract butterflies to your garden.

Petunias are one of the most common types of flowering annuals that gardeners purchase due to the versatility of their colors and ongoing blooms. Some varieties will bloom in the early spring and continue to thrive until the first frost. They also have a pleasant fragrance, making them an excellent choice for a beautiful display in your garden or in containers near your home. Some varieties even spread and grow quickly with the help of pollinators. Although they require adequate sunlight throughout the growing season, they are easy to grow once they are in the right environment.

There are more than 150 species of Lantana, most of which share common attributes, including their long flowering period. Lantanas are easily grown in containers or in the garden itself and are a showy option that is perfect for attracting butterflies, as well as other pollinators, to your space.

The benefits of growing petunias and lantanas near each other

Butterfly on lantana flowers


Petunias and lantana plants need similar environments to thrive and flourish with long blooming seasons. That starts with a sunny location. For the best results, plant them in full sun. Both can be planted in spring after the final frost of the year, with both preferring warm conditions to grow. As the weather warms in the spring, the number of blooms is likely to increase if the soil is kept moist but well-draining.

As companion plants, they also need the same basic soil conditions. Neither is too picky about the soil, but organic fertilizing is always beneficial to these plants. Lantana will thrive better when placed in slightly acidic soil, which can be supported by supplementing the current soil with a bit of acidic fertilizer.

One of the best reasons to plant these two together is that they will draw in pollinators, including butterflies. The bright colors and scents of these flowers help to draw in butterflies, and since they are likely to flourish throughout the season, you can expect them to attract throughout the year. Lantana is an excellent nectar source for butterflies. It can also be a host plant for caterpillars, which can be a fantastic way to watch butterflies develop over time. Lantana will attract a variety of butterflies, including monarchs, depending on where you live. Butterflies, in turn, are fantastic at helping to support petunia flowering.

How to encourage butterflies and flowers in your garden

Butterfly with lantana flowers

Danita Delimont/Shutterstock

Once you pick the specific varieties of petunias and lantanas you hope to grow, it’s time to plant them in a way that encourages each plant to support the other. You can plant lantana in the late fall months, but both plants can go into your garden or containers in the spring after the final frost as well. Lantana typically needs about 4 feet of room to spread upwards and outward, creating a boxy-like shape. They work well as a low hedge that can border your flower garden within the bed. Be sure to water both plants well after first planting and keep the soil moist, but avoid pooling water to encourage the root system to grow.

Petunias are smaller flowering plants but still need about 12 to 18 inches of space for the best overall growth. Plant these near the lantana but in the direct sun — you don’t want the height of the lantana to shadow the petunias.

As the plants start to establish and flower, it’s a good idea to fertilize with an organic or balanced fertilizer. Water frequently. You can pinch the branches of petunias to encourage the plant to spread. You also need to consider deadheading larger plants to help them to continue blooming. Once in place, you’ll likely see butterflies arrive as the blooms start to open. Pay close attention to caterpillars and other insects like bees in the area, too.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.