Host Plants

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Each butterfly species uses only one or a handful of specific plant species as a host plant. For example, Monarchs will only lay eggs on milkweed plants, and Monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweed. If they run out of milkweed they will die, they will not eat anything else. Zebra Swallowtails will only use PawPaw as a host plant. etc.

It isn't practical for most people to provide host plants for every species that lives in their area. Where I live, for example, there are roughly 80 different species of butterflies. I couldn't possibly provide plants for all of them, with the yard size we have. A big reason is because some butterflies use trees as host plants, and we don't have room to grow more trees.

It is possible to grow plants for many different species though. For example, I have host plants for around 20 different species of butterflies in my garden and hope to add more in the future.

The plants included in this section are mostly ones that I have growing in my yard, or grew at one time, or they are growing someplace nearby. They are divided up into groups based on their size/shape. Please keep in mind that these size/type divisions are only a rough estimate. The amount of light, water, soil conditions, etc. can affect how big some of these plants get. In many cases it's also a matter of opinion whether a plant is small or large, or a small tree or a large bush. Please check the individual pages for each plant to get a better idea of its size and shape.


Pipevine - Aristolochia tomentosa

Passion Vine - Passiflora incarnata

Hops - Humulus Lupulus

Really Short Flowering Plants

Pussy Toes - Antennaria

Wild Violet - Viola sororia

Bird's Foot Violet - Viola pedata

White Clover - Trifolium repens

Relatively Short Flowering Plants

Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare

Malva - Malva sylvestris

Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa

Purple Milkweed - Asclepias purpurascens

Whorled Milkweed - Asclepias verticillata

Borage - Borago officinalis

Parsley - Petroselinum crispum

Purple Prairie Clover - Dalea purpurea

Rue - Ruta graveolens

Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus

False Nettle - Boehmeria cylindrica

Taller Flowering Plants

New England Aster - Aster novae-angliae

Hollyhock - Alcea rosea

Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata

Tropical Milkweed - Asclepias curassavica

Wild Senna - Senna marylandica

Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica

Really Tall Flowering Plants

Sunflower - Helianthus annuus


Hop Tree/Wafer Ash - Ptelea trifoliata

Lead Plant - Amorpha canescens

Partridge Pea - Chamaecrista/Cassia fasciculata

Prickly Ash - Zanthoxylum americanum

Sandbar Willow - Salix exigua

Sassafras - Sassafras albidum

Spicebush - Lindera benzoin

Pussy Willow - Salix discolor


Pawpaw - Asimina triloba

Black Willow - Salix nigra

Tuliptree/Yellow-poplar - Liriodendron tulipifera

Hackberry - Celtis Occidentalis

Sweet Bay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana


(coming soon!)

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