Butterfly host plants

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Are you looking to build a butterfly garden? If so, you need to understand the entire life cycle of the butterflies. Everyone talks about the importance of nectar plants, but are you familiar with host plants?


Whenever you see butterflies visiting your garden, they are looking for nectar and hosts plants. Hosts plants are vital to the success of any butterfly garden. Hosts plants are where butterflies lay their eggs, and they are the only source of food for the caterpillars. Think about that for a second. The butterfly travels around and gathers nectar but will only lay her eggs in a spot that sets her offspring up for success! Since caterpillars are such small and picky eaters, this is an important step. No host plants then you will not see as many butterflies.


Different varieties of butterflies have different host plants. Planting these host plants is a way to help the butterfly population. Disclaimer, the caterpillars, will eat everything on the host plants. For people unfamiliar with the process they might think they have a pest problem. Don’t be alarmed! You will be rewarded with butterflies, and help their population. So if you don’t like the look eaten plants, maybe plant the host plants in a separate bed behind taller plants to hide them.


Here’s a list of plants and the butterflies they host.


Black swallowtail

  •   Dill – Bouquet

  •   Bronze fennel

  • Italian giant parsley

  • Rue  

Pipeline swallowtail

  •  Calico pipevine

  • Brazilian pipevine

  • Southwest pipevine

Monarch & Queen

  • Tropical milkweed

  • Swamp milkweed

  • Common milkweed

  • Aquatic milkweed

  • Green milkweed

Giant Swallowtail

  • Satsuma- Owari

  • Satsuma- Miho

  • Grapefruit-Rio Red

  • Navel- Cara Cara


Texas Crescent

  • White shrimp plant

  • Red shrimp plant

  • Firecracker plant

Grey Hairstreak

  • Texas persimmon


  • Frog fruit

Palamedes Swallowtail

  •   Red Bay


  •   Little bluestem

Henry’s Elfin

  •   Mexican buckeye


  •   Flowery Senna

  •   Partridge Pea

  •   Candlestick Cassia




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