Butterfly Host Plants
Our 'Plant Index' page lists all the plants we expect to have available for the 2015 shipping season.
|During the shipping season (May thru October), our Facebook fans will receive notification of special promotions being offered on our web site. They will also be periodically posted on which plants are especially nice at that particular time (making these plants a better buy at that particular time).|
| To significantly
increase the butterfly population in your butterfly garden, you should
provide food for baby butterflies (caterpillars). For each species in the butterfly kingdom, its larva
(caterpillar) can only feed on specific plant species. These specific plant
species are referred to as butterfly host plants or caterpillar host plants
or butterfly larval
plants. One larva's
staple is another one's poison.
Before leaving the page, please scroll down and read 'On Behalf of the Butterflies', an article I wrote last spring.
perennials from May through October.
Butterfly Host Plants Available For 2015 Shipping:
of our perennials are shipped in 3" to 4" pots.
A few may be shipped bare root. Orders are shipped via USPS Priority Mail.
Unless otherwise stated, the plants shown on this page prefers full sun.
Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii 'Hot
Turtlehead grows 24"-30" high and produces spikes of bright pink flowers over dark green foliage. It prefers a moist soil and blooms August through September. Full sun or part shade. Deer resistant.
Host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.
Perennial, zones 4-9. $7.00 each
| 'Husker Red' Penstemon
(Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red')
Baltimore checkerspot butterflies seek out turtlehead (above) for egg laying. But half-grown Baltimore checkerspot caterpillars often seek out Penstemon as a food source. 'Husker Red' Penstemon has dark foliage and white to light pink flower spikes in June and July. It grows 30"-36" high. Full sun or part shade. Deer resistant.
Perennial, zones 3-9. $6.00 each
More Penstemons (the pink- and red-flowering ones) on the 'Hummingbird Plants' page.
Read our article on Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies.
(Alcea rosea ficifolia 'Pictorale')
Of all the old-fashioned cottage garden flowers, Hollyhock tends to be the favorite. The stately flower stalks of 'Pastorale' Hollyhock often grow 5' high and provide a charming vertical accent to the garden. Hollyhocks usually bloom June thru August. While Hollyhocks are biennial, self-sown seedlings should insure a continuing supply of plants without any effort on the gardener's part. 'Pastorale' includes a splendid mixture of pastel flower colors. Sorry, no choice of flower color. Deer resistant.
Biennial which usually reseeds. May be available in June. Please check back.
Flower (also known as Sneezeweed)
Helen's Flower (Sneezeweed) grows 24"-36" high and produces small, daisy like flowers July thru August. Helenium autumnale, the species we offer here, bears yellow, orange, or mahogany-red flowers. Deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Utilized as a host plant by the Dainty Sulphur butterfly.
Perennial, zones 4-9. $7.00 each
Rue is a beautiful garden
plant, with lacy blue-green leaves and many small but showy bright yellow
flowers from June through August. Known as herb o' grace, because its
branches were once used by Catholic priests to sprinkle holy water. Rue
grows 30"-36" high. Deer resistant.
(Dictamnus fraxinella 'Rubra')
A favorite at our mail order nursery, Gas Plant grows to about 36" high and produces beautiful pink flower spikes in late spring. The leaves and flowers have a fragrant lemon scent. These plants will not likely bloom until 2014. Deer resistant.
As discovered by Rose many years ago, a host plant for Giant Swallowtail butterflies.
Perennial, zones 3-8. A limited amount should be available in June or July. Please check back.
|'Silver Brocade' Artemisia
(Artemisia stellariana 'Silver Brocade')
Looks very similar to annual dusty miller! Grows 10"-15" high and requires well drained soil. Deer resistant and drought tolerant. Needs good drainage to survive the winter.
Utilized as a host plant by American Lady butterflies.
Perennial, zones 6-8. $6.00 each
False Indigo grows 36" - 40" high and produces blue sweet pea-like blossoms. Its flower spikes rise above blue-green foliage on gray stems. Usually blooming the month of June, it produces interesting seed pods after flowering. The foliage of this bold plant is beautiful and lush from spring thru late fall. A beautiful perennial that is hard to find. Deer resistant.
Host plant for the Orange Sulphur, the Clouded Sulphur (pictured right), and the Eastern Tailed Blue.
Perennial, zones 3-9. $6.00 each
|'Carolina Moonlight' False
(Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight')
'Carolina Moonlight' False Indigo grows 36" - 40" high and produces yellow sweet pea-like blossoms. Its flower spikes rise above its foliage on sturdy stems. Usually blooming the month of June, it produces interesting seed pods after flowering. The foliage of this bold plant is beautiful and lush from spring thru late fall. A beautiful perennial that is hard to find. Deer resistant.
Host plant for the Eastern Tailed Blue (pictured right), the Orange Sulphur, and the Clouded Sulphur (pictured above).
Perennial, zones 3-9. Should be ready for shipping around mid June.
Feathers' Fox Tail Clover
(Trifolium rubens 'Red Feathers')
'Red Feathers' Trifolium grows to about 24" tall and produces small, pinkish-lavender (not bright pink as in the picture) flowers June thru August. A hard perennial to find, this plant is actually a member of the alfalfa family.
Utilized as a host plant for the Clouded Sulphur (pictured above), Eastern Tailed Blue (pictured above), and Gray Hairstreak.
Perennial, zones 5-9. $7.00 each
(Lupinus polyphyllus 'Russell Hybrids')
A favorite among early blooming perennials, Lupine blooms late May thru June. Growing 30"-36" high, the flower color may be red, pink, purple, lavender, yellow, or white. Many are bi-colored. Sorry, no choice of color. Deer resistant.
Lupine is a host plant for the Silvery Blue butterfly (pictured right).
Perennial, zones 4-9. $6.00 each
Wild Senna grows 48" 60" high and produces bright yellow flowers July thru August. A U.S. native.
Utilized as a host plant for the Clouded Sulphur (pictured above), Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange (pictured right), and Southern Dogface.
Perennial, zones 5-8. Will not likely be available for 2015.
Hops is a vigorous perennial vine which grows 15' - 30' long and produces 3" long greenish-yellow cone like flowers used in making beer. It requires a trellis or fence to grow on. Old vines can be cut back in winter as the plant produces new ones every spring.
Host plant for Question Mark (pictured right) and Comma butterflies.
Note: Some people are allergic to Hops and may develop a rash, cough, or difficulty in breathing when handling this plant.
Perennial, zones 4-8. $7.00 each
|Purple Passion Flower
Purple Passion Flower, also known as Passionvine and Maypops, is native to PA, OH, IL, IN, MO, KS, and all states laying to the south of these. Growing to 25' long, Purple Passion Flower produces 3" lavender blooms June thru August. Its seed pods (known as Maypops) develop about 3 months after flowering occurs and are about the size of chicken eggs. Passion Flower will climb up fences, arbors, and walls.
Host plant for the Gulf Fritillary.
Photo by Josh Hillman.
Perennial, zones 4-8. May be Sold Out for 2015. Please check back around mid June.
PawPaw trees grow to a height of 25' - 30'. They prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil in partly shaded locations (but will usually thrive in sunny spots too). PawPaw produces fruit which, when ripe, tastes like a blend of banana, mango, and pineapple.
Host plant for the beautiful long-tailed, black and white striped Zebra Swallowtail.
Perennial, zones 5-9. $9.00 each
known as Pipevine)
Dutchman's Pipe is a vigorous perennial vine which grows 15' - 30' long and produces yellowish brown U-shaped flowers which resemble small versions of an old-fashioned smoker's pipe. Its heart shaped leaves are up to 10" wide. Dutchman's Pipe is a woodland native and requires moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Add well-rotted manure or compost to improve drainage. Because of its weight, this vine needs a sturdy trellis to grow on. Water in periods of drought.
Host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail.
Perennial, zones 4-8. $15.00 (bare root) Available only in May.
Milkweed, the host plant
for Monarch caterpillars, is available
Over the last decade or so there has been a lot of effort put forth
to help the Monarch butterfly in its struggle to survive. Milkweed, the
host for Monarch caterpillars, has been destroyed as fields and meadows
have been converted to housing developments, shopping centers, golf
courses, and resorts. In the remaining farm fields where milkweed still
flourished, Roundup-ready corn seed is now being planted. Roundup-ready
corn seed, first introduced in 1996, will produce plants which thrive even
after numerous applications of Roundup, a very powerful herbicide. The
corn survives to produce its crop, but everything else in the field is
killed. As a result of persistent applications with Roundup, milkweed
could be forever destroyed in these fields. And without Milkweed, the
Monarch population cannot survive.
And itís not just in
the U.S. that the Monarch faces obstacles to its survival. The oyamel fir
forests of central Mexico, where billions upon billions of Monarchs
overwinter, are being ruined at an alarming rate through illegal
lumbering. Entomologists fear that if the oyamel forests disappear, so too
will the Monarch butterfly.
There are a lot of
organizations teaching people about the obstacles facing the Monarch.
Among the best known are Monarch Watch, Monarch Butterfly Fund, Monarch
Lab, and Monarch Joint Adventure. An absolutely beautiful IMAX film, ďFlight of the
ButterfliesĒ, explains in vivid 3D the magical story of the Monarch
butterfly migration. Itís no wonder millions of people know about of the
dilemma facing the Monarch.
But who knows that other butterfly species are facing the same hardships that the Monarch is? Very few. In reality, other butterflies are dwindling in number too, some just as fast, or even faster, than the Monarch. Why? Because the plants they need for their survival are being destroyed at a rapid pace too. In those same fields and meadows where milkweed used to grow, there were other native plants which other butterflies utilize as host plants.
Queen Anneís Lace,
also known as wild carrot, is the host plant for Black Swallowtail
caterpillars. Aster is the host for Pearl Crescent caterpillars while wild
violet is the host for Great-Spangled Fritillaries, Aphrodite
Fritillaries, and Meadow Fritillaries. Plantain is a host for Buckeye
caterpillars and thistle is a host for Painted Ladies. All of these
plants, too, used to be much more plentiful than they are today.
Once wild flower
meadows are converted to housing developments, golf courses, and resorts,
the newly planted turf is regularly sprayed with herbicides to kill off
everything but the grass. In the course of tidying the turf though,
butterfly host plants are being destroyed. And as is the case with the
Monarch and milkweed, other butterflies cannot survive without their host
Many butterflies lay
their eggs on the leaves of trees because it is the foliage of these trees
that their caterpillars feed on through their larval stage. Tiger
Swallowtails and Red-Spotted Purples often use black cherry as a host,
while Giant Swallowtails often utilize prickly ash. Mourning Cloaks and
Viceroys lay their eggs on willow, while Commas and Question Marks often
lay their eggs on hackberry or elm. Most of these native trees grow in
wooded areas or in mountainous regions where insecticides have been aerial
sprayed many, many times in the past 30 years or so to control the gypsy
moth population. But the same insecticides that kill gypsy moth
caterpillars also kill butterfly caterpillars. Insecticides cannot
distinguish between the two caterpillars and selectively kill just the
gypsy moths. How many butterfly larvae have fallen victim to this assault?
I do not know. Butterflies were not the intended targets of the aerial
spraying but they have certainly suffered the consequences, likely being
killed off by the millions.
organization has stepped up to campaign for the survival of butterfly
species other than the Monarch? I have seen very little in the news about
the struggle of the Tiger Swallowtail, the Giant Swallowtail, the Red
Admiral, or any other butterfly aside from the Monarch.
Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails, or Zebra Swallowtails any less beautiful
than Monarchs? No, they are not. All of the Swallowtails are gorgeous,
maybe even more beautiful than the Monarch. So why is it the case that
everyone is focusing the Monarch? It just doesnít seem fair to me.
Itís not that I
think there should be less people devoted to educating others about the
struggle of the Monarch. It is that, since most butterfly species are
struggling to survive in a world that has turned hostile toward them,
people should be concerned about the other butterfly species also. Why
campaign to save just the Monarch when other butterflies are in dire need
of help too?
I think it is wonderful that Monarch Watch and similar
organizations have studied the biology of the Monarch, monitored their
population status, and educated the public on the turmoil facing this
majestic butterfly. But I think it is time we begin to help the other
butterfly species that, in reality, are quickly dwindling in number too.
Letís do as Monarch
Watch suggests, and plant milkweed for the Monarchs. But letís also
plant dill, parsley, and fennel for Black Swallowtail caterpillars to
feast on. Letís plant rue, as this plant serves as a host for both Black
Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail larvae. Letís plant some native trees,
like black cherry, birch, hackberry, pawpaw, and elm, all of which are
utilized as butterfly hosts. And letís plant some vines that are
utilized as host plants: hops for Question Marks and Commas, Dutchmanís
Pipe for the Pipevine Swallowtail, and Passion Vine for the Gulf
|Tree/Shrub||Size||Host Plant For||Price|
|30"-36" seedling (1 gallon pot)||Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, Snout||$8.00 each|
|24"-36" seedling (1 gallon pot)||Spicebush Swallowtail||$12.00 each|
|48"-60" seedling (1 gallon pot)||Red-Spotted Purple, Viceroy, Mourning Cloak, Tiger Swallowtail||$10.00 each|
|36"-48" bush||Hummingbird Moth||$18.00 each|
We are a mail order perennial nursery.
To place an order for any of these butterfly host plants: (1) Utilize our on-line shopping cart or (2) print our online order form, fill it out, and then mail it to us, along with your check or money order. Some of the features of our online shopping cart fail to work correctly with some Internet Service Providers. If you have problems using our shopping cart, please print our order form, fill it out, and then mail it to us. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Quantities are limited on some of our nursery stock. Plants will be reserved to fill orders in the sequence in which orders are received. Please order at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment. Please do not order plants which are not currently posted with a picture, plant description, and price.
If you don't understand the meaning of 'butterfly host plants', please take the time to read our Save the Butterflies article.
|Black Swallowtail||Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Rue, Queen Anne's Lace|
|Tiger Swallowtail||Wild Cherry, Yellow Poplar, Tulip Tree|
|Spicebush Swallowtail||Spicebush, Sassafras|
|Giant Swallowtail||Citrus Trees, Prickly Ash, Gas Plant (Dictamnus)|
|Pipevine Swallowtail||Pipevine, Dutchman's Pipe|
|Zebra Swallowtail||Pawpaw (tree)|
|Question Mark||Nettle, Hops, False Nettle, Elm, Hackberry|
|Comma (Hop Merchant)||Nettle, Hops. False Nettle, Elm, Hackberry|
|Red Admiral||Stinging Nettle, False Nettle|
|Mourning Cloak||Willow, Birch, Elm, Hackberry|
|Painted Lady||Hollyhock, Pearly Everlasting, 'Silver Brocade' Artemisia|
|American Lady||Pearly Everlasting, Hollyhock, Artemisia 'Silver Brocade', Balsam|
|Common Buckeye||Plantain, Snapdragon, Heliotrope, Verbena (offered on our 'Butterfly Nectar Plants' page.)|
|Viceroy||Willow, Aspen, Poplar, Cherry|
|White Admiral||Wild Cherry, Birch, Poplar|
|Red-Spotted Purple||Wild Cherry, Poplar, Birch, Aspen|
|Baltimore Checkerspot||Turtlehead, Penstemon, Plantain|
|Orange Sulphur||Alfalfa, False Indigo|
|Clouded Sulphur||Clover, Alfalfa, False Indigo, Wild Senna|
|Sleepy Orange||Wild Senna|
|Gray Hairstreak||Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Hollyhock|
Copyright © 2002-2015. [Rose Franklin's Perennials]. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 28, 2015