Butterfly Host Plants
Our 'Plant Index' page lists all the plants we expect to have available for the 2019 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'.
perennials from May through October.
Butterfly Host Plants Available For May Shipping:
of our perennials are shipped in 3" to 4" pots.
A few might 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. $8.00 each
Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies seek out turtlehead (above) for egg laying. But half-grown Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars often seek out Penstemon as a food source. Beardtongue grows 30" - 36" high and produces white to light pink flower spikes in June and July. Full sun or part shade. Deer resistant.
Perennial, zones 3-9. $7.00 each
Read our article on Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies.
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
Flower (also known as Sneezeweed)
(Helenium autumnale 'Mariachi Ranchera')
Helen's Flower (Sneezeweed) grows 30"-36" high and produces small, daisy like flowers mid July thru August. Helenium 'Mariachi Ranchera', the species offered here, bears beautiful red flowers which fade to rusty orange. Deer resistant and drought tolerant.
Utilized as a host plant by the Dainty Sulphur butterfly.
Perennial, zones 4-9. $8.00 each Probably Sold Out. Please check back around late May.
is a reseeding annual with delicate, fern-like foliage. It grows
18"-24" high. As an herb, it is used in breads, sauces, dips,
spreads, and more. Herb gardeners harvest both the leaves (dill weed) and
the seeds (dill seed).
Flat Leaf Parsley,
the same one grown for culinary use, is also a host plant for the
Black Swallowtail. It grows
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 albus rubra)
A favorite at our 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-like scent. These plants are small and will not likely bloom until 2019. Deer resistant.
As discovered by Rose many years ago, a host plant for Giant Swallowtail butterflies.
Perennial, zones 3-8. $8.00 each Might be available late May to mid June. Please check back then.
|'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. Very cold-hardy but needs good drainage to survive the winter.
Utilized as a host plant by American Lady butterflies.
Perennial, zones 5-8. $7.00 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 (below).
Perennial, zones 3-9. $7.00 each Should be available by early June.
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. $8.00 each
False nettle grows 24"-36" high and produces tiny white flowers August thru September. Native to most of the U.S., this member of the nettle family lacks stinging hairs.
Host plant for Question Mark (pictured above), Comma, and Red Admiral (pictured right) butterflies.
Perennial, zones 4-8. $7.00 each Should be available by early June.
Hops is a vigorous perennial vine which grows 15' - 20' 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 (vine)
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 10' - 20' long, Purple Passion Flower produces exotic-looking 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 Variegated Fritillary (pictured right) and Gulf Fritillary (pictured above in title bar).
Photo by Josh Hillman.
Perennial, zones 5-8. $8.00 each
Spicebush grows 8' - 12' high and is native to most of the eastern U.S. Spicebushes are dioecious, meaning each shrub is either male or female. Spicebush produces tiny yellow flowers in early spring and the females produce tiny red berries in fall. Our Spicebushes are small, about 12" high, so we don't know which are male and which are female. Spicebush Swallowtails don't care though, whether the bush is male or female. They will lay they eggs on either.
Host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail.
Perennial, zones 4-8. $7.00 each Might be available in June. Please check back then.
Milkweed, the host plant
for Monarch caterpillars, is available
driving distance of central Pennsylvania?
On Behalf of the Butterflies by Rose Franklin
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 Variegated
Fritillary and 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|
|48" high shrub (2 gallon pot)||Spicebush Swallowtail||$30.00 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||Stinging Nettle, Hops, False Nettle, Elm, Hackberry|
|Comma (Hop Merchant)||Stinging Nettle, Hops. False Nettle, Elm, Hackberry|
|Red Admiral||Stinging Nettle, False Nettle|
|Milbert's Tortoiseshell||Stinging 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 © 2002-2019. [Rose Franklin's Perennials]. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 14, 2019