Gardening for Butterflies
Sight location for butterfly gardens: The majority plants in a butterfly garden require a sunny location to thrive. These plants also require deep, rich, organic soils (compost) to grow to their full potential. We recommend raised beds. Plants should be planted en masse to attract adult butterflies. Establishing windbreaks in exposed gardens is necessary. *Warning: butterfly gardens will attract bees, wasps, hummingbirds, moths and other forms of wildlife. This is a good thing.
Water source: Adult butterflies “puddle” … they drink from mud! Not only does this provide water but the mud provides needed minerals.
Shelter: Texas gets hot and adult butterflies like shade. Shrubs, trees, grasses, garden benches and other garden structures provide a cool place to hide & pupate!
Garden Maintenance: Organic is best! Using ANY pesticide is strongly discouraged! Spray insect infections with water or remove infected plants. Fire ants can be treated with boiling water (carefully!) or diluted orange oil.
Host Plant Highlights – Host plants provide caterpillars with a food source. Specific caterpillars require certain plants:
Pipevine Swallowtail: Wooly & Veined Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa & A. fimbriata) Note: some commercially available pipevines are toxic to our native Swallowtails.
Eastern Black Swallowtail: Dill, Fennel & Parsley
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail: Ash trees, Apple trees & Plum trees
Eastern Giant Swallowtail: Hercules’s Club, Rue, Citrus trees like lemons & oranges
Gulf Fritillary, Julias & Zebra Longwings: Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), Blue Passionvine (p. caerulea), ‘Incense’ Passionvine.
Theona Checkerspot: Texas Sage
Bordered Patch: Ragweed, Boneset, Maximilian Sunflower, Frostweed
Question Mark: Cedar Elm, Hackberry
Painted Lady: many native thistles (weeds are a good thing!) Sunflower, Borage, Globe Mallow
Viceroy: Willow trees, Cottonwood trees, Black Cherry
Ruddy Daggerwing: Fig trees
Monarchs, Queens, Soldiers: Tropical Milkweed and others. Note: Tropical Milkweed should be cut down late September.
More butterfly specific host plants can be found at www.dallasbutterflies.com
Nectar Plant Highlights - Nectar plants provide adult butterflies with a food source. Specific adults may be attracted to certain flowers but many flowers are enjoyed by multiple species:
Milkweed (all of them!)
Gregg’s Blue Mistflowers & Fragrant Mistflower
Purple Coneflower varieties
Lantana (all of them!)
Salvia (all of them!)
Pincushion Flower / Scabiosa
Mexican Sunflower / Tithonia
Zinnia (all of them!)
Mexican Flame Vine
Duranta / Golden Dewdrop
Mexican Plum Tree
*Buddleia / Butterfly Bush has been omitted