Gardening For Butterflies

Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden – by Dale Clark of Butterflies Unlimited

With over 170 species of butterflies recorded in the metroplex, butterfly gardening can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.  When butterfly gardening it is important to offer both nectar plants for the adult butterflies to feed on themselves, as well as host plants on which they can deposit their eggs, which is usually a narrow range of plants for each species.  For more extensive butterfly gardening information and to learn more about our local butterflies go to

Nectar Plants:


 Asters (Aster sp.), Cosmos (Cosmos sp,), Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), Mexican Flamevine (Senecio confusus), pentas (tall pink and or red variety; stay away from dwarf cultivars), Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis), Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), zinnias (single bloom or semi-double bloom varieties — stay away from completely double bloom varieties).


Frogfruit (Phyla sp.), Goldenrod (Solidago sp.), Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii), lantana (virtually all varieties are excellent), Purple coneflower (Echinacea sp.), salvias (Salvia sp.), Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata), 

Trees and Shrubs:

 Abelia,, butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis),  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus),  Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana), Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana), Redbud (Cercis sp.).

 Host plants for some common butterflies:

 Monarch: Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

Queen: Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

Eastern Black Swallowtail: Dill, fennel, parsley, carrot

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail: Texas Ash, White Ash, Hop Ash, Black Cherry

Giant Swallowtail: Prickly Ash/Toothache Tree, Hop Ash, Citrus sp.

Gulf Fritillary: Blue Crown Passionvine (Passiflora caerulea),  Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), “Incense” Passionvine (Passiflora “incense”).

Question Mark: Hackberry, elm, false nettle.

Painted Lady: Hollyhocks, thistles.

Cloudless Sulphur: Candlestick tree (Cassia alata), Argentine Senna (Senna corymbosa).

Rotten Fruit:  Several species of butterflies in our area are attracted to the fermenting juices of rotting fruit.  Place a small tray of fruit  (banana, peach, plum, mango, etc.) in dappled light, with the fruit sliced open so the butterflies can get to the  juicy parts.  Species you are likely to see are: Hackberry and Tawny Emperors, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Goatweed Leafwing, Viceroy, Red-spotted Purple, Mourning Cloak).