Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
3 ratings

Thursday - October 18, 2007

From: College Station, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native plants to attract butterflies
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm a Texas A&M Wildlife and Ecology student working with a landowner in Bastrop County, Texas. As part of their Habitat Management Plan, they are hoping to enhance butterfly habitat on their property. We're hoping to open up a few clearings on the heavily forested property (hardwoods) and introduce some native plants to attract butterflies. As such, I'm looking for plants of all levels of sun that tolerate dry conditions on a sandy loam. Any recommendations?

ANSWER:

You will want to find plants that are good nectar sources for adults and ones that are caterpillar food. The Cockrell Butterfly Center Guide to Butterfly Gardening in Houston has a list of nectar plants, some of them native and some not. Many of these serve as larval food for caterpillars as well. Of the native ones, here are some that are found in Bastrop County, Texas and should do well in the habitat you describe:

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain)

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (aromatic aster)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage)

Solidago altissima (late goldenrod)

Liatris mucronata (cusp blazing star) and other Liatris species.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

For larval food plants there are several source lists:

Caterpillar Food Plants for Central Texas from Mike Quinn at Texas Parks & Wildlife, Gardening for Butterflies from the Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas of the North American Butterfly Asscociation (BEST-NABA) and Native Host Plants for Southeast Texas Butterflies from the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

From these lists here are some suggested plants for Bastrop County:

Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel)

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Phacelia congesta (bluecurls)

Passiflora lutea (yellow passionflower)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower)

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood)

Most of these plants are readily available commercially. You can search for nurseries and seed companies in your area that specialize in native plants by visiting our National Suppliers Directory.

 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Hungry turtles trample pond in Houston Texas
October 17, 2011 - I have a very large back yard pond (actually, a former swimming pool) that's home to a bullfrog, four Red-eared slider turtles, and scads of gambusia (little mosquito eating fish). I'd like to add n...
view the full question and answer

Color year round, welcome to Austin Texas.
December 04, 2011 - I am new to Austin and want to plant colorful flowers for fall and winter that get a "wow" reaction. I have not seen much at the local nurseries. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
view the full question and answer

Colony of bees nesting in sycamore
July 06, 2010 - I have a very large, old sycamore tree that has recently become home to a colony of honey bees. They have taken up dwelling in a hollow limb of the tree about 25 feet off the ground. While this is gre...
view the full question and answer

Birds attracted to wax myrtles in Austin
January 12, 2010 - Hello! We are considering planting Wax Myrtles in our relatively small SW Austin backyard. I'm excited about its ability to create quick privacy, but I was wondering specifically, what types of bird...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower meadow for Arkansas
September 16, 2007 - We want to create a 1/2-1 acre wildflower style "meadow" using native plants that we can naturalize. I found information for our area (Central Arkansas) on this website that is helpful, but I am als...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.