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

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Sunday - June 28, 2009

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Butterfly plants for Washington DC area
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am a teacher working with very young students to establish a wildlife garden. We received a donated butterfly bush of a smallish cultivar, but wondering if there is a native shrub not too large for our corner garden that would also attract butterflies, etc. What are native alternatives to butterfly bushes?

ANSWER:

On our Recommended Species page you will find under "Special Collections" a  list titled Butterflies and Moths of North America containing native plants that are valuable to moths and butterflies.  Once you have opened that database with more than 350 species of native plants, you can limit the list to your area by using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choosing either Maryland or Virginia.  This will give you a list of more than 180 native plant species for butterflies that grow in those states.  You can also use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to select for what type of plant you want (e.g., Shrub, Herb, Fern, etc.) and to choose plants that will work with the amount of sunlight and soil moisture your site has.

Here are a few suggestions from that list using Maryland as the state choice.  There are many more choices of plants for you to see.

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)


Amorpha fruticosa

Asclepias tuberosa

Ceanothus americanus

Lonicera sempervirens

Lupinus perennis

Rudbeckia hirta

Spiraea tomentosa

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

 

 

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