Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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

 

 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Native annuals for pollinators in King County, Washington
February 06, 2014 - I live in King County, Washington State, and I have a plot in a community garden. Rather than plant food, I'd like to attract pollinators. I need to use native annuals rather than perennials as the c...
view the full question and answer

Dutchman's pipe vine dying in Fitchburg ME
August 15, 2012 - I have 2 dutchmans pipe vines they have been growing for over 20 years. Now all of a sudden the foliage is wilting and dying. The other one is completely fine. What would cause this?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping from Wilmington NC
December 22, 2012 - I plan on moving to Belmont NC in the next couple of years and settling down with my future wife in her home town. I am a huge do it yourself person. I love to make things from scratch, including buil...
view the full question and answer

Fall seeding of Butterfly Weed in Virginia
July 20, 2007 - Just ordered seeds from you - Butterfly Weed - and I plan to hopefully scatter the seeds early Oct. in an area along a tree line here in No. VA where the sun bakes the soil as it is exposed to hot wes...
view the full question and answer

Making a pollinator garden
August 11, 2014 - Hello, I have a ditch right by my house and I want to turn it into a pollinator garden using native plants. My problem is, right now it's so full of weeds that we have to mow those down so soon. For ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.