En EspaŅol

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?


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
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
2 ratings

Friday - July 03, 2009

From: Brighton, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Attracting butterflies in Tennessee
Answered by: Janice Kvale


What flowers and plants do the caterpillars in Tennessee eat? And do you know what butterflies live in Tipton Co. Tennessee?


Those are definitely connected questions; certain plants may attract specific butterflies. The Phyciodes Phaon (Phaon Crescent) is specifically identified for your county and appears across the southern United States. A few of the plants or trees in your area that attract butterflies include Acer rubrum (red maple), Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Asimina triloba (pawpaw), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), Carya alba (mockernut hickory), Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea), Cornus florida (flowering dogwood), Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed), Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern).

There are many, many more and here is how you may locate which plants attract which butterflies and moths. On the Wildflower website, click on Explore Plants, then Plant Database, and then Recommended Species. This takes you to the 121 species of plants of all types recommended for Tennessee. One by one you click on the plant name, scroll down to the section on Benefits, and you will find which butterflies or moths frequent this plant species, if any. Alternately, cross referenced through Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) on the Recommended Species page, there is a section under Special Collections just for butterflies and moths. You can reverse your search by clicking on the plant and look for TN (Tennessee) under the distribution of that insect species.

If you are interested in gardening to attract butterflies, you may want to read how to do this in the How To section of the Wildflower website and a butterfly bibliography. A great resource for you is the butterfly section of Birds and Blooms Magazine. Another site (Discover Life) will help you identify different species of butterflies that you may see in your garden. Avian Pursuits lists butterflies NOT seen in Tipton County, Tennessee. If this is a recent interest or hobby for you, you have picked one that will provide you a lifetime of pleasure.


Acer rubrum

Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias incarnata

Asimina triloba


Asclepias tuberosa

Callicarpa americana

Carpinus caroliniana

Ceanothus americanus

Conoclinium coelestinum

Coreopsis lanceolata

Comptonia peregrina

Coreopsis tinctoria

More Wildflowers Questions

Transplanting seedlings washed out of area by rain
February 17, 2007 - I sowed a rather large area in my wild back yard in wildflowers. There is no grass. A few weeks later after we had been watering them because of no rain (in Sept), we got way too much rain and many o...
view the full question and answer

October wildflower bouquets for South Carolina wedding
August 25, 2008 - I live in Marietta, Georgia and my daughter is getting married in Pendleton, South Carolina (near Clemson,SC) October 11th. I am in charge of getting 10 wildflower bouquets for the bridesmaids !!! C...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing hayfield with wildflowers in Brenham TX
September 20, 2010 - I have property near Brenham, TX that produces wild bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers each year. I would like to fertilize the pastures to help with hay production (the grass is ha...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas wildflowers indoors for a March wedding from Austin
October 01, 2013 - I have learned so much from this site! Thank you! I am getting Married this March and I am hoping to use Texas wildflowers for the centerpieces. I hope to grow them in containers indoors and have the ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Gregg's mistflower in Belton, TX
May 02, 2010 - I would like to know how to plant seeds from Gregg's mistflowers. Can the seeds be planted in the spring, and if so, do they need to be prepared first (soaked overnight, etc)?
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center