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
1 rating

Friday - September 09, 2005

From: Marion, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Butterfly/hummingbird garden in Texas
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am coordinating a butterfly/hummingbird garden on 100 acres that our religious organization has. We want to use native Texas plants as much as possible. Are these two types of gardens compatible and what plants are a good start? The garden would be located in Fayette county.

ANSWER:

Butterfly and hummingbird gardens are absolutely compatible. Both types of creature are nectar sippers, so you want to include flowering plants that provide plenty of sweet nectar for both the birds' and the insects' needs.

Some nectar-producing native Texas plants of which hummingbirds are particularly fond are Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii; Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens; Wild Bergamot, Monarda citriodora; Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea; Texas Betony, Stachys coccinea; Standing Cypress, Ipomopsis rubra; and Texas Lantana, Lantana urticoides.

Butterflies have slightly different needs. Adult butterflies will often feed on any nectar-producing flowers they can find. For the most part, they're pretty indiscriminate about the flowers they feed on. However, some are much more fond of certain flowers than others.

As careless as most adult butterflies are about feeding, they're very careful about where they lay their eggs! Most butterflies will lay eggs only on plants of specific families or even specific genera. For example, Monarch butterflies are famous for feeding on milkweed plants as caterpillars. The species of milkweed isn't so important (and there are many species), but they feed exclusively on that family. Likewise, Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing butterflies lay their eggs only on plants of the Passionvine genus, Passiflora. And on it goes. Nearly all butterflies are very picky about where their young are going to dine.

You will find the USGS website Butterflies of Fayette County, Texas a very useful resource. Not only does it list all of the species of butterflies known to frequent your county, but it also provides pictures and a wealth of information about each species' life history. On our own Native Plant Information Network (NPIN) website you can find articles on Butterfly Gardening Resources, Creating a Wildlife Garden and a Wildlife Gardening Bibliography.

You can also find flowers to attract butterflies by searching in the Native Plants Database on our web page. For instance, if you select Combination Search from the options, and then select "Yellow" from Bloom Color under Bloom Characteristics, "Herb" under Growth Form and "Texas" under Select State you will get a list of yellow wildflowers (most with pictures) that are native to Texas. Using the criteria for flower shape that attracts butterflies, you can choose flowers from the list and learn more about them. At the top of page for each plant there is a menu. By choosing "Benefits" from the menu, you will be able to see if the flower attracts butterflies.
 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
July 30, 2012 - I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with...
view the full question and answer

Will recycled tire mulch harm butterfly larvae?
December 05, 2012 - I discovered orange butterfly larva in the hardwood mulch under my Turk's Cap. Will it harm the larva if I switch over to recycled tire mulch?
view the full question and answer

Yellow butterfly in Tennessee
August 19, 2009 - I live in Crossville Tenn and am seeing a butterfly that is yellow with a long hanging. What is it and what is it doing?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

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