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?

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
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
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

Native plants to replace non-native Pentas plant in butterfly garden
March 25, 2010 - Can you suggest a Native alternative to Pentas? a freeze killed mine and if a native plant can fill that nectar/color void in my garden I'd appreciate it. thanks for all that y'all do.
view the full question and answer

Plants for attracting butterflies in Austin
April 28, 2012 - My 9 year-old son is interested in finding butterfly eggs this Spring. His 3rd grade class is studying butterflies right now. I found a Wildflower Center article that lists several plants butterflie...
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

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

Flowers that attract Queen butterflies
August 17, 2014 - Walking into the cloud of Queen butterflies around my Gregg's Mistflowers is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, so I started wondering how I could prolong this "visitation". Can you...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center