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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for attracting butterflies in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 butterflies use as hosts, but I don't recognize their names and don't know where I would find these plants in the wild. There are many butterflies that all look the same fluttering around the leaves of one of our front-yard trees. We think the tree is a Ligustrum. But we don't know where these butterflies are laying their eggs. Can anyone help? Here is the relevant text from the article: "Host plants where butterflies can feed and lay their eggs also are crucial to a successful backyard butterfly garden. Having a diverse collection of such plants is also important because certain plants are hosts to certain types of butterflies. Most notable is the monarch, whose caterpillars feed on milkweeds. Other larval plant-butterfly pairings include but are not limited to passion vine (Passiflora spp.): Gulf fritillary; flame acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii): Janais Patch; oak (Quercus spp.): hairstreaks; nettles (Urtica spp.): red admiral; senna and partridge pea: cloudless sulphur; sunflower (Helianthus spp.): bordered patch; and California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum): Acmon blue. Some host plants also are good nectar plants, which makes them doubly useful." Thank you.

ANSWER:

Our first suggestion is that you go to the Master List of of native species in the Ann and O.J. Weber Butterfly Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Since they are growing in our gardens and the Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively, these plants should all be available in gardens or in the wild in the Austin area.

For instance, the first plant on this list is Acalypha radians (Cardinal's feather). Follow the plant link to each plant for a description of that plant and pictures. Some of the plant webpages will list the butterflies that visit that particular plant and pictures; for instance, Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush) has pictures of the moths that visit that plant. Beneath each picture is a link to BAMONA (Butterflies and Moths of North America) which will give you more information about that particular moth or butterfly. You can also follow the BAMONA link to a listing of butterflies and moths with their preferred plants and area where they grow.

Your son and his classmates will probably have more luck finding the larvae, or caterpillars, that have hatched from the eggs than the eggs themselves.

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

Where to find Horseherb seed
August 02, 2015 - I would like to purchase some Horseherb seeds. Can you tell me where I can do that? Either locally or on line. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for underneath oak tree
October 10, 2012 - I have a North facing wall of my house that gets half sunlight half shade depending on the season. I would like to layout some native South Texas plants and complete fill in area to prevent the live o...
view the full question and answer

Correct cultural conditions for liatris
April 15, 2008 - I recently bought some gayfeather (liatris pycnostachya) and planted in my yard in a nice full sun spot. Gets sun for roughly 10 hours a day. However, it's also the single driest spot in my yard (jus...
view the full question and answer

Tall perennials for a sunny North Carolina border
March 26, 2012 - I need border plants for in front of a picket fence along front sidewalk. Space is only approx 1'6" wide and widening is not an option. So far I have daylilies, cannas, Mexican petunias, daisies, i...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center