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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - September 09, 2014

From: Hitchcock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Wildlife Gardens
Title: Plants for hummingbirds and butterflies in Galveston County TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am looking for native plants for a butterfly and hummingbird garden. I plan on putting the hummingbird garden in part shade and would like some Fall blooming plants to attract them during migration. The butterfly garden is in full sun already. It gets sun from noon on since I have very limited morning sun areas on my property. Please emphasize plants that grow naturally in Galveston county.


First, Texas Parks and Wildlife has an article, Texas Hummingbird Roundup: Hummingbird Garden Tips, that has information about what kind of plants hummingbirds are attracted to.  These are:

  • With trumpet-shaped blooms
  • Long-necked flowers
  • Good nectar producers
  • Brightly colored, usually red
  • Long blooming

Next, the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) has a pdf publication called Native Plant Guide with a variety of very useful information.  No. 9 in the guide is called "Native Plants that Provide a Food Source for Hummingbirds".  You can then use our Native Plant Database to determine which of these bloom in the fall and will do well in part shade.  Use the botanical name for your searches rather than the common name.   Here are a few from that list that will bloom in the fall and in part shade:

No. 6 in the guide is "Native Host Plants for Southeast Texas Butterflies".  These are host plants for larvae.  Adult butterflies will feed on nectar from many plants including the larval host plants and those shown above for hummingbirds.  Here are some from that list that grow in sun and are native to Galveston and Harris Counties:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) for Monarchs and Queen butterflies

Passiflora incarnata (Purple passionflower) for Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries

Cirsium texanum (Texas thistle) and Kosteletzkya virginica (Virginia saltmarsh mallow) for Painted Lady butterflies

Mimosa strigillosa (Powderpuff) and Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (Partridge pea) for Little Sulphur butterflies

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower) is attractive to many butterflies as a nectar plant.



From the Image Gallery

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Fall obedient plant
Physostegia virginiana

Turk's cap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Erythrina herbacea

Asclepias tuberosa

Passiflora incarnata

Texas thistle
Cirsium texanum

Virginia saltmarsh mallow
Kosteletzkya virginica

Mimosa strigillosa

Partridge pea
Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata

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