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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

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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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!

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Saturday - September 13, 2014

From: Chicago, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Butterfly Plants for Chicago
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live near Chicago, IL and am interested in planting a butterfly garden. Not sure when to start, but I want all native plants that would attract butterflies. Can you please let me know which plants to buy and when will be the best time to buy them?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants for your new butterfly garden is our list of 353 native plants that are hosts for butterflies and moths of North America.

From here, select those that are native to Illinois by selecting your state from the “narrow your search” section on the left side of the page. This will select 185 that are native to Illinois.  You can further refine the list by selecting specifics like your sun exposure, soil moisture level, blooming time and color, etc.

Early fall (while the soil is still warm) or late spring (after the soil has dried out a bit) are two of the best times to plant your butterfly garden plants.

If you would like to see a butterfly garden created with native plants, visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. They have a Native Plant Garden that has a specific section that is a habitat garden designed to appeal to birds and butterflies.  The garden is an official demonstration site for Chicago Wilderness.

Also, there are five native plant suppliers listed for Illinois on our website. Scroll down and take a look at them when you have your plant list created.  

Good luck with your new butterfly-attracting garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Bride's feathers
Aruncus dioicus

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Flowering dogwood
Cornus florida

Showy tick trefoil
Desmodium canadense

Thinleaf sunflower
Helianthus decapetalus

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Northern red oak
Quercus rubra

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