Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Shrubs Questions

Plants that will grow on the Connecticut coast
June 08, 2010 - I live on the coast in Connecticut and have a hard time growing plants here. I live about 1/2 mile from the beach and find that my soil is very rocky. The only plants that have done well in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant shade shrubs for Lago Vista, TX.
June 24, 2010 - I purchased a home in Lago Vista, Tx. It has a very shady front yard. I want to plant some blooming shrubs that THE DEER WON'T EAT! I would prefer native plants for the area. What should I look f...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs to hide neighborhood area in Philadelphia
April 04, 2010 - I live on a lane in Philadelphia, PA. Across the street from my home is a small hill with trees and beyond that is a driveway and homes. The neighbors that live in the homes dump their tree cuttings, ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs or small trees for privacy in Cumming GA
May 11, 2010 - I have a eight foot fence in my back yard. My back yard is full of trees and is very shady in the late spring and summer months and in the winter when the leaves fall is very bare. I am looking for...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX shade
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin, TX. I'm looking for a 4 season shrub for a partially shaded area that gets about 3 hours of sun towards the evening. It's mostly partially shaded.
view the full question and answer

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