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 Wildflowers Questions

Mowing Bluebonnets
March 20, 2004 - When is it safe to mow Bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Should Bluebonnets Be Planted in Mulch in Spring Branch, TX
September 23, 2010 - I would like to plant bluebonnet seeds in my flower bed. The bed has a layer of shredded cedar mulch. Do I need to remove the mulch where the seeds will be planted, or will the plants grow up through ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Katy Ruellia
November 08, 2004 - What can you tell me about Katy Ruellia? I need something with color that will take the hot southeast Texas summers and the cold/wet winters that stays decent and will flower.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seed balls
November 13, 2007 - On one of the HGTV garden shows Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was featured. It showed how you could make little dirt balls filled with wild flower seeds and throw them around your land making i...
view the full question and answer

Pink wildflowers on DFW runways in April-June
October 10, 2013 - I fly thru DFW quite often and have noticed in April-June timeframe the runways are dotted with a light pink colored wildflower. Have asked the DFW Customer Service folks for the name, ones I've ask...
view the full question and answer

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