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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 - June 23, 2015

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pollinators, Butterfly Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Butterfly and Pollinator Plants for Indianapolis Garden
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Indianapolis, IN and would like to have a native garden. I'd be especially interested in plants that help butterflies and bumble bees. There's a fairly dry area on the west side of the house and a moist area on the north side of the yard that I'm looking to plant in. What would be the best plants?

ANSWER:

A search through the Native Plant Database will give you an extensive list of plants to consider. Select Indiana, herb, perennial, sun and dry search criteria. Then select Indiana, herb, perennial, part shade, and moist. Afterward you can change the search to shrubs if you would like to include some woody plants.

Then take a look at the plants selected and note under the section "Value to Beneficial Insects" whether they say Special Value to Native Bees, Bumble Bees or Honey Bees. Also look at the Benefit section to see if there are notes that say Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds.

First for the dry, (sunny I assume), west side of the house:

Special Value to Native Bees include  Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Special Value to Native Bees, Bumble Bees and Honey Bees and attracts butterflies includes Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed)

Special Value to Native Bees, Bumble Bees and Honey Bees and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds includes Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)

Secondly, for the part shade (I assume), moist, north side of the yard:

Attracts butterflies includes Actaea racemosa var. racemosa (black cohosh)

Attracts butterflies, birds and hummingbirds includes Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

 

From the Image Gallery


Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Purple milkweed
Asclepias purpurascens

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Black cohosh
Actaea racemosa var. racemosa

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

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