Attracting Butterflies in Central Texas
Creating a vibrant garden full of butterfly activity requires a selection of colorful flowers full of nectar, but we must also think beyond that. To attract all stages of the butterfly life cycle, be sure to also provide food plants for the caterpillars, also known as host plants. The caterpillars will devour the food plants, but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice for all the beautiful adults that will follow! Also check out our page Raising Monarchs.
Tips for plant selection and placement
- Choose the sunniest location possible for the nectar plants; more sun means more nectar
- Place taller plants at the back, shorter ones at the front
- Plant in mass groups of one plant species and of the same color
- Grow a selection of spring, summer and fall blooming plants to attract butterflies year round
- Tuck the host plants in less obvious places; it helps protect the caterpillars and leaves with holes are less obvious
- Never use systemic pesticides and use organic approved pesticides very carefully and only if absolutely necessary – don’t forget Bt is toxic to ALL caterpillars of the moth and butterfly (Lepidoptera) family
Escarpment Black Cherry
Goldenball Lead Tree
Anacacho Orchid Tree
Mexican Flame Vine
Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum
African Blue Basil
Milkweed (All types)
Old Fashioned Petunias
Species of Butterfly and their Host Plants
Black Swallowtail — Dill, Fennel
Cloudless Sulphur — Senna (Flowering and Lindheimer’s)
Common Buckeye — Frogfruit
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail — Apple, Escarpment Black Cherry, Peach
Giant Swallowtail — Citrus
Gulf Fritillary — Passion Flower
Henry’s Elfin — Texas Persimmon
Monarch — Milkweed (Antelope Horn, Butterfly Weed, Showy , Tropical)
Pipevine Swallowtail — Fringed Pipevine
Tropical Milkweed: We strongly advise cutting this plant back sometime in October.
Scientists are still debating the long term effects of non-native tropical milkweed on the monarch population. If you have tropical milkweed growing in your Central Texas garden, we strongly advise cutting the plant back sometime in October. New tropical milkweed transplants will not be available for sale again until next spring.
We feel that native milkweeds are always the better option, but we continue to carry tropical milkweed for the following reasons:
- It is less challenging to grow and more suitable for beginner gardeners.
- It is a popular pollinator plant for many other insects apart from monarchs.
- Cutting back early addresses any overwintering concerns.
- Due to the widespread loss of habitat and wild foraging spaces, even a non-native option is better than none.
If you have concerns, we invite you to come in and share your research with us. New discoveries may lead to changes in future policies. Let’s help each other learn how to preserve our natural world!