Butterfly Host Plants

What is a Host Plant for Butterflies

A plant that gives butterflies shelter required for laying eggs and serves as a food source to their caterpillars is called a host plant. Flowering plants such as Passion Vine and Milkweed, herbs like Fennel, and trees such as Sweet Bay Magnolia are all used as host plants.

Common Butterflies and their Host Plants

Creating a list of host plants is the first step towards planning a butterfly garden. Since different plant species attract different butterflies, you need to choose the right host plants for the survival of caterpillars. You should have a mixture of host plants and nectar-rich flowering plants if you want to increase the variety of butterflies in your landscape. Some nectar-producing plants include butterfly weed, milkweed, butterfly bush, ironweed, asters, verbena, common zinnia, Mexican sunflower, tickseed sunflower, Brazilian vervain, and chaste tree.

Butterfly Host Plant

Here we have listed a few host plants that will attract some of the more common butterfly species to your garden.

Butterfly SpeciesHost Plant
Alfalfa ButterflyClovers, alfalfa, deerweed
American CopperCurly dock, sorrel
American LadyIronweed, pearly everlasting, pussytoes
American SnoutHackberry
Anise SwallowtailCitrus, parsley, fennel, anise
Atala ButterflyCoontie
Black SwallowtailFennel, carrot, parsley, dill
Banded HairstreakWalnut, hickory, oak
Baltimore CheckerspotTurtlehead
BuckeyeToadflax, plantain, snapdragon, gerardia
Cabbage WhiteBrussels sprout, collard, mustard plant
California DogfaceBlue false indigo
Carolina SatyrGrass
California SisterOak
Checkered SkipperHollyhock, mallow
Checkered WhiteTumble mustard
Clouded SulphurClover, alfalfa
Cloudless SulphurSenna, canary bird bush
Colorado HairstreakOak
Common SnoutHackberry
Diana FritillaryViolets
DogfaceFalse indigo, clover, lead plant
Dreamy DuskywingAspen, willow, poplar
Dotted CheckerspotBeardtongue
EasternTailed-blueWild pea, alfalfa, clover
Eastern CommaHop,elm, nettle
Eastern Tiger SwallowtailWillow, sycamore
Giant SwallowtailRue, citrus, prickly ash, hop tree
GrayHairstreakClover, hawthorn, mallow
Gulf FritillaryPassion vine
Horace’s DuskywingScrub, white, and red oaks
Marine BlueLegume, alfalfa
Karner BlueLegume, lupine
Mourning CloakAlder, elm, cottonwood, poplar, willow
Oregon SwallowtailParsley, sagebrush
Orange SulphurClover
Painted CrescentAster
Pipevine SwallowtailPipevine
Painted LadyHollyhock, legume, thistle, mallow
QuestionMarkElm, falsenettle, hackberry, nettle
Red SatyrGrass
Red AdmiralHop, admiral
Red-spotted PurplePoplar, oak, cottonwood, willow, cherry
Red-bandedHairstreakOak, waxmyrtle, sumac
Regal FritillaryViolet
Sandia HairstreakBeargrass
Sachem SkipperGrass
Silver-spotted SkipperLocust, false indigo
Satyr CommaNettle
Spicebush SwallowtailSassafras, spicebush
Summer AzureNew Jersey tea, flowering dogwood
Spring AzureBlackcherry
Two-tailed SwallowtailHop, ash, chokecherry
Tawny EmperorElm
ViceroyPoplar,cottonwood, willow
Zebra SwallowtailPaw-paw

Aside from host plants and nectar-rich plants, you may offer a fruit-feeding station, because some species like the monarch, mourning cloak, question mark, and red-spotted purple, feed on fruits. Therefore, you need to diversify your offerings for attracting more of these beautiful butterfly species.