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The following are 'larval host plants.' The caterpillar portion of the moth & butterfly (Lepidoptera) life cycle is a critical stage in which resources are obtained to springboard the insect into it's mature winged form. Much more attention & support in this area is needed, as the example of the Monarch with the milkweed host plant. The plants below are some that are known to provide those resources.

This category is a work-in-progress. Ongoing effort will be made to include more larval host plants as well as which Lepidopteran caterpillar(s) each plant supports.

Often, adult butterflies 'hang around' their host plants. The female to lay eggs & the male which is seeking females. Look for egg-laying & eggs. Find a cocoon or chrysalis. This is a great activity to engage children!
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Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias incarnata

When looking for a milkweed plant for the home garden, Swamp Milkweed is usually the best fit. It is not stocky nor does it spread vigorously by rhizomes. The milkweeds are one of the best nectar plants to attract pollinators, not least of which are the monarchs, which rely on milkweed foliage in the caterpillar stage. Quantities may be limited.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Moist to Average
Height: to 4 feet
Blooms: June-August
Flowers: Pink

Price: $7.95
Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

This robust plant attracts and supports many pollinators. It spreads easily by rhizomes. Common habitats include dry fields and along roads, provided they are not sprayed with herbicide. Larval host for the Monarch butterfly.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 3 feet
Blooms: June-August
Flowers: Cream/Pink

Price: $7.95
Whorled Milkweed

Asclepias verticillata

Dainty in appearance with "whorls" of thin leaves and elegant clusters of white flowers. This plant is ideal for that tough spot in dry soil and full sun. Spreads by rhizomes. Larval host to the Monarch butterfly.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Dry
Height: 2 feet
Blooms: July-September
Flowers: White

Price: $7.95
New England Aster

Aster novae-angliae, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Profuse royal purple flowers, each up to 1.5 inches wide. Flowers may also be shades of pink or even white. Plant may be trimmed to desired height in midsummer.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Wet to Dry
Height: to 5 feet
Blooms: August to October
Flowers: Usually Purple, also Pink, White

Price: $7.95
Wild Senna

Cassia marilandica, Senna marilandica

Topped with dense clusters of yellow pea-like flowers in mid-summer, Wild Senna makes a great hedge resistant to deer and rabbits. Low-maintenance. Although shrubby in habit and therefore also included under "woody" here, it is an herbaceous perennial as it dies back to the ground each winter. Sought as a pollinator host plant (Sleepy Orange, Orange-barred Sulfur, Cloudless Sulfur, Silver-spotted Skipper butterflies & the Black Witch moth with wingspan to 7").

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average Moisture
Height: 3-6 feet
Blooms: July-August
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Wild Strawberry

Fragaria virginiana

Wild or Virginia Strawberry has white flowers which provide early-season nectar. Decorative in a hanging pot and effective as a ground cover in full sun & average to dry soil as it spreads readily by stolons. High ecological value with nectar, pollen & as a larval host plant. A larval host for the Grizzled Skipper butterfly.

Light: Full to Part Sun
Soil: Average
Height: 4 to 7 inches
Blooms: April-June
Flowers: White

Price: $7.95
Narrow-leaved Sunflower

Helianthus angustifolius

Enough cannot be said of the abundance and beauty of these flowers. The leaves are sparse and small, making the entire plant appear to be a bountiful bouquet. It has a long blooming period. If left standing, the seed support many birds through winter. Under favorable conditions, plant may spread readily.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Moist
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Blooms: July-August
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Few-leaved Sunflower

Helianthus occidentalis

Most of the leaves are clustered in a basal rosette making the flowering stems look airy and perfect to trim and pop into a vase. Like other sunflowers seed heads left on drying fall stems will provide food for birds in winter. Visited by a multitude of pollinators and is one larval host for the Gorgone Checkerspot, Silvery Checkerspot and Painted Lady butterflies.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Dry to Average
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Blooms: August-September
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Carolina Milkvine

Matelea carolinensis

This is a vine in the Milkweed Family that has milky sap and hosts the Monarch caterpillar. Leaves are an elongate heart-shape. Unique and attractive flowers are a deep purple, pods are "spiny" but not sharp. Often found on basic soil.

Light: Light Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Moist-Dry
Blooms: July-August
Flowers: Dark Purple

Price: $7.95
Anglepod Milkvine

Matelea gonocarpos

A member of the Milkweed Family, this vine "hosts" or feeds the Monarch caterpillar. This plant exudes white sap when injured. It is named for the ridges or angles on the surface of the pods. It has opposite heart-shaped leaves and interesting green or green-&-purple star-shaped flowers.

Light: Part Sun
Soil: Moist
Blooms: June-July
Flowers: Green, Green and Purple

Price: $7.95
Spicebush

Lindera benzoin

Larval host plant for the black and iridescent-blue Spicebush Swallowtail. The caterpillars are adorable, curling up in a leaf, with "eyes" to deter predators. Spicebush is a shrub that has highly aromatic foliage when crushed and turns a lovely pale yellow in autumn. If female, bush may be covered with bright red fat-rich berries that are highly prized by birds. This also comes in the standard 3.5" X 5" pots.

Light: Part Sun
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 6 to 12 feet


Price: $7.95
Passion Vine, Maypop

Passiflora incarnata

Flowers are unique & showy, complete with "frills." Larval host to the Variegated Fritillary (caterpillar pictured in slide show), Zebra Longwing, Red-banded Hairstreak, and Gulf Fritillary butterflies. Under favorable conditions Maypop may spread readily. Consider a contained situation for the home garden for long term ease of care.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average
Blooms: July-September
Flowers: Purple

Price: $7.95
Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Shrub. Showy white flowers borne in spherical clusters draw numerous pollinators. Bees use nectar for making honey, seeds feed wildlife. Prune to desired shape. Great for borders, rain gardens or as a specimen plant, even erosion control. Larval host plant for a number of species of Lepidoptera.

Light: Full to Part Sun
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 5 to 12 feet
Blooms: June-September
Flowers: White

Price: $7.95
Licorice Goldenrod

Solidago odora

This goldenrod is garden-worthy! Unlike other goldenrods, Licorice Goldenrod forms a tidy clump and does not spread aggressively by rhizomes. In part sun, ours stun in fall with lasting bright yellow flowers. Can be cut back in height by 1/2 in June as desired. Wonderful anise fragrance to crushed foliage provides a delightful show-and-tell opportunity. Goldenrods are particularly important to both insects and birds.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 1 to 4 feet
Blooms: August-September
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Stiff Goldenrod

Solidago rigida

One of the prettiest Goldenrods. Broad, flattened clusters of rich yellow flowers attract pollinators galore. Plant is tall, unbranched and spreads by rhizomes.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 2 to 5 feet
Blooms: July-September
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Golden Alexanders

Zizia aurea

Yellow blooms, though not showy are cheerful, providing early season color and nectar for polliators. Host plant for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average
Height: 1.5 to 3 feet
Blooms: May-June
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Blue Vervain

Verbena hastata

Blue-violet flowers in a multiple spikes resembling a candelabra. Attracts and supports a variety of bee species. Among other uses, a good candidate for Rain Gardens. Larval host to the fetching Common Buckeye butterfly.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 2 to 6 feet
Blooms: July-September
Flowers: Violet

Price: $7.95
Smooth Blue Aster

Aster laevis, Symphyotrichum laeve

A welcome profusion of lavender blooms late in the season. Good nectar source.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Dry to Average
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Blooms: September-October
Flowers: Blue-Violet

Price: $7.95
Rose Turtlehead

Chelone obliqua

Attractive especially when planted in a group, such as in a Rain Garden.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Blooms: July-August
Flowers: Pink

Price: $7.95
Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

Clusters of white-pink spirea-like flowers (not pictured) in spring, pink fruit (pictured) and exfoliating bark in winter give this shrub multi-season appeal. Good for erosion control, hedges. Larval host to many (40) native Lepidoptera.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 5 to 8 feet
Blooms: May to June
Flowers: White to Pink

Price: $7.95
Blue Wood Aster

Aster cordifolius, Symphyotrichum cordifolium

Each plant yields a bouquet of lovely pale blue flowers with yellow centers. Also a source for late-season nectar. Trim to desired height through June.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 2 to 5 feet
Blooms: August to September
Flowers: Blue with Yellow centers

Price: $7.95
Downy Sunflower

Helianthus mollis

A true showy sunflower which serves as a larval host to over 70 Lepidoptera (moths & butterflies). The foliage is "ashy" or grayish. The seed heads are a favorite of local birds in autumn. Best placed where it is allowed to spread or grown in pots.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Blooms: July-September
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Carolina Rose

Rosa carolina

Fragrant pink 2" wide flowers are followed by red hips in late summer. Best used in full sun to avoid mildew on leaves & massed in a border. May sucker to form colonies.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Blooms: May
Flowers: Pink

Price: $7.95
Yellow Passion Vine

Passiflora lutea

A delicate vine with tri-lobed leaves & small chartreuse flowers (~1/2 inch wide) that yield purple-black berries. Most often seen in moist, rich woods. It is an important food for the larvae of several species of butterfly.

Light: Part Shade
Soil: Moist, Well-Drained
Height: to 15 feet
Blooms: May-September
Flowers: Yellow to Cream

Price: $7.95
Heart-leaved Golden Alexanders

Zizia aptera

Spring-blooming member of the Carrot family & host to the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Umbels of yellow flowers are appealing when grouped. Heart-shaped basal leaves distinguish this species from Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea).

Light: Full to Part Sun
Soil: Average
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Blooms: May
Flowers: Yellow

Price: $7.95
Swamp Rose

Rosa palustris

Good selection for seasonally flooded area in full sun. Flowers are fragrant and showy (to 2" across). Attractive reddish fall color. Spreads by suckers.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to seasonally Wet
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Blooms: June to July
Flowers: Pink

Price: $7.95
Flowering Dogwood

Cornus florida

Lovely specimen tree for intermediate light. White floral bracts are followed by red fruits that feed birds in the fall. Attractive reddish fall colors

Light: intermediate
Soil: Average
Height: 15 to 30 feet
Blooms: April to May
Flowers: White (bracts)

Price: $7.95