Home > Wildflowers/Forbs > To See Caterpillars
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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White Turtlehead White Turtlehead

Chelone glabra

Well sought-after host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly. Blooms are white, sometimes tinged with pink. Perfect plant for a damp spot with intermittent light. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

Light: Part Sun
Soil: Moist
Height: 2'-4 feet
Blooms: August-October
Flower: White, White & Pink

Price: $11.95
Wild Senna Wild Senna

Cassia marilandica, Senna marilandica

Topped with dense clusters of yellow pea-like flowers in mid-summer, Wild Senna is low maintenance & deer and rabbit resistance. Although shrubby in habit and therefore also included under "woody" here, it is an herbaceous perennial, sprouting at ground level each spring. Pollinator host plant to Sleepy Orange, Orange-barred Sulfur, Cloudless Sulfur, Silver-spotted Skipper butterflies & the Black Witch moth with wingspan to 7". Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Wild Strawberry 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 as it spreads readily by stolons. Having high ecological value, it provides early season nectar, pollen & serves as a larval host plant. Provenance: Kentucky.

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

Price: $11.95
Narrow-leaved Sunflower Narrow-leaved Sunflower

Helianthus angustifolius

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 dried seeds support many birds in winter. Under favorable conditions, this plant grows large and spreads readily. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Carolina Milkvine Carolina Milkvine

Matelea carolinensis

This is a vine in the Milkweed Family that has milky sap and hosts the Monarch caterpillar. The leaves are opposite and heart-shaped. Unique and attractive flowers are a deep purple, pods are "spiny" but not sharp. Often found on basic soil near streams. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Spicebush 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. Female bushes bear bright red fat-rich berries that are highly prized by birds. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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


Price: $11.95
Stiff Goldenrod Stiff Goldenrod

Solidago rigida, Oligoneuron rigidum

One of the prettiest goldenrods, Rigid Goldenrod has broad, flattened clusters of rich yellow flowers that attract pollinators galore. This plant is tall, typically unbranched and spreads by rhizomes. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Giant Ironweed Giant Ironweed

Vernonia gigantea

Try Ironweed in a bouquet with Mist Flower, just beautiful. Highly attractive to butterflies. Deer resistant. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 5 to 8 feet
Blooms: August-September
Flowers: Purple-Magenta

Price: $11.95
Ninebark Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

Clusters of white-pink spirea-like flowers bloom in spring, pink fruit (pictured) and exfoliating bark in fall & winter give this shrub multi-season appeal. Good for erosion control, specimen & 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: $11.95
Downy Sunflower Downy Sunflower

Helianthus mollis

A showy true 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 free to spread or grown in pots. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Carolina Wild Petunia Carolina Wild Petunia

Ruellia caroliniensis

A wonderful little plant that produces a relatively big, cheerful flower (to 2" long). Blooms intermittently throughout the growing season. Drought tolerant. One larval host plant for the Common Buckeye butterfly & a source of nectar for hummingbirds. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

Light: Part to Full Sun
Soil: Moist to Dry
Height: 6-24"
Blooms: May-September
Flowers: Pale Purple

Price: $11.95
Blue Wood Aster Blue Wood Aster

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Aster cordifolius

Each plant yields a bouquet of lovely pale blue flowers with yellow centers. 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: $11.95
Aromatic Aster Aromatic Aster

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Aster oblongifolius

Perfect height for the home garden, profuse blue-lavender blooms provide the solution to both late-season color and nectar. Trim to desired shape through June. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $11.95
Trumpet Honeysuckle Trumpet Honeysuckle

Lonicera sempervirens

Gorgeous trumpet-shaped scarlet flowers with orange throat attract hummingbirds & butterflies. Growth form tends to be "bushy," filling out nicely against a support. Easily trained to a trellis or arbor by tying & trimming to shape. Red berries feed birds in fall.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average
Length: 10 to 15 feet
Blooms: May to June
Flowers: Red & Orange

Price: $13.95