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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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Dutchman's Pipevine Dutchman's Pipevine

Aristolochia tomentosa
Larval host plant for the lovely blue and black Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly! Leaves are blue-green and heart-shaped. Flowers resemble a little pipe. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil: Average
Height: to 30 feet
Blooms: May-June
Bloom Color: Green

Attracts: Butterflies
Host to: Pipevine Swallowtail

Price: $9.25
Swamp Milkweed 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, especially the monarchs which rely on milkweed foliage in the caterpillar stage.

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

Price: $9.25
Common Milkweed 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. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
Butterfly Milkweed Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Flame orange flowers are stunning in masses or drifts and attract pollinators galore. Interestingly, this plant does not exude the milky sap. Monarch butterfly host plant.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Dry to Average
Height: 2 feet
Blooms: June-August
Flowers: Orange

Price: $9.25
Whorled Milkweed 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. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25
Wild Senna 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"). Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25
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: $9.25
Few-leaved Sunflower 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: $9.25
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: $9.25
Anglepod Milkvine Anglepod Milkvine

Matelea gonocarpos

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

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

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25
Passion Vine, Maypop 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 from underground roots. Consider a contained situation in the home garden for long term ease of care. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
Buttonbush Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

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

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

Price: $9.25
Licorice Goldenrod Licorice Goldenrod

Solidago odora

Licorice Goldenrod forms a tidy clump. Wonderful anise fragrance from crushed foliage provides a delightful show-and-tell opportunity. Goldenrods are particularly important to both insects and birds. Cut back by 1/2 in June to control height if desired & removed spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25
Golden Alexanders Golden Alexanders

Zizia aurea

Yellow blooms, though moderately showy are cheerful, providing early season color and nectar for pollinators. 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: $9.25
Rose Turtlehead Rose Turtlehead

Chelone obliqua

Attractive especially when planted in groups. Best planted in intermediate light with moist well-drained soil such as in a rain garden.

Light: Intermediate
Soil: Average to Wet
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Blooms: July-August
Flowers: Pink

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25
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: $9.25
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: $9.25
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: $9.25
Sky Blue Aster Sky Blue Aster

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense, Aster azureus

Blue flowers (0.5" to 1") with yellow centers beautify the garden with color & attract pollinators seeking late-season nectar. This plant is easy to grow, drought-tolerant & can be used in rock gardens. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Dry to Average
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Blooms: September to October
Flowers: Blue with Yellow Center

Price: $9.25
Yellow Passion Vine 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. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $9.25
Rose Vervain Rose Vervain

Verbena canadensis

Attractive low mounding perennial with an extended bloom period. Good for ground cover, hanging baskets, window boxes, rock gardens & in pots. Attracts hummingbirds.

Light: Full Sun
Soil: Average to Dry
Height: to 1.5 feet
Blooms: May to August
Flowers: Pink to Purple

Price: $9.25
Poke Milkweed Poke Milkweed

Asclepias exaltata

Poke milkweed produces elegant pendulous umbels of white flowers. In nature it is found in areas such as open woods, rich mesic woodlands and along trail edges in moist wooded areas.

Light: Intermediate
Soil: Average to Moist, Well-Drained
Height: to 5 feet
Blooms: June to July
Flowers: White

Price: $9.25
Heart-leaved Golden Alexanders Heart-leaved Golden Alexanders

Zizia aptera

Spring-blooming member of the Carrot family & host to the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Umbels of yellow flowers are particularly appealing en mass. 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: $9.25
Hop Tree Hop Tree

Ptelea trifoliata

Also known as Wafer Ash, it is a large shrub useful for an informal hedge or privacy screen. Interesting fruits are clusters of 1" discs. It is a host plant for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. Look for tiny brown eggs or tiny "bird droppings" in late summer (see photo).

Light: Part to Full Shade
Soil: Dry to Average
Height: 15 to 20 feet
Flowers: June
Blooms: White, not showy

Price: $9.25
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: $9.25