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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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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
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: $13.95
Smooth Blue Aster Smooth Blue Aster

Symphyotrichum laeve, Aster laevis

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: $13.95
New England Aster New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, Aster novae-angliae

Profusion of 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 late spring. Grown from Kentucky-source seed.

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

Price: $13.95
Pussytoes Pussytoes

Antennaria plantaginifolia

Soft, silvery & diminutive plant of intermediate light and well drained soil. Host plant for the Am. painted lady butterfly.

Light: Intermediate
Soil: Medium to Dry
Height: to 12 inches
Blooms: April to June

Price: $13.95
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: $15.95