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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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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95
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: $10.95