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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
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
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. In part sun, ours stun in fall with lasting bright yellow flowers. 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.

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
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
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. It is an important food for the caterpillar of several species of butterfly. 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
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
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: $9.25
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. Aromatic Aster, so-named for the faint odor resulting from crushed foliage, may also be trimmed to desired shape in mid-summer.

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

Price: $9.25