Why garden for butterflies?

Is there a reason not to? We haven't heard any (good ones). Here are a few reasons you might want to give a Butterfly Habitat a chance.

  • People like butterflies. Butterflies invoke pleasure in most people. Their bright colors and seemingly carefree lives instill a sense of wonder and serenity.
  • Butterflies are important to the environment. They pollinate plants and are the prey of other species.
  • Conservation! The migrating Monarch population is decreasing. Part of the reason is the loss of breeding grounds. 
  • You can make a Butterfly Habitat ANYWHERE! Backyard? Yes. Balcony? Yup. Acres and acres of land? Oh yeah! 

Where to start

If you need inspiration, drop by Texas Discovery Gardens' Native Butterfly Habitat!

  • For starters you need a garden space. Choose a sunny spot. Butterflies are cold blooded and need warmth from the sun to fly. 
  • Research what species are in your area. Texas is home to about 450 species of butterflies. Due to the range of environments, not all species live throughout the state.   
  • What's puddling? Male butterflies visit the edges of puddles, streams and ponds for the water and nutrients vital for sexual maturity. Include a water feature such as a muddy-edged pond or bird bath. 
  • Now for the ORGANIC plants! Your Butterfly Habitat will need two kinds of plants, nectar plants and host plants. What's the difference? 

Once your garden is all set up, apply for a butterfly habitat certification.



Plant 3-5 of each plant in order to accommodate hungry caterpillars! Some of these host plants also make great nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators.  

  1. Hop Ash (Ptelea trifoliata) for Giant Swallowtail  
  2. Passionvine (Passiflora incarnata, P. lutea) for Gulf Fritillary
  3. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) for Eastern Black Swallowtai
  4. Rue (Ruta graveolens) for Eastern Black Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail
  5. Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) for Monarch and Queen
  6. Hackberry (Celtis sp.) for Hackberry, Snout, and Tawny Emperor
  7. Pipevine (Aristolochia sp.) for Pipevine Swallowtail
  8. Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) for Buckeye, Phaon Crescentspot
  9. Sennas (Senna sp.) for Giant Cloudless Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Sleepy Orange
  10. False nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) for Red Admiral, Question Mark, Eastern Comma
  11. False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) for Dogface butterfly, Silver‐spotted Skipper, Gray Hairstreak
  12. Clammyweed (Polanasia dodecandra) for Great Southern White, Checkered White


1.   LantanaLantana sp.  
2.   Verbena, Verbena sp.
3.   Gregg’s Mist Flower, Eupatorium greggii   
4.   Frostweed, Verbesina virginica
5.   PentasPentas lanceolata  
6.   Autumn SageSalvia greggii  
7.   Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis  
8.   Hummingbird Bush, Anisacanthus quadrifidus
9.   Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens  
10. Blackfoot Daisy, Melampodium leucanthum  
11. Zinnia, Zinnia sp. (Don't buy double petal varieties. Pollinators can’t access the nectar)
12. Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia