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Host Plants for Pollinators

When planning a pollinator garden, it's easy to get caught up with all the colorful, fragrant blooms. The flowers provide a rich source of pollen and nectar, which are important for your local bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. However, the best pollinator gardens don't only have flowers. They incorporate host plants - plants that a pollinator lays eggs, eats, and lives on. Flowers are great for inviting pollinators to visit, but host plants are how you get them to stay! 

WHAT HOST PLANTS CAN YOU ADD TO YOUR GARDEN?

We offer a wide variety of plants that serve as host plants for in our collection, Plants for Caterpillars. By planting a few of them in your garden, you'll get front row seats to watch the butterfly life-cycle unfold. These plants will get eaten by caterpillars, but don't worry, that's exactly what we want. Embrace the holes you find in your foliage! That's how you know you're helping your pollinators. 


Passiflora incarnata - purple passionflower


The eccentric flowers are adored by nearly every pollinator, including hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. As a bonus, the foliage serves as a host for the caterpillars of several types of butterflies: gulf fritillaries, variegated fritillaries, banded hair-streak, red banded hair-streak, and the zebra swallowtail!

Cinderella Swamp Milkweed - Asclepias incarnata

 

This milkweed boasts clusters of small pink flowers that bloom in the summer. If you plant it in your garden, you can find Monarch caterpillars calling this plant home! Milkweeds, including 'Cinderella' Swamp Milkweed, are essential for the Monarch lifecycle.

Symphoricarpos Proud Berry® - Coralberry


With these unusual berries, Coralberry is sure to get all sorts of attention in the garden - and not just from people! The caterpillars of the snowberry clearwing, a beautiful hummingbird moth, feed on the foliage

Rue - Ruta graveolens


Rue is a pollinator powerhouse, serving as a first-choice food source for the caterpillars of many species of swallowtail butterflies. And because the caterpillars love it, you'll frequently spot butterflies laying eggs on the plant!

Viburnum All That Glows® - Arrowwood Viburnum


Its leaves serve as a food source for the larvae of hummingbird moths (aka clearwing moths) and spring azure butterflies, while its flowers attract red admiral and question mark butterflies!


HOW IMPORTANT ARE HOST PLANTS?

Host plants are vital for the pollinator life cycle. It's where female insects lay their eggs, where larvae hatch and feed, and the place they call home. Many species of butterflies only have one host plant, and without it, they can't complete their life cycle. Depletion of host plants can be dangerous, causing a huge drop in the population.

The Atala butterfly (pictured here) serves as a reminder for how important host plants can be! This incredible butterfly was thought to be extinct, caused by overharvesting their host plant, the Coontie Cycad. However, thanks to gardeners planting their host plant in their home gardens, local colonies of Atala butterflies can be found in Southern Florida once again. 

Atala butterfly resting on a leaf
Monarch caterpillar on a milkweed leaf

Milkweed is another host plant, which is vital for the Monarch butterfly lifecycle. Monarch caterpillars exclusively feed on their leaves, which are filled with cardenolides. Cardenolides are stored in the bodies of Monarch caterpillars and butterflies as a defense against predators. Without Milkweed, we wouldn't have Monarchs! 

If you have questions, let us know! Comment your questions below or reach out through our contact us page. We have a team of horticulturalists who are here to help!

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