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.
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.
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!