Habitat preservation is the foundation of Plant.Grow.Fly. and host plants are the nurseries of your garden, as they are vital in helping pollinator numbers. Butterflies are uniquely connected to their host plants, laying their eggs on or next to specific species of plants. Female adult butterflies lay their eggs on many surfaces of the host plant and generally, in 1 to 2 weeks, a caterpillar emerges from each egg and begins feeding on the plant. Holes in the leaves of your garden are a very good sign: this means caterpillars are present! If you’re concerned about the aesthetics of holey leaves, perhaps strategically place the host plants intermixed with nectar plants.
This list is tailored for the Upper Midwest, click here to find out about how to participate in other parts of the county.
Gardens need at least one host plant and one nectar plant from our list to be registered as a Plant.Grow.Fly. garden.
Want your garden to be 100% native? Look for the * to indicate which plants are native to the upper Midwest
$$. Perennial. Bloom April-June. Grow up to 1 ft tall with a ¾-1½ ft spread. Low maintenance ground cover. Host to Painted Lady.
$$. Perennial. Bloom in fall. Grow 1-5 ft tall with a 1-4 ft spread. Used in containers and beds. Host to Pearl Crescent and Silvery Checkerspot.
False Indigo (Baptisia)*
$$. Perennial. Blooms late spring. Grows 2-4 ft tall with a 2-4 ft spread. Used in containers and beds. Host to Silver-Spotted Skipper and Wild Indigo Duskywing.
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)*
$$$. Deciduous shrub. Blooms May-July. Grows 2-4 ft tall with a 3-5 ft spread. Host to Spring Azure, Summer Azure, and Mottled Duskwing.
Herbs- Dill, Fennel, or Curly Parsley
$. Annual or perennial depending on variety. Blooms late spring-summer. Used in
containers and beds. Host to the Black Swallowtail.
Bush Clover (Lespedeza)*
$$$. Deciduous shrub. Blooms August-September. Grows 4- 5 ft tall with a 4-10 ft spread. Host to Eastern Tailed Blue.
$$. Perennial. Blooms early summer-midsummer. Grows 2-3 ft tall with a 1-2 ft spread. Used in containers, beds, and on slopes. Deer resistant. Host to Eastern Tailed blue and Gray Hairstreak.
$$. Perennial. Blooms throughout summer. Grows 2-4 ft tall with a 2-3 ft spread. Used in containers and beds. Deer resistant. Host to Monarch.
Looking for milkweed for your garden? Click Here
$$. Perennial. Host to Wood Nymph, Northern Wood Satyr, Northern Pearly Eye, Crossline Skipper, Delaware Skipper, Least Skipper, Little Glasswing, Sachem, Northern Broken Dash, and Peck’s Skipper.
$$. Annual and perennial varieties. Bloom late spring-late summer. Grow 8 in-6 ft tall with an 8-20 inch spread depending on variety. Used in containers, beds, slopes, and as ground cover. Host to the Buckeye.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)*
$$. Annual and perennial varieties. Bloom midsummer-fall. Grow 2-10 ft tall with a 1-3 ft spread depending on variety. Used in containers and beds. Deer resistant. Host to Silvery Checkerspot
$. Annual and perennial varieties. Bloom throughout summer. Grow 3-10 ft tall with a 3-4 ft spread. Used in beds and borders. Host to Painted Lady and Silvery Checkerspot.
$. Perennial. Bloom spring, fall, and winter. Grows 1-12 inches tall with a 6 inch spread. Used in containers, beds, and groundcover. Deer resistant. Host to Great Spangled Fritillary and Variegated Fritillary.
Species to select include Bur, Pin, Swamp White, Red, Chinquapin, or Black. Mature heights can reach up to 100’ depending on species. As a whole, 532 different pollinator species depend on oaks making them an excellent host plant.