YBN Logo

YBN Logo
Home
Newsletter
Events
Plant Collection
Plants By Color
Availability List
Plant Search
Plant Delivery
Gardening Help
Design Service
Directions
Contact Us
Hours

Friends of YBN
Press Articles
Native Bees
Rebate Programs
Help Wanted
YBN Logo

Butterfly Plants for the Native Garden
Garden Guides | At Your Home Garden Design Service | In House Bed Design | Garden Tune-Up Service
Establishing a Butterfly Garden
Prepared by Joanne van der Laan, 2000, for Yerba Buena Nursery

Observation
The first step in establishing a butterfly garden involves the simple act of observation. Spend a few sunny afternoons at a local park, abandoned field and around your neighborhood. Take notes on any butterflies you see. These can be used to identify butterflies. There are many wonderful field guides available to help with identification. These are the butterflies most likely to be attracted to your garden. You may also want to investigate what butterflies might migrate through your area so that you can provide them with a resting spot as well. Be sure to note the habitat that you observed each type of butterfly in (marsh, meadow, chaparral, etc.)

Site
The next step is to choose an appropriate site in your garden. Butterflies require a sunny exposure that is protected from high winds. If your site is too shady, consider opening it up some, or choose a different site. Large shrubs can effectively block high winds as well as providing nectar for adult butterflies and food for their larvae. You may still want to consider using shrubs to provide shelter even if you have walls or fences that block the wind.

Habitat
Butterflies vary in their lifestyles and timing of their lifecycles. Remember in step one when you noted the habitats you observed the butterflies in? Now is the time to use that information. If you want to attract a particular butterfly to your garden, be sure to create a similar habitat. The more habitat types you provide, the larger the number, variety and length of stay you will encounter.

Plant Selection
The next step is plant selection. Butterflies typically need more than one plant type to complete their lifecycles. Many butterflies require one or just a few specific host plants to feed their larvae. The larva is the caterpillar stage of the butterfly life-cycle. You need to be sure to provide whatever plant is the food source for the larvae of the butterflies you want to attract. As adults, butterflies require good sources of nectar. Many plants are suitable nectar sources for a large variety of butterflies, and most butterflies can utilize a wide variety of flowers.

Other Considerations
There a few more pieces of the puzzle to be considered. Butterflies being cold-blooded need the sunlight to warm their muscles for flight. This is one reason you see them most frequently when and where it is warm and sunny. Try if possible to provide them with a resting spot in full sun where they can gather the warmth and energy to fly. South facing walls and large field stones are good choices. Butterflies also need a source of drinking water such as shallow mud or sand puddles. To help butterflies acquire certain minerals, you can add manure, table salt, and fruit pieces to the water. Last, yet possibly most important, is to refrain from using any pesticides/insecticides near your garden. Butterflies are extremely sensitive to these chemicals in all stages of their lives.

REFERENCES:
Butterflies and their Larval Food Plants, Peter J. Bryant http://manba.bio.uci.edu/Bbryant/biodiv/bflyplnt.htm
Gunnarson, Linda, Haselsteiner, Francis. LaFlaur, Markk. Butterfly Gardening. Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden. Xerces Society, 1989
Landscaping for Bay Area Butterflies, Prepared by Leslie Saul, 1992
Las Pilitas Butterfly List, http/laspilitas.com/butterfly.htm
Stewart, Bob. Common Butterflies of California. West Coast Lady Press, 1998
Notes on Larval Food Plants of some Bay Area Butterflies, Prepared by Jeff Caldwell

Plant List

The following is a list of California native plants grown by Yerba Buena Nursery which are recommended to attract butterflies to your garden. Some plants provide a food source for butterfly larvae; other plants are used for nectar by adult butterflies. Some plants appeal to both larvae and adult butterflies.

We are building lists of which species of local butterflies are attracted to which plants, but are only just beginning this process.

Botanical NameCommon NameAttracts...TypeButterflies this plant attracts
Acer macrophyllum Big Leaf Maple larvae tree
Achillea millefolium - pink Pink Yarrow both perennial
Achillea millefolium 'Calistoga' Grey-Leaved Yarrow both perennial
Achillea millefolium 'King Range' White Yarrow both perennial
Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma Coast' Sonoma White Yarrow both perennial
Adenostoma fasciculatum Chamise larvae shrub
Aesculus californica California Buckeye larvae tree
Allium unifolium Meadow Onion adults bulb
Alnus rhombifolia White Alder larvae tree
Arabis blepharophylla Coast Rock Cress adults perennial Sara Orangetips
Arbutus menziesii Madrone larvae tree
Aristolochia californica California Dutchmans Pipe larvae vine Pipevine Swallowtail
Armeria maritima Sea Thrift or Sea Pink adults perennial Skippers, Blues
Asclepias cordifolia Purple Milkweed both perennial
Asclepias eriocarpa Indian Milkweed both perennial
Asclepias fascicularis Butterfly Weed both perennial Monarch, Red Admirals, Western Tiger Swallows
Asclepias speciosa Showy Milkweed both perennial
Aster chilensis Chilean Aster both perennial Skippers, Mylitta Crescent, West Coast Lady
Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Pt.' Dwarf Coyote Bush larvae shrub
Baccharis pilularis var. consanguinea Coyote Bush larvae shrub
Baccharis pilularis var. pilularis 'Twin Peaks II' Coyote Bush larvae shrub
Calycanthus occidentalis Spice Bush adults shrub Brown Elfin
Ceanothus 'Blue Mound' 'Blue Mound' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Centennial' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Concha' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus cuneatus Buckbrush both shrub
Ceanothus cuneatus var. rigidus 'Snowball' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Dark Star' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Ebbets Field' Dwarf Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Far Horizons' 'Far Horizons' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Gerda Isenberg' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus gloriosus 'Anchor Bay' Point Reyes Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus gloriosus 'Heart's Desire' Glory Mat both shrub
Ceanothus gloriosus ssp. exaltatus 'Emily Brown' Point Reyes Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus griseus 'Kurt Zadnik' Carmel Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis 'Yankee Point' Carmel Creeper both shrub
Ceanothus griseus x arboreus 'Ray Hartman' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus hearstiorum Hearst Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus impressus 'Mesa Lilac' California-Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus impressus 'Vandenberg' Santa Barbara Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus maritimus 'Frosty Dawn' Maritime Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus maritimus 'Point Sierra' Maritime Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus 'Sierra Blue' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus Wild Lilac both shrub Pale Swallowtail, Echo Blue, Buckeyes, Spring Azure, Brown Elfin, CA Tortoise Shell -- [this list will apply to a variety Ceanothus species]
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Skylark' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Snow Flurry' Wild Lilac both shrub
Ceanothus 'Tilden Park' California Ceanothus both shrub
Ceanothus 'Wheeler Canyon' Wild Lilac both shrub
Cercocarpus betuloides Western Mountain Mahogany larvae shrub
Chlorogalum pomeridianum Soap Lily larvae bulb
Cirsium occidentale Cobweb Thistle adults annual
Cornus sericea Red Twig Dogwood larvae shrub
Cornus sericea ssp. occidentalis Red Twig Dogwood larvae shrub
Cornus stolonifera (sericea) 'Tilden Park' Red Twig Dogwoood larvae shrub
Deschampsia caespitosa Tufted Hair Grass larvae grass
Deschampsia caespitosa 'Susan's Choice' Tufted Hair Grass larvae grass
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. holciformis Tufted Hairgrass larvae grass
Dicentra formosa Western Bleeding Heart larvae perennial
Epilobium 'Brilliant Smith' - (Zauschneria) California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium canum - (Zauschneria) California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium canum 'Calistoga' California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium canum 'Catalina' California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium canum ssp. canum 'Silver Select' California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium 'Hurricane Point' California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium septentrionalis 'Select Mattole' California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Epilobium septentrionalis 'Wayne's Silver' - (Zauschneria) California Fuchsia larvae perennial
Erigeron glaucus Seaside Daisy both perennial West Coast Lady, Checkerspots, Painted Lady, Skippers, Gray Hairstreak, Mournful Duskywing, Mylitta Crescent -- same for many Erigeron species.
Erigeron glaucus 'Bountiful' Seaside Daisy adults perennial West Coast Lady, Checkerspots, Painted Lady, Skippers, Gray Hairstreak, Mournful Duskywing, Mylitta Crescent
Erigeron glaucus 'Cape Sebastian' Seaside Daisy adults perennial
Erigeron glaucus 'Sea Breeze' Seaside Daisy adults perennial
Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' Seaside Daisy adults perennial West Coast Lady, Checkerspots, Painted Lady, Skippers, Gray Hairstreak, Mournful Duskywing, Mylitta Crescent
Eriogonum arborescens Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat adults shrub
Eriogonum crocatum Saffron Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriogonum elongatum Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriogonum fasciculatum 'Theodore Payne' California Buckwheat adults shrub
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatum California Buckwheat adults shrub
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum California Buckwheat adults shrub
Eriogonum giganteum Saint Catherine's Lace adults shrub
Eriogonum grande var. rubescens Rosey Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriogonum latifolium Chalk Buckwheat adults perennial Langes Metalmark
Eriogonum nudum Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriogonum umbellatum 'Excellent Yellow' Sulfur Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriogonum umbellatum var. polyanthum 'Shasta Sulphur' Sulfur Buckwheat adults perennial
Eriophyllum confertiflorum Golden Yarrow adults shrub
Eriophyllum lanatum Dwarf Woolly Daisy adults perennial
Eriophyllum nevinii Nevin's Eriophyllum adults shrub
Eriophyllum staechadifolium Lizard Tail both shrub
Erysimum concinnum Coast Wallflower larvae perennial
Erysimum franciscanum San Francisco Wallflower larvae perennial
Erysimum insulare var. suffrutescens Dune Wallflower larvae perennial
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy larvae annual
Festuca idahoensis Idaho Fescue larvae grass
Festuca idahoensis 'Tomales Bay' Tomales Bay Idaho Fescue larvae grass
Fragaria californica (vesca) Woodland Strawberry larvae perennial
Fragaria chiloensis Beach Strawberry larvae perennial
Galvezia speciosa Island Bush Snapdragon larvae shrub Checkerspot
Galvezia speciosa 'Boca Rosa' Island Bush Snapdragon larvae shrub Checkerspot
Galvezia speciosa 'Firecracker' Island Bush Snapdragon larvae shrub Checkerspot
Heterotheca sess. ssp. bolanderi 'San Bruno Mtn.' Golden Aster both perennial West Coast Lady, Painted Lady, Checkerspots, Gray Hairstreak, Cabbage White, Coppers
Keckiella cordifolia Red Climbing Penstemon larvae shrub
Keckiella corymbosa Redwood Penstemon larvae shrub
Keckiella 'Roy Taylor' Shrubby Penstemon larvae perennial
Lavatera assurgentiflora Mission Mallow larvae shrub
Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet' California Beach Aster adults perennial
Lobelia cardinalis Scarlet Lobelia adults perennial
Lobelia dunnii var. serrata Blue Lobelia adults perennial
Lonicera hispidula var. vacillans Hairy Honeysuckle adults vine Spicebush Swallowtail
Lupinus albifrons Silver Bush Lupine both shrub Blues, Painted Ladies, Gray Hairstreak, Skippers
Lupinus albifrons var. collinus Dwarf Silver Bush Lupine both perennial
Lupinus arboreus - -- Lavender Yellow Bush Lupine both shrub
Lupinus arboreus - purple form Purple Bush Lupine both shrub
Lupinus polyphyllus Marsh Lupine both perennial
Malacothamnus fasciculatus Chaparral Mallow larvae shrub Painted Ladies, Buckeyes, Skippers, Monarchs, Red Admirals -- Same for many Malacothamnus species.
Mimulus - Purple Monkeyflower Hybrid larvae perennial
Mimulus aurantiacus Sticky Monkeyflower larvae perennial Chalcedon Checkerspot, Buckeye
Mimulus bifidus Apricot Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus cardinalis Scarlet Monkeyflower adults perennial Buckeyes
Mimulus 'Changeling' Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus 'Classic Purple' Purple Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus clevelandii Monkeyflower larvae shrub
Mimulus 'Dark Red' Hybrid Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus 'Eleanor' Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus guttatus Seep Monkeyflower larvae perennial Buckeyes
Mimulus hybrids Monkeyflower Hybrids larvae perennial
Mimulus 'Kathy's Pink' Pink Monkeyflower larvae shrub
Mimulus longiflorus Southern Bush Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus longiflorus ssp. calycinus Monkey-Flower larvae perennial
Mimulus longiflorus ssp. calycinus Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus longiflorus 'Topanga Canyon' Southern Sticky Monkey Flower larvae perennial
Mimulus longiflorus var. rutilis Red Velvet Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus puniceus Red Bush Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus 'Ruby Silver' Ruby-Colored Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Mimulus -White Monkeyflower larvae perennial
Monardella macrantha Hummingbird Mint adults perennial
Monardella villosa Common Coyote Mint adults perennial Monarchs, Red Admiral, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
Monardella villosa ssp. franciscana Common Coyote Mint adults perennial Monarchs, Red Admiral, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Anise Swallowtail
Penstemon centranthifolius Scarlet Bugler larvae perennial
Penstemon eatonii Eaton's Penstemon larvae perennial
Penstemon heterophyllus Blue Bedder Penstemon larvae perennial
Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs' 'Blue Springs' Penstemon larvae perennial
Penstemon palmeri Palmer's Penstemon larvae perennial
Penstemon procerus Whorled Penstemon larvae perennial
Penstemon spectabilis Royal Penstemon larvae perennial
Philadelphus lewisii ssp. californica 'Goose Creek' Mock Orange adults shrub
Plantago subnuda Coastal Plantain larvae perennial
Platanus racemosa Western Sycamore larvae tree
Populus fremontii Fremont Cottonwood larvae tree
Populus tremuloides Quaking Aspen larvae tree
Prunus ilicifolia Holly-Leafed Cherry both shrub Pale Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail
Quercus agrifolia Coast Live Oak larvae tree
Quercus chrysolepis Canyon Live Oak larvae tree
Quercus douglasii Blue Oak larvae tree
Quercus garryana Oregon White Oak larvae tree
Quercus lobata Valley Oak larvae tree
Quercus parvula var. shrevei Santa Cruz Mountain Oak larvae tree
Rhamnus californica Coffeeberry both shrub Pale Swallowtail, CA Tortoise Shell -- Same for various selections.
Rhamnus californica 'Ed Holm' Coffeeberry larvae shrub
Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case' Coffeeberry larvae shrub
Rhamnus californica 'Leatherleaf' Coffeeberry larvae shrub
Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno' Coffeeberry larvae shrub
Rhamnus crocea Red Berry larvae shrub
Rosa californica Wild California Rose larvae shrub Mourning Cloak
Rudbeckia california var. californica California Coneflower adults perennial
Salix breweri Serpentine Willow larvae tree
Salix delnortensis Del Norte Willow larvae shrub
Salix scouleriana Scouler's Willow larvae shrub Lorquin's Admiral -- Same with many other Salix species.
Salvia apiana White Sage adults shrub
Salvia 'Bee's Bliss' Sage adults shrub
Salvia brandegei Santa Rosa Island Sage adults shrub
Salvia brandegei 'Pacific Blue' Santa Rosa Island Sage adults shrub
Salvia clevelandii Cleveland Sage adults shrub Monarchs, Pale Swallowtails, Common Sulphur, Silvery Blues -- Same for many Salvia species.
Salvia clevelandii 'Winifred Gilman' Cleveland Sage adults shrub
Salvia 'Dara's Choice' Dara's Choice Hybrid Sage adults shrub
Salvia leucophylla Purple Sage adults shrub
Salvia leucophylla 'Amethyst Bluff' Amethyst Bluff Purple Sage adults shrub
Salvia leucophylla 'Figueroa' Purple Sage adults shrub
Salvia leucophylla 'Point Sal' Purple Sage adults shrub
Salvia mellifera Black Sage larvae shrub
Salvia mellifera 'Green Carpet' Prostrate Black Sage adults shrub
Salvia mellifera 'Terra Seca' 'Terra Seca' Black Sage adults shrub
Salvia mellifera x ? 'Shirley's Creeper' Black Sage Hybrid adults shrub
Salvia mellifera x leucophylla Hybrid Sage adults shrub
Salvia munzii Munz's Sage adults shrub
Salvia 'Pinkie' Sage adults shrub
Salvia sonomensis Creeping Sage adults shrub
Salvia 'Vicki Romo' Hybrid Sage adults shrub
Salvia x clevelandii 'Allen Chickering' Cleveland Sage Hybrid adults shrub
Salvia x clevelandii 'Aromas' Cleveland Sage Hybrid adults shrub
Salvia x clevelandii 'Pozo Blue' Cleveland Sage Hybrid adults shrub
Salvia x clevelandii 'Whirly Blue' Cleveland Sage Hybrid adults shrub
Sambucus mexicana Blue Elderberry adults tree
Sambucus racemosa ssp. racemosa Red Elderberry adults shrub
Scrophularia californica California Figwort larvae perennial
Sedum laxum ssp. heckneri Heckner's Stonecrop adults perennial
Sedum niveum Davidson's Stonecrop adults perennial
Sedum oreganum Stonecrop adults perennial
Sedum spathulifolium Stonecrop both perennial Painted Ladies, Red Admirals
Sedum spathulifolium - green Tomales Bay form Green Stonecrop both perennial
Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' Stonecrop both perennial
Sidalcea malvaeflora Checker Bloom larvae perennial Monarch
Sidalcea malvaeflora 'Palustre' Checker Bloom larvae perennial
Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-Eyed-Grass larvae perennial
Spiraea densiflora Rose Spiraea adults shrub
Symphoricarpos albus Snowberry adults shrub
Trichostema lanatum Woolly Blue Curls adults shrub
Vaccinium ovatum Huckleberry adults shrub Blues, Brown Elfin
Verbena lilacina 'De la Mina' Cedros Island Verbena adults perennial
Viola pedunculata Johnny Jump-Up larvae perennial

Garden Guides | At Your Home Garden Design Service | In House Bed Design | Garden Tune-Up Service

Return to Home Page

Yerba Buena Nursery
(650) 851-1668

Visit Us:
@ Pastorino Farms
12511 San Mateo Road (Highway 92)
Half Moon Bay, CA

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 3188
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Open Tuesday - Friday 9 am-4:30 pm, Saturday 9am - 5 pm    CLOSED Sundays & Mondays
We are open in our new Half Moon Bay Location!