Spicebush Swallowtail
Master magician, munching to and fro, a caterpillar works illusions til’ the end of his show ~K. D’Angelo

Butterfly Gardening with Host Plants

One of the most important secrets to a successful butterfly garden is to supply an ample amount of butterfly host plants. A butterfly "host" plant is the only plant that a particular female butterfly will lay her eggs on. Each species of butterfly uses a specific plant and sometimes a group plants utilized for egg laying. Planting butterfly host plants for the butterflies that frequent your region of the county will ensure your success in butterfly gardening. Without the proper butterfly host plant, butterflies will simply sip nectar and fly away. Host plants will keep the butterflies in your garden day after day until the butterfly courtship is complete and their tiny eggs have been laid.

Below you will find a list of some of the more common southern California butterflies and the host plants they use for laying their eggs. This list will vary depending on what part of the country you live in, so whenever possible try to use plants that are native to your region of the county.

Click here for a list of butterfly nectar plants

Acmon Blue Buckwheat (Eriogonum) Lupine (Lupinus), Trefoils (Lotus) and Milk-Vetches (Astragalus)

American Painted Lady

*Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), *California Sagebrush (Atremisia californica), *Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), *Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

Anise Swallowtail

Fennel, Dill, Parsley, Common Rue, *Lomatium (Lomatium utriculatum)


Snapdragon, Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia), Plantains, *Bush Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

California Dogface

*False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa and Amorpha californica)

California Sister

Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Checkered White


Cloudless Sulphur

*Cassia (Cassia bicapsularis), Senna

Common Hairstreak

*Buckwheat (Eriogonum)

Funeral Duskywing

*Deerweed (Lotus scoparius)

Giant Swallowtail

Citrus, Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora)

Gulf Fritillary

Passion Vine (Passiflora)

Monarch Butterfly

*Milkweed (Asclepias)

Mourning Cloak

Willow (Salix), Elm, Hackberry, Cottonwood

Orange Sulfur False Indigo (Amorpha californica)

Painted Lady

Hollyhock, Mallow, Cheeseweed (Malvacea), Thistle (Asteraceae), Lupine (Lupinus), Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii)

Pale Swallowtail

California Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), California Lilac (Ceanothus), Holly Leaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), Sycamore (Platanus)

Pipevine Swallowtail *Pipevine (Aristolochia californica) ;

Queen Butterfly

*Milkweed (Asclepias)

Red Admiral

Baby Tears Moss (Soleirolia soleirolii), *Nettle (Urtica holosericea)

Sara Orange Tip


West Coast Lady

*Mallow, Hollyhock, *Nettles (Urtica holosericea)

Western Tiger Swallowtail

*Willow (Salix), Poplar, Aspen, *Alder

* California Native Butterfly Host Plant

Master magician, munching to and fro, a caterpillar works illusions til’ the end of his show
~K. D’Angelo
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