The key to attracting butterflies to your landscape is to have both nectar producing and egg-laying plants available. Among the best nectar-producing plants are Gregg’s mistflower, milkweed, sunflower, and porterweed. Zinnias are the mainstay of a cutting flower garden in the summer and they also will be a great source of spectacular photos as they will be covered with  butterflies and hummingbirds harvesting their nectar production.

Lantanas, salvias, duranta, and cosmos are also popular nectar plants.

In addition to producing nectar for all butterfly species, milkweed is the only species on which Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs. Giant swallowtails need citrus plants and gulf fritillaries reproduce on passion vine. If you want to have lots of black swallowtails, include dill, fennel and or parsley in your garden. For a full list of the plants that are the favorite nesting sites of the many butterfly species that live in Central Texas, obtain a reference book such as Geyata Ajilvsgi’s “Butterfly Gardening for the South”.

Another way to learn what are the best butterfly plants is to visit the Milberger’s Certified Butterfly Garden. The garden includes the plants that attract and produce butterflies in our area in a setting to show how the plants can be arranged and maintained as part of an attractive landscape. A list of all the plants in the garden is available along with horticulturist Calvin Finch’s handout on butterfly gardening,

including his ideas on the use of pesticides consistent with increased butterflies in the landscape.

Hummingbirds obtain nectar from many of the same plants as butterflies but also seek out esperanza, Mexican honeysuckle, and cape honeysuckle. To bring the hummingbirds right on your sunny patio, plant a firebush in a container. Pentas work well in the shade. Supplement hummingbird plants with a sugar water feeder. Like the containers there is a large selection of feeders. They can be plain or very decorative. Mix the sugar water with one part of sugar to 4 parts of water or use a prepared mix from the Nursery.

Butterfly Gardens make a great Mother’s Day gift. Loving spouses and children can pick up the right plants for a family butterfly garden and have a wonderful family activity of planting them at your home.

Want to get started? Head to Milberger’s Nursery and let the planting begin!

Milberger’s Nursery 3920 N Loop 1604 E San Antonio, TX 78247


Written by Calvin Finch
Dr. Calvin Finch is the retired Urban Water Program Director for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.You can ask Calvin question and hear his answers on the air as he co-hosts the Gardening South Texas on the air at KLUP (AM 930) Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00pm.