NABA South Texas


Butterfly Gardening
for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas




Butterfly Gardening for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas

Compiled by Gil Quintanilla and Mike Quinn

Contributors:   Diann Ballesteros, David & Jan Dauphin, Javier Deleon, Carol Goolsby, Martin Hagne, Maxine McClendon, Joshua Rose, Ellie Thompson, Cynthia Traylor, Ann Vacek, Frank Wiseman



Top Butterfly Nectar Flowers for Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Note:  First 20 Listed are "top" ones
native/alien* English Name Scientific Name Height Flower Color Bloom Season  Type  Butterflies Growing Hints/Other Comments
N betony mistflower Conoclinium betonicifolium 2' blue nearly all yr most all coastal area native, excellent year-round nectar
N crucita, mistflower Chromalaena odorata 6' blue fall most all superb fall nectar, needs space, trim back to 2' Jan/Feb
N Mexican wild olive, anacahuita Cordia boissieri 10'-20' white nearly all yr most all excellent
N Texas lantana Lantana urticoides 3'-4' red, orange & yellow nearly all yr most all proned to fungus/insects, needs pruning
N white brush Aloysia gratissima 8'-10' white nearly all yr many beautiful aromatic flower clusters
N Mexican buttonbush Cephalanthus salicifolius 8'-18' white spring-summer many excellent nectar, heat tolerant, grows in wet soil 
N velvet-leaf lantana Lantana velutina 4-6' white year-round many fast growth and hardy
alien duranta Duranta erecta 6-10' blue,white,purple spring-fall most all excellent, not freeze hardy
alien gregg's mistflower Eupatorium greggii 2' Bluish purple spring-fall queen, soldier native to central Texas, reseeds easily
N frogfruits Phyla strigulosa, incisa 10" white nearly all yr many, mostly small spp. excellent ground cover, needs plenty of room
N taperleaf heliotrope Heliotropium angiospermum 2' white nearly all yr many, mostly small spp. excellent, reseeds easily
N spring mistflower Eupatorium azureum 4' blue winter-spring many superb winter nectar when little else is blooming
N crotons Croton humilis, cortez 1-6' cream nearly all yr hairstreaks,  metalmarks excellent year-round nectar
N hairy wedelia, zexmenia Wedelia texana = W. hispida 2' yellow nearly all yr many excellent, showy, and drought tolerant
N white plumbago Plumbago scandens 3 1/2' white fall many tolerates shade; skin irritant;groundcover
N white mistflower Fleishmannia incarnata climbs to 6' white nearly all yr hairstreaks go easy on the watering
N  turk's cap Malvaviscus drummondii 5' red nearly all yr many shade tolerant, attracts hummingbirds
alien tropical (Mexican) milkweed Asclepias curassavica 3'-4' red&yellow spring-fall monarch, queen gorgeous flowers, native just south of Valley
N Mexican trixis Trixis inula 3-4' yellow nearly all yr many attractive, unarmed shrub, blooms through most of year 
N bush sunflower Simsia calva 3' yellow nearly all yr many excellent nectar and host, showy, and drought tolerant
N shrubby blue sage Salvia ballotiflora 5' bluish purple after rain many attractive ornamental, low water needs, nectar good to fair
N skeleton leaf daisy Viguera stenoloba 3' yellow spring-fall many dense shrub, needs full sun, unarmed, heat tolerant
*********** TOP 20
alien Mexican flamevine Senecio confusum climbs 8'+ orange nearly all yr many excellent, bright showy flowers
N scarlet sage Salvia coccinea 3' scarlet red after rain many tolerates shade, trim to 4" as needed
alien West India lantana Lantana camara 4' yellow/pink spring-fall many showy, excellent nectar source
N tube tongue Siphonoglossa pilosella 1' white/purple after rain checkerspots, crescents delicate groundcover, easy-care, spreads
N cowpen daisy Verbesina enceloides 4' yellow year-round many tolerates poor soils; reseeding annual
N heartleaf hibiscus Hibiscus martianus 2' red nearly all yr many good nectar and food plant
N tenaza Pithecellobium pallens 6-20' cream after rain swallowtails rapid upright growth; thorny trunk, light shade
N guajillo Acacia berlandieri 10-15' white/cream spring many excellent, armed with recurved prickles
N anacua Ehretia anacua 20'+ white spring-fall many excellent nectar blooms and berries
N aster, hierba de marrano Aster subulatus 2-4' bluish purple summer-fall many annual
N dakota vervain Glandularia bipinnatifida 10" purple spring-fall many beautiful ground cover
N golden rod Solidago spp. 7' yellow fall many not source of allergies
N horsemint Monarda spp. 1-3' white/pink spring-fall many tolerates dry conditions
N lippia, wild oregano Lippia alba,graveolens 1-2' reddish, white year-round many aggressive, spreads
N sweet stem Aloysia macrostachya to 12' pink spring-fall many, mostly small spp. showy, likes poor well-drained soils
N climbing milkweed Sarchostemma cyanchoides 6' white spring-fall many needs containing
N Texas thistle Cirsium texanum 3' purplish-pink spring-summer many prickly foliage; reseeding annual
N fiddlewood Citharexylum berlandieri 8'+ white spring many thornless shrub, easily gown
N palafoxia Palafoxia pink    spring-fall many adult nectar source
alien rose pavonia Pavonia lasiopetaia 3' pink    spring-fall many beautiful fresh flowers daily! native of central Texas
alien pride of Barbados Caesalpinia pulcherrima 10' orange, yellow summer-fall many showy, attracts large sulphurs and swallowtails
alien coral vine Antigonon leptopus climbs 10"+ pink    spring-fall most all excellent nectar, aggressive and needs containment
alien porterweed Stachytarpheta spp. 12'+ purple/red summer-fall many excellent nectar, drought-tolerant, self-sows freely


Top Caterpillar Food Plants Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Note:  First 10 Listed are "top" ones
Alien English Name Scientific Name Height Caterpillars Hints/comments
N blue passionvine Passiflora foetida vine gulf fritillary rapidly consumed by caterpillars
N corky stem passionvine Passiflora suberosa vine gulf fritillary, mexican silverspot robust vine that attracts large numbers of caterpillars
N cowpen daisy Verbesina encelioides 3' bordered patch very good nectar source
N turk's cap Malvaviscus drummondii 6' turk's-cap white-skipper tolerates shade; spreads, takes pruning
alien tropical (mexican) milkweed Asclepias curassavica 3'-4' monarch, queen native just south of LRGV, reseeds annually
N ruellia, wild petunia Ruellia nudiflora 1-2' malachite, white peacock fair nectar plant
N Texas torchwood Amyris texana 6' giant swallowtail plants in the citrus family are excellent foodplants
N Texas kidneywood Eysenhardtia texana 12' southern dogface samll tree with beautiful aromatic flower clusters
N sugar hackberry Celtis laevigata 30-50' emperors, snout large tree
N vasey adelia Adelia vaseyi 10' Mexican bluewing large shrub
N frogfruits Phyla strigulosa, incisa 10" white peacock,  nearly all year
N crotons Croton humilis, cortez 1-6' tropical,goatweed leafwings very good nectar source
alien guamuchil Pithecellobium dulce 20-30' red-bordered pixie, large orange sulphur large tree
alien guava Psidium guajava  6-25' guava skipper many cultivars
N heart-leaf hibiscus Hibiscus martianus 3-6' mallow-scrub-hairstreak, gray hairsttreak short-lived perennial
N Barbados cherry, manzanita Xylosma flexuosa 8' or less white-patched skipper,  hedge/shrub; attractive red fruit
N Texas baby bonnets Coursetia axillaris 5-7' southern dogface, Funereal Duskywing rare ornamental, thornless with dainty pink flowers
N prairie milkweed Asclepias oenotheroides 1-2' monarch and mimics fleshy root, tolerates poor soils
N white plumbago Plumbago scandens 3 1/2' marine blue, cassius blue tolerates shade; skin irritant;groundcover
alien flame acanthus Anisacanthus wrightii 3-5' crimson patch native to Edwards Plateau
TOP 20
N common sunflower Helianthus annulus 2' bordered patch annual
N saltbush Atriplex 2-4' western pygmy blue evergreen, silvery foliage makes a good contrast 
N stonecrop Sedum texanum <6" xami hairstreak rock gardens, rock walls, clay pots
N oreja de raton Bernradia myricaefolia 3-8' lacey's scrub-hairstreak thornless and good landscape plant
alien dill Anethum graveolens 2' black swallowtail easy to grow
N climbing milkweed Sarcostemma cynanchoides vine queen,soldier, monarch needs to be contained
N morning glory vine Ipoemoea vines 12' variegated fritillary wide choice of vines
N snapdragon vine Maurandya antirhinnifolia vine buckeye delicate beautiful vine
N mallows Abutilon spp various laviana white-skipper good adult nectar source
N dicleptera Dicliptera sexangularis 2' Texan crescent, crimson patch Aggressive, will spread and reseed easily
N balloon vine Cardiospermum halicacabum 10' silver-banded hairstreak trellises, hurricane fences, blankets prickly pear
N noseburn Tragia glanduligera vine red rim, common mestra stinging delicate vine; adaptable
N stinging nettle Urtica chamaedryoides <3' yellowish stinging hairs; forms colonies; seasonal
N colima, lime prickly ash Xanthoxylum fagara >7' sickle-winged skipper recurved abundant thorns; rampant growth
N clammy weed Polanisia dodecandra 3' great southern white annual that re-seeds itself
N Dutchman's breeches Thamnosma texana 1' black swallowtail likes full sun, low water requirement
N pipe vine Aristolochia marshii vine pipevine, polydamus swallowtail hardy
N spiny hackberry, granjeno Celtis pallida 8-10' American snout armed and lanky growth
N guayacan Guaiacum angustifolium 10' lyside sulphur slow growing
N barreta Helietta parviflolia 6'-12' giant swallowtail slender evergreen
N colima, lime prickly ash Zanthoxylum fagara 5-20' sickle-winged skipper,ornythion swallowtail evergreen heat-tolerant
Alien citrus spp. citrus 15' swallowtails many varieties widespread in the Rio Grande Valley
N retama Parkinsonia aculeata 25-30' Clench's greenstreak attractive yellow fowers
N tepeguaje Leucaena pulverulenta 20-30' mimosa yellow thornless, fast gowing and excellent shade tree
N Texas ebony Pithecelloblum flexicaule 30" white-angled sulphur, large orange large tree
N cenizo Leucophyllum frutescens 8' theona checkerspot drought and heat tolerant, excellent hedge plant
N senna Cassia alata 6" orange-barred sulphur, host for ceraunus blue and angled sulphurs
N water hyssop Bacopa monnieri 2-4" white peacock grows in wet soil and ponds
N pigeonberry Rivina humilis 2-4' white/pink spreads, red fruit clusters, evergreen
alien canna canna indica 2' braziian skipper varied colors and easy to grow
both grasses Poaceae various skippers and satyrs introduced grasses endanger native foodplants


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September 28, 2008 / NABA SoTx Home