Pollinator Gardening: Attracting Butterflies, Bees, & Other Beneficial Insects To Your Garden


Did you know that half of our global agriculture depends on wild insects to pollinate the crops?[1] Residential gardeners of the Richmond, Sugar Land, and Houston area will be doing their communities a great service by providing a happy habitat for birds and insects. Without pollinators, our flowers don’t bloom and our trees don’t fruit. A larger population of pollinators can also reduce the need for chemical insecticides[2]. Why not work with and support our local ecology when everyone benefits?

Gardening to attract pollinators is easy and a great way to get the whole family involved and outside. Children (and children-at-heart) love to experience the magic of watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly; it’s enough to inspire a life-long love of nature. Including host and nectar plants in your garden will guarantee metamorphosis miracles in every season! And remember, planting the right flowers won’t help unless you replace harmful chemical treatments with pollinator-friendly organic ones. Consult our Organic Gardening article for more information.


Host Plants

Host plants are the specific plants that caterpillars need to eat in order to be able to turn into butterflies. Below are our top choices for a variety of butterflies.

  • Black Swallowtail | Rue, Dill, Parsley, Fennel

  • Cloudless Sulphur | Sennas/Cassias

  • Giant Swallowtail | Citrus Family Plants (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc)

  • Gulf Fritillary | Passionvines, especially P. Caerulea (Blue Passionvine), P. Incarnata (Maypop), or hybrid Passiflora ‘Incense’

  • Monarch | Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias

  • Queen | Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias

  • Sulphur | Sennas/Cassias

  • Texas Crescent | Flame Acanthus, Shrimp Plant, Ruellia

Nectar Plants

Butterflies and bees need food sources to attract them to your garden. Some of our favorites are:

  • Mexican Heather (spring–fall)

  • Alyssum (winter–spring)

  • Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (fall)

  • Lantana (spring–fall)

  • Pentas (summer–fall)

  • Butterfly Bushes (perennial)

  • Borage—bees love blue flowers! (spring & fall)

  • Salvia (spring–fall)

Food & Shelter Plants



  • Autumn Sage

  • Bulbine

  • Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana

  • Coneflowers

  • Creeping Yellow Turnera

  • Cupheas

  • Firecracker Plant

  • Flame Acanthus

  • Four Nerve Daisy

  • Frogfruit

  • Georgia Savory

  • Gregg’s Mist Flower

  • Gulf Coast Penstemon

  • Hamelia/Firebush

  • Little Joe Pye Weed

  • Mexican Bush Sage

  • Mexican Heather

  • Native Fall Aster

  • New Gold Lantana

  • Stoke’s Aster

  • Pigeonberry

  • Porterweed

  • Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris)

  • Red Rocket Russelia

  • Yarrow

  • Scarlet Bouvardia

  • Shrimp Plant

  • Society Garlic

  • Texas Rock Rose

  • Trailing Purple Lantana

  • Turk’s Cap

  • Blue Mist Flower

  • White Wing Mussaenda

  • Winecup


  • Alyssum (cool weather)

  • Butterfly Weed (warm weather)

  • Calendulas (cool weather)

  • Celosia (warm weather)

  • Dianthus

  • Lobelia (cool weather)

  • Marigolds

  • Pansies (cool weather)

  • Petunias

  • Snapdragons (cool weather)

  • Stock

  • Violas (cool weather)

  • Winter Phlox (cool weather)Grasses for Shelter

  • Maiden Grass

  • Muhly Grass

  • Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass

  • Prairie Blue Little Bluestem

  • Purple Fountain Grass

Trees & Shrubs

  • Abelias

  • Almond Verbena

  • American Beautyberry

  • Butterfly Bush

  • Duranta

  • Dwarf Bottlebrush

  • Esperanza

  • Jatropha

  • Mexican Bauhinia

  • Plumbago

  • Pride of Barbados

  • Calliandra

  • Thryallis

  • Vitex


Pollinator Protection Checklist

❏    read and follow all pesticide directions and precautions

❏    determine if pesticides may be toxic to pollinators

❏    use an integrated pest management approach

❏    follow good pesticide stewardship practices at all times

❏    cooperate and communicate with others (ask questions)

❏    apply pesticides in the evening when pollinators are less active

Water Source

The Brazos River Bend area and Houston—nicknamed the Bayou City for Buffalo Bayou—is a natural wetland. The native and migratory wildlife (including pollinators) depend on these water sources to sustain their busy wanderings. If your residence is not situated by a natural water source, do them a great service and install an artificial one. Ponds, fountains, and birdbaths will keep wild birds and bugs buzzing, resulting in more flowers and fruit for you to enjoy!


Written by Ashley Grubb | Edited by Isabella Serimontrikul