This spring, take the next step to protect our beneficial pollinators by planting host plants! Many sustainability-minded folks already know how important Milkweed is to Monarchs. But why is it so important? It is a great nectar source but its real impact is as a host plant. Host plants are food sources for the larvae of our pollinators – the caterpillars of our butterflies and moths. The most obvious importance of happily fed caterpillars is that they can then metamorphose into the beautiful butterflies we invite into our garden. But a second, very important, role of caterpillars is as bird food. 80% of birds feed their young almost exclusively caterpillars! Without happily fed caterpillars we won’t have the beautiful diversity of birds in our backyards.
So, what are some good host plants you can plant in your yard?
One thing to remember when planting host plants is that the goal for planting these plants is we want them to be food. So, you will have to embrace some plants with imperfect foliage or place them somewhere in your yard where some munched-on leaves won’t be noticed or bother you.
There are lots of great sources out there that let you know exactly what plants to plant for various butterflies and moths. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Article written by: Rebecca Eisele, Landscape Designer
Rebecca is our Landscape Design extraordinaire. She is current acting Vice President of the Landscape Nursery Association of Greater St. Louis and is an inaugural Board Member of the Missouri Green Industry Alliance. Is is also active with Grow Native!, a plant education program of the Missouri Prairie Foundation.
For additional reading – Help Bring Back Pollinators, published in our blog in Spring, 2017.