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Butterfly Host Plant Seed Exchange? Anyone interested?!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, everybody--

Recently there has been high interest in attracting Monarchs and other butterflies into the garden and this Question has come up on several Forums and threads:

Why not have a Butterfly Host Plant Seed Exchange or Round Robin or Seed Fund?

This would make available seeds from milkweeds, herbs, passion vine, pipevine, and a variety of butterfly host plants (ready to harvest from our gardens) to newbie and wannabe BF gardeners or to those who want to supplement the flower offerings already on their 'butterfly buffet'.

Is anyone else interested in participating? [Even if you don't have anything to 'exchange' right now I am sure there are gardeners who would like to send milkweed seeds to those who are interested in starting out---with the idea that you will pass along your seeds to others later]

I am primarily interested in focussing on Butterfly Host Plant Seeds for the first exchange. And to broaden it to nectar plants later on.

If there is enough interest, perhaps we can nominate an organizer--(I can help but I do not have enough experience to actually do it.)

If you have thought/interest/suggestions let's hear what you think! LMK Thanks. t.

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Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

To get started, here is a (partial) list of common Butterfly Host Plants that you may have in your garden and that may be of interest to others....

Jeffersonville, IN(Zone 6b)

That's an excellent idea!! Actually, I don't have any experience hosting butterflies, but I've got a lot of seeds together to do so for next year.
I can help too, but as far as organization, I don't think I'd do a good job at it -- this year anyway.

I've got some milkweed seeds from the spring, and should get more from the fall if the aphids don't destroy the buds. I've tried several times to grow citrus plants from seeds, but they always succumb to sometime or other before they get very tall. Anyone have any luck growing citrus from seed?


Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Hey T!
Tag!! Can you be "it" for now? None of us actually know everything about hosting butterflies, it takes all of us together and we learn from each other and from our own planting and observing. There's so much I don't know yet too. You seem to be a very organized kind of person, and that's more important than the specific knowledge. There will always be someone to chime in on a thread and offer what they know, I know a few that are awesome about doing that. Will, inspiration, and organization were the only tools and talent most successful endeavors began with. Good starting reference site T! and I will be posting this Thread link in the other forums I visit.

Gtsy Mark, I hope your fal crop of MW seed comes through, we will have plenty of people here to share those with. Thanks~!

Nice to see you too Lily! You sound like me, preparing for next year and everything. My experience has so far been hosting BST, and GF, and still have so much to learn and so many plants to plant.

Cheers to all!
This GF was laying eggs on my passionvines today, and then stopped on the Asclepia Tuberosa to rest for a few seconds.

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Wheatfield, NY(Zone 6a)

I'm one of those newbie/wannabe's. I just planted my first Asclepias incarnata 'Cinderella'. it was kind of a sad looking sale plant. and a very kind DG member has already send me some A. incarnata 'Soulmate' for wintersowing. so that's a start. I wish I could at least volunteer to help organize, but I'm working 12 hour days right now on a big project. but I did want to speak up and express interest and tell you what a great idea it is, even though I have nothing to contribute at this time.

I've got plans for zinnias and parsley. long term I have a spot picked out for spicebush. I've planted a few lupines, and have seed for hollyhocks also from some other DGer's

Still working on expanding the kinds of nectar plants I offer, too. got a lot of these pretty little clouded sulphurs on the asters these days.

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Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I am putting this thread on 'watch'. I don't know that I have much to offer other than MW and mist flower, but I am definately interested.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm interested but not sure how the seed exchanges work. I don't see why we need anyone to organize anything tho and don't want to "force" it on Tabasco either. Shouldn't we all be able to just handle our own wants/needs??

The host plants are going to vary by region, depending on what you are wanting to host. I have things for the butterflies that I know are in my area: Black Swallowtails, Monarchs and Queens, Sulphurs and a few others.

The problem with host plants too is getting seed from them. Currently I have a ton of milkweed pods that could supply us all but that depends on how many of them survive the late Monarch broods. My fennel seeds are the favorite part for the late BST broods. My rue has never been able to produce seeds because I cut it back. I have had some seeds from a friend's tho and I never got them to germinate. These are just my "problems".

Milkweed is probably the most wanted and easiest to save so maybe we could have a good variety of it to share. I'm still trying to get some Pipevine (couldn't get seeds to grow) and praying my Spicebush seedling that was sent to me survives.

So...maybe we should just ask: What host plants to you want? have?

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Good points, all--

Just to clarify--LOL I am not organized but that might be OK.

To start with we can encourage everyone to study the lists of larval host plants (google for those specific to your area if the link above doesn't suit you) and to harvest seeds from your local BF host plants. Also it helps to learn to identify the plants and common butterflies around you (in your parks, neighbors yards, etc.) if you haven't already.

Also check your seed box for seed packets that you won't be able to use that someone else may want.

We could also include "cuttings" of those vines and plants that are difficult to start from seed. (but I don't know much about how to take or grow from cuttings.)

(If there are questions about the best way to collect seeds/cuttings, I am sure there are answers on the propagation forum or other web sites ) (I'm just learning about seed collecting too.)

Yes, konkreteb., it looks like all we have to do is get the word out to DGers on other forums who may be interested in swapping seeds or getting a BF garden going, and invite them to a dedicated Swap Thread to post "haves & wants" and everyone can take care of sending out their own labeled seed packets for trade or postage or just for fun. That way we will have lots of participation and very little 'work' to be done. If that suits everyone I can handle that alright.

Experienced or in-experienced, new or not new to BFs, this way we can all improve our butterfly knowledge and habitats and have fun doing it together!

So, start looking around for ripening host plant seed pods and/or read the "seed collecting" info and get started harvesting, and I will post the Swap Thread probably next week after everyone's had a chance to think through and inqiure on other forums what they might want and what seeds they have to send out over the next couple of months or add any other comments.

Have fun. t.

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The Villages, FL(Zone 9a)

I have milkweed seed and need parsley, fennel, spicebush. Karen

Marlton, NJ

Hi Everyone, I don't think I have any seeds to exchange since this is all new to me but I would be very grateful to receive seeds for postage if anyone had extras. Once I would get some plants growing I would be happy to pass some of mine along too. Thank You, Pelle from NJ

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Wait...we are just discussing it right now, correct? We are actually going to start a new thread for wants/needs, right?

The Villages, FL(Zone 9a)

Sure, and I don't need fennel, I forgot that I got some. Karen

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

I just didn't want anyone to request and then it get lost on this thread. How does your fennel do down there Karen? Do you grow green or bronze? I've grown both and the bronze always gets covered in aphids by late summer.

The Villages, FL(Zone 9a)

Bronze and the black swallowtails gorge on it until it is gone but it regrows nicely. Karen

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

No aphids on your bronze? Maybe we're too dry here. Does it stay pretty small? I had some green fennel one year that was about 4 ft tall!

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, I would love any leftover seeds that growers may have like milkweed for our new garden. We have started our garden to attract butterflies and hummers. My kids just loved the butterflies and hummers this summer. So far we only have a couple butterfly bushes and blue mist plants. I'll look for the thread when its posted. I still need to get educated as to the types and names of b.f's in our area. Thanks! Flowerlou

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Dear Flowerlou,

Congratulations that you want to learn more about butterflies. You have come to the right forum, that is for sure. I have been butterfly gardening for about three years now and am learning more all the time. You know, this is just a suggestion but if you can, go to your local public library. They will tell you which butterfly books are available for your area. If you are serious about learning the names of butterflies, buy the book that is most helpful to you. This has helped me a lot. I have a butterfly book that covers Western North America. It not only tells the location in the West the butterflies are found but what their nectar plant sources are and their larval host plants.

Good luck and have fun. Over the years, my kids have been excited about the butterflies and hummingbirds. Now it is the neighbors and their children.



(Maggie) Jacksonvill, FL(Zone 9a)

I'd be happy to trade for something I don't have or send for postage of things I've lots of. I've plenty of tropical milkweed seeds and more coming. I have ripening Cassia Alata pods and winter cassia that hasn't bloomed yet.We might even be able to try cuttings which would be nice for named varieties.

Paige- the cutting you sent is doing great!


(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

I would be interested. Especially for some different things.

(Zone 7a)

Tabasco lured me over here - wonderful idea - count me in. I'll bet folks in the Organic forum (I think there's one here) would be interested. Caitlin was asking if anyone gardened without pesticides some time back, will give her a buzz.

Luvsgrtdanes, I've not forgotten our thread in MG - will visit there in a bit - have been busy cleaning and sorting those blues.

Cincinnati, OH

Tobasco was a wonderful "host" for this forum/thread!!!! She lured me here too. I am in for this. I saw here amazing BF garden yesterday and I about fainted from all the beauty and butterflies. (bees, too LOL) I am quite ready to have a full blown butterfly garden!! I am wintersowing this year for the first time and I know what I am going to focus on!! Thanks, T for the new addiction! Did you know you were an enabler? HaHa.


Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6a)

Thanks Chuck, I am heading to the library later this week. It will be fun learning with the kids. Have a great day. Flowerlou

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

LOL You guys are too funny!

Well, I hope everybody is collecting seeds! kaykay and I went exploring around my yard yesterday and at the nursery. She taught me how to take some cuttings and we collected a few seeds but not enough for everyone who seems interested! It was a fun visit! .... (And kaykay I'm happy you liked my BF garden even though it is looking rather shaggy....when you visit next time I will take you to our Monarch meadow in the park behind us!) And if anyone else is in town, please LMK.

So...moral of the story is--when you go out on your errands and walks this month, take your scissors and your baggies and be alert to any 'opportunities' to complete our BF host plant seed collections! And don't forget to label!

Kaykay and I were laughing yesterday about Weezingreens 'Seedsnatchin' threads and if you haven't glanced at them they will give you some good tips on how to maximize your opportunities!

Somewhere in one of her threads she talks about her basic seed collecting box/basket of equipment that she keeps in her SUV ---always ready-- and I thought the info was invaluable.

Beautiful day here. Lots of butterflies out.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Just to continue the above thoughts-- (now you've got me going on the host plants!)

Does anyone have a nice willow to get some cuttings going? A paw paw? mmm...what else?...does 'citrus' grow from cuttings?.

While I naturally think of MW as a host plant, can't forget seeds for hollyhock, malva, grasses, nettles, sunflowers, cabbages various, mustards, parsley, dill, thistle, toadflax, snapdragons, passionflower, violets, paw paw, and hops. Just a a partial list to jog minds/memories...and to get set on collecting. (while all of the above may not be the best for your garden (some are kind of weedy), odds are they may be perfect for someone else's patch of earth

Here's a nice page on Southern Butterfly gardening with pics and host plants:

When we get going on the Want/need thread next week I will link it to this thread so everybody finds out.

Covington, LA(Zone 8b)

What a great idea - please count me in! My first year butterfly gardening and raising butterflies, but I'm hooked.

I only have some milkweed seeds someone on DG was kind enough to send me, but next year I should have plenty to share. And maybe cuttings from my passionflower vine, if they root from cuttings.


Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Great, budbloom, cuttings may work. Maybe you could post over on the Vines forum and ask about cuttings for passion vines and tell them we over at the BF forum want to know for our trade (maybe they already have extra passion vines they want good homes for).

For those who want a more extensive and detailed list of Butterfly Host Plants, here is a link to one in my diary:

Some of these are pretty common shrubs and flowers and may be available for seed collection in your neighborhood.

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Perris, CA(Zone 9a)


You have gone to a lot of time and effort to prepare this list of larval host plants. It is very good and we all should tell you how much we appreciate it.



(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks so much. I didn't realize how many seeds I have!

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Chuck, that list came from another website (GW)and was compiled by a lot of members input. Larry Gene compiled it and organized it into what you see. Just wanted to give credit to where it's due. I know Tabasco does too. :)

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks, konkreteblond, for setting me straight.

No wonder that the list was so complete. LOL

Tobasco, you still have my vote as our leader in the new seed exchange.

Thanks again,


Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Sorry, didn't mean to leave the impression that that I created the list on the diary page, but thanks for the thought, C.B. I credited Larry G. and GW for the 'copy and paste' of the list in the heading of the entry. Sometimes electronic protocol can be a little hazy.

Larry's is quite an exhaustive list and it's very interesting to review the range of plants and how often they occur close to home in gardens and roadsides. And then to learn the plants' oviposting butterfly visitors.

For me, now, it's a matter of circling the butterflies on the list that are common in our area and figuring out if we already have the host plants around our neighborhood and/or if I can grow them in our 'yarden' somewhere.

If you click on your state on this link's map it will bring up a list of local butterflies for you along with details (including host plants) about them.

Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

Oh,, just "skimmered" through thread. Tabasco lured me over here.... I would love to get some seeds for postage, and I am going over to the power lines tomorrow where a lot of wildflowers are growing.. I have passion vines from wild ones in Florida. the caterpillars of mm think it is monarch butterflies love them. Maybe I can get some seeds... Just remembered that I transplanted some wild flowers from neighbor's yard. The swallowtails were all over them last year. Have to take picture and water them. BTW, the swallowtails also love my azaleas,,, I figure they are just "pruning" them..this was last spring. Elaine

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Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi,, is that a swallowtail??? I was corrected last year.. Here is caterpillar (loves my azaleas)

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Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

And what wildflower is this if anyone knows?? Thank you, Elaine

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Dover, DE(Zone 7a)

count me in I have some rue seeds from this year. I made the mistake of clipping my milkweed pods early to keep them from getting out of control. my milkweed is wild like in farm fields

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Tabasco, you are sounding way too organized to be claiming that you aren't! ;) You are doing a great job of getting others interested interested in this!

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

I have passiflora incarnata passion fruit.
I have the fruit in my garage and if anyone asks for it, I can take the seeds out. It is very messy and I don't want to get the seeds out unless someone is interested in trading.
I would like to get some of the other host plant seeds for swallowtail butterflies. The gulf fritillary lay eggs on this passiflora.

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

I have:

red clover
fennel (smokey bronze)
Mexican Torch Sunflower
(more of some than others)

I would like to get some penta seeds (edited to remove ones now traded for)

I know we're just 'fleshing out' the swapping but I thought I'd throw my trowel into the ring ;)


This message was edited Oct 6, 2006 11:38 AM

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Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Deleted due to duplicate posting!

This message was edited Oct 5, 2006 11:04 PM

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