To create a habitat garden you begin with the researching the plants needed for your particular type of garden.

A good place to start to find a native plant list is the NWF’s Plant & Butterfly Finder.  It will tell you what plants are native to our area and how many butterflies are hosted by that plant or what butterflies are native to our area and what plants are needed to attract and host it.  Butterflies are important to our ecosystem providing pollination services and are also an important food source for the raising of baby birds.

Another good source is the Xerces Society’s Pollinator-Friendly Plant Lists for different regions around the country. For Collingswood choose the Northeast Region PDF List.

For example the main plant for Monarch Butterflies is Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Plant.  It is the host plant for food for the larval caterpillar and a nectar source for the grown butterfly.  It gets about 1′ to 2.5′ tall with orange flowers from June to August. It requires full sun and can take a drier area.  It does not like wet conditions.  If you have wet conditions use Asclepias syriaca – Swamp Milkweed.  It gets to be about 4′-5′ tall.  There are a number of milkweeds that come in a variety of heights.  Here’s an NWF list of Twelve Native Milkweeds for Monarchs.

It is important to attract butterflies and other insects to your garden.  One example of why this is important is the case of the Carolina Chicadee taken from the NWF’s blog post from Laura Tangley.

“During the breeding season, Carolina chickadees and other birds need a lot of insects—in the case of chickadees, more than 5,000 (caterpillars) per clutch of hatchlings. Contrary to popular belief, “most birds do not reproduce on berries and seeds,” explains Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware and one of Narango’s advisors. “Ninety-six percent of terrestrial birds rear their young on insects.””

Below is a small sampling of native perennials and trees and how many species of Lepadoptera that they host that was taken from the research of Dr. Douglas Tallamy, who has partnered with the NWF to provide his research data for use in the NWF’s Plant & Butterfly Finder.  Different plants host different species of butterflies, birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.  These plants can work in a sunny location with average soil conditions.  There are many more to choose from.  Please remember that every plant has its own soil, sunlight, & moisture conditions necessary for it to survive.  Research each plants requirements so that it will survive in your garden.

Common Name       /     Latin Name Genus    /     Number of Butterflies (Lepadoptera) species supported (From Dr. Douglas Tallamy’s research)


Goldenrod Solidago 115
Asters Aster 112
Sunflowers Helianthus 73
Joe Pye, Boneset Eupatorium 42
Lupine Lupinus 33
Violets Viola 29

Woody Plants: (trees)

Oak Quercus 534
Black Cherry Prunus 456
Willow Salix 455
Birch Betula 413
Poplar Populus 368
Crabapple Malus 311