Attract Butterflies to your
Fences, Arbors, and Trellises
Since trellises and arbors add space, think of these garden structures as bonus opportunities for attracting other pollinators…butterfly vines can also add more beauty and fragrance to your surroundings.
Some of your options are host plants for caterpillars, which could potentially leave an arbor or trellis naked by seasons end. If this is an issue, try a nectar vine option instead.
If you are new to vertical gardening and find yourself arborless/trellisless, you’ll want to find a suitable option to place in your yard or garden. You have plenty of good options to choose from:
Your first two options are host plants for pipevine swallowtails. Many of the non-native species of this plant that are poisonous to the caterpillars so make sure you’re purchasing one of the non-toxic varieties listed below:
1. Aristolochia durior or macrophylla (Dutchman’s pipe)
This species of pipe can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4a-8b. The heart shaped green foliage fills trellises and arbors growing up to 20 feet high and 15 feet wide.
2. Aristolochia tomentosa (wooly pipevine)
This species of pipe can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5a-8b. This native vine blooms profusely each spring and offers up lots of succulent leaves for the pipevine caterpillars. This climbing giant can get up to 30 feet high.
3. Passiflora incarnata Passion Flower
This hardy passionflower vine is hardy to zone 5a…I would mulch well in colder zones to insure survival. This plant can potentially be invasive if not kept in check. In zone 5a, we overwinter our plant indoors by a south facing window. It is a vigorous grower, even in our northern garden.
note: this passionflower is a host plant for both Gulf and Variegated fritillary butterflies, Julia, and Zebra Longwing
4. Pseudogynoxus chenopodioides (Mexican flame vine)
This is probably the nectar butterfly vine for attracting monarchs. It can only be grown as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, but it can be overwintered in colder regions. This climbing flower attracts monarchs, queens, sulphurs, and gulf frits. It blooms the entire summer.
5. Cynanchum laeve (honeyvine milkweed)
This native milkweed vine can be grown in hardiness zones 4a-9b. It’s also the only vine that has been regularly reported as a monarch host plant. That being said, many have reported it to be highly invasive. I haven’t personally grown this, but would suggest trying it in a pot, and cutting off all seed pods before they burst open in fall.
There are milkweed varieties that are better options if you prefer less invasive butterfly plants.
Check out our resources page for more climbing plants supplies.