Butterfly Garden



The butterfly garden, near the pond and adjacent to the Harrison Hall of Natural Science and Technology, is a joint project of the Roper Mountain Science Center, the roper Mountain Science Center Association, and the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners. It contains many varieties of plants that attract butterflies and bees, and is lovely during each season of the year.The Greater Greenville Master Gardeners maintain the butterfly garden at Roper Mountain Science Center. In 2002, it was certified a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat. This certification means that wildlife is provided food, shelter, water and a place to raise the young on these grounds.

Visitors may stroll through the butterfly garden during daylight hours when the center’s main gate is open.



What is a Butterfly Garden?

A butterfly garden is simply a garden with plant material that attracts butterflies. The general needs of butterflies are host plants and nectar plants. Host plants are the plants eaten by the caterpillar or larva of the butterfly. Each species of butterfly has a specific plant that the adult butterfly lays her eggs on and which the caterpillar will eat. Nectar plants are the food of the adult butterfly. They use a proboscis to sip nectar from the flowers of the plant. A butterfly garden also needs protection from the wind. Many butterflies like a damp spot or mud hole for puddling. Finally, butterflies like sunny areas and some rocks to rest on and soak up the sun.

Nectar plants include these butterfly magnets:

Host plants are the most important plants in the garden. Below is a list of common butterflies in our area and their host plant.



Host Plant

American lady

Anaphalis, cudweed, Antennaria

Black swallowtail

Fennel, parsley, rue, dill, Queen Ann’s Lace


Snapdragon, plantain, Linaria, Verbena

Cabbage white

Cabbage, Cleome, Nasturtium, mustard, Lunaria

Cloudless sulphur

Senna, Cassia, clover

Eastern Tailed Blue

legume family, clover, alfalfa

Falcate orange-tip

mustard family

Giant swallowtail

prickly ash, rue, citrus, hop trees

Gray hairstreak

mallow, hollyhock, legumes

Great spangled fritillary


Great purple hairstreak


Gulf fritillary


Long tailed skipper

legumes (pole bean, garden bean), wisteria


Asclepias species (milkweed)

Mourning cloak

willow, poplar, elm, nettle

Painted lady

thistle, hollyhock

Pearl crescent


Pipevine swallowtail

Aristolochia (pipevine), wild Ginger

Question Mark

hops, hackberry, nettle, elm

Red Admiral


Red-spotted purple

willow, poplar, plum, apple, aspen, cherry

Silver spotted skipper

locust, wisteria

Sleepy Orange

Cassia, senna, clover

Spicebush swallowtail

Lindera benzoin (spicebush), sassafras

Spring azure

dogwood blossoms, Viburnum, blueberry

Tiger swallowtail

wild cherry, poplar, willow, birch

Variegated fritillary

passion vine, violet

Zebra swallowtail

Asimina (paw paw)


Butterfly GardenTo see pictures and learn more about butterflies in our area, click on “Butterflies of North America” located at www.npwrc.usgs.gov. This site allows you to click on your state, and tells you what butterflies are there, and even narrows it down to the butterflies in your county.

We are very proud of our butterfly garden at Roper Mountain Science Center. Not only do we have beautiful flowers, but we have beautiful “flying flowers.”


A 402 Roper Mountain Road, Greenville, S.C. 29615   P 864.355.8900   F 864.355.8948