Black Swallowtail Host Plants

What to Plant for the Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail Host Plants-black-swallowtail-caterpillar
A black swallowtail caterpillar

The eastern black swallowtail butterfly is popular among other species of butterflies being admired for its beauty, when seeking to attract the black swallowtail butterfly to our gardens one of the key elements is to plant what they love because it’s the black swallowtail host plants that will attract them like a magnet. The plants that are chosen however should be divided into 2 categories, one group of plants should be installed for the adult or parent butterfly while the other group consists of plants that the larva (black swallowtail) feeds on.

Other names of the black swallowtail butterfly

There are other common names that the black swallowtail butterfly goes by, these other names are as followed.

  • Celeryworm
  • American swallowtail
  • Parsley swallowtail
  • Caraway worm
  • Black swallowtail
  • Parsnip swallowtail

How much food does the black swallowtail caterpillar consume

The black swallowtail caterpillar has a huge appetite and will continue to eat and morph for about 10 months.

Names of the black swallowtail adult host plants

1. Milkweed Care-Milkweed is grown as a perennial and grows to heights of 1-3 feet, 3-8 feet with a width of 1-3 feet. Milkweed performs best in the full sun and prefers a soil that’s well-drained but can tolerate poor dry conditions also clay soils. Milkweed color blooms include pink, orange, purple, green, and yellow.

2. Phlox Care-Phlox can be grown as annuals or perennials with a height of 2-4 feet tall and a spread of 2-3. Phlox prefers sunny locations, with well-drained soil that’s moist, before planting if the soil doesn’t manage water well then work in some compost. The flower bloom of phlox ranges from purple, red, white, orange, pink, and lavender.

3. Clover-The clover plant can either be annuals or perennials growing from 4 to 6 inches tall with a spread of 12 inches or more.  When installing in an outdoor garden clover thrives best in a location that gets the full sun, with a soil type that’s well-drained, loamy, and sandy. The soil Ph should be acidic, flower bloom can either be yellow, pink, red, or white.

4. Thistles-Thistles are considered to be annual to biennial in growth form and grows to a height of 3-10 feet and a width of 1-2 inches. Thistles love the full sun although they can withstand the partial shade, with soils that are moderately acidic, a dry, shallow, or rocky soil is ideal. The flower bloom of this plant is blue, white, and purple.

5. Caraway-Caraway is a biennial that produces carrot-like leaves the first year and flower heads and seeds the second year. Caraway can reach a height of just under 6-inches and 18 inches wide growing best in the full light along with a well-drain soil with a pH range from 6.5 to 7.0. the flower bloom is white.

6. Zinnias-Zinnias can either be grown as annuals or perennials reaching heights of 1 to 3 feet 3 to 8 feet and grows well in full sunlight with well-drained soil and a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. The flower color can either be purple, yellow, orange, or pink.

7. Mexican sunflower-Mexican sunflowers are herbaceous perennials that grow from 3 to 8 feet in height with a width of  2 to 3 feet, Mexican sunflowers love full sun exposure with an average to poor soil type and an acidic pH of  5.8 t0 6.5. Flower blooms range from orange, yellow, or red.

Names of the black swallowtail larva plants

1. Parsnip-Parsnip is a rooted vegetable closely related to parsley and carrots, this biennial is usually grown as an annual and reaches heights of  6 t0 12 inches, 1 to 3 feet, and 6 t0 12 inches wide. To grow their best parsnip loves the full sun, sandy, clay, or moist soil that’s well-drained, slightly acidic, or neutral. The color of parsnip is a mixture of orange and yellow.

2. Celery-Celery is considered a hardy biennial but is grown as an annual, celery can reach a height of 15 to 18 inches with a spread of 8 t0 12 inches. Celery requires full sun but will thrive in partial shade along with growing in soil that is rich in compost. A growing celery plant needs plenty of water so ensure that the soil is kept evenly moist.

3. Carrots-Carrots are classified as biennials growing 12 inches with a spread of 12 t0 24 inches requiring full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade, carrots survive in soils that are loamy and sandy, the soil pH should be neutral.

4. Dill-Dill is a perennial herb that can reach 2 to 4 feet at maturity with a spread of 2 to 3  feet, dill requires full sun, with a soil type that’s sandy, clay, loamy and chalky with a soil pH that’s neutral.  The soil should be well-drained soil that can hold moisture, the color flower bloom is yellow.

5. Queen Anne’s lace-Queen Anne’s lace is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant, that grows 3 t0 4 feet in height with a spread of 1 t0 2 inches. Queen Anne’s lace enjoys the full sunlight with well-drained soil and a pH of 5.5 to 7.0, the flower bloom can be either dark purple or creamy-white.

The final word on the black swallowtail host plants

This guide on choices of plants will ensure that you have much success with the black swallowtail butterfly, make your garden a magnet that will attract these garden beauties. You will be so happy that you did as your garden comes to life with much activity as you watch the black swallowtail in their natural habitat. If you are interested then let’s get started as your garden becomes a show stopper and the talk of the neighborhood.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

5 thoughts on “Black Swallowtail Host Plants”

  1. Hello Norman, 

    I was wandering around the internet just looking through gardening tips. It is the season, we are already canning green beans and enjoying some fried zucchini. 

    I happened upon your post on planting specific “host plants” for butterflies. I have noticed we have some native plants in our area that the butterflies really like. I never really gave it much thought if I were to plant more of them I would have more butterflies!

    This is a really cool idea and I wanted to thank you for sharing this!


    • Hello Chad, I am so happy to help and it is good to hear that you are enjoying and reaping the rewards of your hardwork. Wishing you great success and happy gardening!

  2. Greetings Norman,
    This educational post piqued my interest as someone who appreciates the beauty of nature. It is worthwhile to make one’s garden pleasant and beautiful. Black Swallowtail butterflies that turn into caterpillars will make a beautiful sight to behold, and this content-rich article you’ve posted indicates that they reproduce quickly. My main concern is, will they will not feed on the plants till they become strange and disorganized?


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