Pollinator Gardening

Promoting Pollinators: Gardens for Butterflies and Native Plants

Creating Pesticide-Free Habitats to Support Pollinators and Wildlife

Discover two vibrant gardens on the museum grounds that showcase the importance of pollinators and native plants. The Community Science Garden, located near the Cockrell Butterfly Center, provides a haven for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators with nectar plants and host plants for caterpillars. The 9 Natives Showcase Garden, sponsored by the Coastal Prairie Conservancy, highlights the value of native plants in supporting pollinators and the prairie landscape. By incorporating native plants, you can create sustainable, low-maintenance gardens that offer year-round beauty and provide essential food and shelter for birds, bees, and butterflies. Help preserve our environment and enjoy the colorful benefits of butterfly gardening and native plant landscaping.

Butterfly gardening helps the critical environmental process of pollination. Keeping butterflies and other pollinators in mind when selecting plants for your beds or patio containers provides a pesticide-free habitat which is declining in urban areas.
Community Science Garden
This garden can be found next to the Cockrell Butterfly Center on the museum grounds alongside the Hermann Park Dr. entrance to the museum. This garden demonstrates an example of a pollinator and wildlife friendly outdoor space. Nectar plants provide food for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinating animals. Host plants attract species-specific butterflies to lay their eggs and then provide food for the newly hatched caterpillars. Shelter and water sources are also key components for successful pollinator gardens.
9 Natives Showcase Garden
This garden can be found on the museum grounds behind the Cockrell Butterfly Center along San Jacinto St. Sponsored by the Coastal Prairie Conservancy, the 9 Natives program helps to promote the value of native plants to pollinators, and how these native plants are part of the important prairie landscape. There are so many great reasons to incorporate native plants into your yard or garden. They are hardy and can survive local extremes of heat or cold, drought, and wind. Once established, native plants usually require little or no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to many pests and diseases so you will not need pesticides or herbicides. Native plants when mixed together can provide year-round color and beauty, and provide food and homes for the birds, bees, and butterflies.
Plant Sales
Pollinator plants propagated by the Cockrell Butterfly Center are available for sale in the Museum Store during store hours. Exotic house plants and wildflower seed mixes are also occasionally available.
Pollinator Resources

  • Attracting Native Pollinators: Published by the Xerces Society in 2011, this book serves as a comprehensive guide for improving habitat for native pollinators and offers a tangible way for people to make a difference in earth stewardship.

  • The Bees in Your Backyard: Written by Joseph Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril in 2016, this book provides a detailed guide to North America’s native bees and how to support them through habitat and food. 

  • Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas: Authored by John and Gloria Tveten, this book is the go-to guide for understanding butterflies in the Houston area, covering life stages, habitat, and adult nectar preferences. 

  • Life Cycles of Butterflies: By Judy Burris and Wayne Richards, published in 2006, this book features stunning photographs of all life stages of 23 common garden butterflies. 

  • iNaturalist: A joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, iNaturalist is a popular nature app that helps you identify plants and animals. Connect with a community of scientists and naturalists to deepen your understanding of nature. Your observations contribute to research-quality data.
    Visit iNaturalist

  • The Pollinator Partnership: This nonprofit focuses on education and actions that benefit native pollinators, especially bees. The website also links to numerous other resources.
    Visit The Pollinator Partnership

  • Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center: Offers an extensive database on native plant species and comprehensive information on pollinator gardening, local plant sources, and more.
    Visit Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

  • Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston Chapter: Features a PDF guide on species of wildflowers, grasses, and ferns native to the Texas area.
    Visit Native Plant Society of Texas

  • Native American Seed: A reliable source for seeds of plants native to the Texas/Oklahoma region.
    Visit Native American Seed

  • Monarch Watch: A nonprofit organization monitoring monarch butterfly migration. Provides information on the health of the monarch population and actions you can take to help. Also sells native milkweed plugs and provides tags for tagging fall migrant monarchs.
    Visit Monarch Watch