Butterfly Gardening is one of the most enjoyable natural pastimes. A few plants to
attract natureís beauties are all thatís required. The best spot to plant a butterfly garden
is in an area that is sunny most of the day. If you only have shade, donít despair, there
are plants listed below to attract butterflies. In addition to the adult nectar sources, donít
neglect to plant caterpillar host plants. The caterpillar host plants will be eaten if youíre
successful in attracting the butterflies to lay their eggs.
In this partial list for NE Florida butterflies, the native plants are marked with *
and s= sun and sh=shade.
Dyschoriste oblongifolia/Twinflower* s
Ruellia caroliniensis/Wild Petunia* s-sh
Asimina parviflora and A. triloba/Pawpaw* s-sh
Anethum graveolens/Dill s
Daucus/Carrot or Queen Annís Lace s
Foeniculum vulgare/Fennel s
Petroselinum/Curly Parsley s
Aristolochia elegans, A. gigantea/Pipevine s
Asclepias tuberosa, A. incarnata/Milkweed s
Brassica/Cabbage or Mustard s
Canna flacida/Canna* s
Amorpha fruticosa/False Indigo* s-sh
Senna chapmanii/Cassia* s
Sassafras albidum* s
Lindera benzoin/Spicebush* s-sh
Liriodendron tulipifera/Tulip Tree* s
Magnolia virginiana/Sweetbay Magnolia* s-sh
Salvia ssp/Sages* s-sh
Cephalanthus occidentalis/Buttonbush* s
Althea rosea/Hollyhocks s
Hamelia patens/Firebush* s
Callirhoe papaver/Poppy Mallow* s-sh
Cercis Canadensis/Redbud* s
Passiflora incarnata/Passionflower Vine* s-sh
Passiflora suberosa/Corky-stemmed* s
Plumbago auriculata/Leadwort s-sh
Phoradendron serotinum/Mistletoe s-sh
Tripsacum dactyloides/Eastern Gamagrass* s-sh
Buddleia/Butterfly Bush s
Prunus serotina/Wild Cherry* s-sh
Citrus/Orange and other fruit s
Zanthoxylum clava herculis/Hercules Club* s-sh
Ptelea trifoliata/Wafer Ash or Hoptree* s-sh
Celtis laevigata/Hackberry* s
Lantana depressa* s
Vaccinium ssp/Blueberry* s-sh
Black & Pipevine Swallowtail
Queen & Monarch
Silver Spotted Skipper
Orange Barred Sulphur
Dusky Wing Skipper & White M Hairstreak
Zebra Longwing & Gulf Fritillary
Great Purple Hairstreak
Red Spotted Purple & Tiger Swallowtail
Great Southern White
Hackberry, Question Mark, Stout & Tawny Emperor
These plants are almost always available. Call the nursery at 904-388-9851 or click on this order form.
Florida Butterfly Gardening by Marc & Maria Minno
Floridaís Fabulous Butterflies by Dr. Thomas Emmel
Visit the butterfly exhibit at University of Florida, Gainesville.
Males are rapid fliers while females flutter close to the ground or around vegetation. Mated females spend much of their time looking for host plants on which to lay eggs. A host plant is one the caterpillars, once hatched, will eat for food. Females identify the proper host plant visually then double-check their choice through sensory organs in their feet. They usually lay their eggs on the undersides of young leaves to hide them.
Never spray chemicals, Pyrethrums or organic Bt in the butterfly garden area. Puddling in damp areas is done to obtain sodium and other salts by males to replenish their sperm package before they can mate again.
Butterflies are wonderful pollinators, not as good as bees, and may create a genetic link between far flung plants, because they travel long distances. The Spanish word for butterflies is Mariposa, French-Papillon, Vietnamese-Boom, Japanese-Cho-Cho and Irish-Faylicon.
Caterpillars go to great lengths to disguise themselves appearing as bird or lizard droppings (Giant Swallowtail); looking like a dead leaf (Swallowtails); sporting dull colors on their undersides. Some look like snakes (Spicebush Swallowtail) or have spots on their wings to confuse birds. The distasteful Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar is copied by the Black Swallowtail. The larvae of Skippers, some Swallowtails, and Hackberrys hide in curled or folded leaves. Some caterpillars will produce a honeydew that the ants will then protect. The Great Purple Hairstreak squeaks if bothered.
Things that kill butterflies are parasites, birds eat them, chemicals kill them in all stages of life. Insecticides and pesticides applied to lawns are very harmful to butterflies and other wildlife. Mosquito spraying
quickly kills butterflies, so if your County or Town has a mosquito control program, be sure to call and request that your yard not be sprayed.