Ever thought of starting your very own butterfly garden? What a nice family project this could be and now is a good time to do it. Butterflies are daytime visitors so you can always enjoy them while you're outside. Having a butterfly garden does involve planting certain but common plants to entice them into your yard.
We are lucky as out of the 760 species of butterflies that inhabit North America, 100 of them chose to live in Florida. Ever wondered how you tell a butterfly from a moth? A moth is active at night, has a fluffy antenna, and usually keeps it's wings open when feeding. It's just the opposite for a butterfly.
There are 4 stages to a butterfly's life. They start out as an egg which hatches to a caterpillar.......incidently, the caterpillar does nothing but eat and it eventually spins a chrysalis then after a period of time.....transforms itself to a beautiful, graceful butterfly that could be decorating your backyard.
Most Florida butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers. Some feed mainly on one flower while others want to taste a little of everything you have to offer. What seems to attract them most is an assortment of scented, brightly colored flowers and ones that allow the butterfly to land on and feel secure while it feeds. To keep them coming, be sure to keep flowers blooming year round. Favorites include phlox, butterfly bush, zinnias, red salvia, milkweed, cosmos, marigolds, daisies, coneflower and black-eyed Susan. There is a longer list below for different parts of Florida.
Some butterflies rarely visit flowers at all but are attracted to aphids, manure, rotting fruit, mud or tree sap.
This list contains a few more common and easy to find annuals, perennials and shrubs. You might discover that you already have some of them as part of your landscape.
For North and Central Florida:
- Shrubs include false heather, butterfly bush, hibiscus, lantana, plumbago, azalea and viburnum
- Perennials: sunflower, lobelia, mint, pentas, salvia, thyme, verbena, butterfly milkweed, purple and yellow coneflower, Stokes aster wild petunia and phlox.
- Annuals: Ageratum, shasta daisy, gaillardia, marigold, borage, strawflower, black-eyed Susan, clover and zinnia.
For South Florida:
- Shrubs and Trees: Bottlebrush, citrus, geiger tree, firebush, buttonbush and lantana.
- Perennials: Blue sage, pentas, pennyroyal, blazing star and scarlet milkweed.
- Annuals: Beggar ticks and frog fruit
There are many other butterfly attracting flowering plants that you can use and even some you might discover on your own. As we previously mentioned, make sure you keep flowers blooming in your yard as much as you can year round. Incidently butterflies totally ignore white flowers. They like flowers that are colorful, scented if possible and ones that they can easily land on while gathering nectar.