Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Native Butterfly Attracting Plants (2)
Browse through our alphabetical list of native Florida plants that encourage butterflies into your garden, and find the perfect choices for your Florida butterfly garden! Plants that have an asterisk beside their name are especially high in nectar.

Florida's buttonbush, a butterfly favoriteButtonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)*- Buttonbush is a woody shrub, 3-10 feet tall, that occasionally grows into a small tree. It has shiny dark-green spear-or egg-shaped pointed leaves 3 to 6 inches long. The leaves are opposite or whorled in 3's or 4's along the stem. Flowers of buttonbush are easily identified by their greenish-white tube flowers in dense ball-shaped clusters about 1 inch in diameter. The long-lasting, unusual blossoms are white or pale-pink, one-inch globes. Subsequent rounded masses of nutlets persist through the winter. Seed heads are brown. Buttonbush is a handsome ornamental suited to wet soils and is also a honey plant. Ducks and other water birds and shorebirds consume the seeds. in it's native Florida environment, the buttonbush may be found in swamps, around ponds and margins of streams throughout the state. Buttonbush grows well in sand, loam, clay, limestone, and moist, poor drainage or standing water is okay with this butterfly attracting plant.

Though some in Florida consider clover a weed, butterflies are attracted to it's nectarClover (Trifolium spp)- Clovers, depending on species, may be annuals or perennials. Typically, clovers are fairly low-growing, herbaceous plants. The leaves are divided into three leaflets which are attached to the petiole at or near the same point. Blossoms usually occur in ball-like clusters (sometimes in clusters of just a few flowers) and may be pink, red, white, or yellow, depending on the clover species. In lawns, clovers can form dense patches, crowding out turfgrasses. They do not withstand traffic well. Clovers can also be desirable plants in lawns due to their nitrogen-fixing ability. Increases in clover may indicate soils are low in nitrogen. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the clover blossom. Clovers commonly grow in fields, meadows, and other sites on well-drained soils. They may be included in seed mixes for lawns, but are sometimes considered to be lawn weeds. Some species of adult butterflies which visit Red Clover flowers include: Monarch, Eastern Black Swallowtail Painted Lady, and Red Admiral.



lively blooming firebrush plant attracts butterflies in FloridaFirebush (Hamelia patens)- Firebush...the name says it all! This tropical shrub is known for two attributes. First, the plant shows colors that would make any blaze proud. And second, it's the only plant that I know which actually performs better the closer it gets to spontaneous combustion! Firebush is a showy, fast-growing, semi-woody evergreen shrub that can get up to 15 feet tall under ideal conditions, but usually stays much smaller. It has whorled leaves, usually with three but occasionally as many as seven at each node. The firebush hails from South Florida, the West Indies, and Central and South America. In its native habitat, Firebush is known more for its herbal properties than for its ornamental value. Throughout the year, firebush produces showy terminal clusters (cymes) of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers. Firebush is a valuable addition to butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and in south Florida is often planted in wildlife gardens with other native shrubs such as American beautyberry, coral bean and wild coffee. Firebush is salt tolerant and will grow in any kind of soil as long as it is well drained.

Bative Floridian plant, the golden rods is a great butterfly attractorGoldenrod (Solidago ordora)- Sweet goldenrod is native to the eastern United States, from Nova Scotia south to Florida and west to Arkansas and Texas. It occurs in sandhills, open xeric hammocks, and similar thin dry woodlands Goldenrod rapidly grows back in increased abundance after fire or site disturbance, so it often makes a showy display on a newly cleared site. Sweet goldenrod is often grown in wildflower gardens, meadows, and naturalistic borders. Sweet goldenrod is a perennial with 2-5 ft  stems arising from short rhizomes. The leaves of the goldenrod are 1-4 inches long and smell like licorice when crushed. In late summer, densely crowded golden-yellow flowers appear in branched clusters at the tops of the stems. The individual blossoms are arranged in rows along the upper sides of the flower head branchlets. Fuzzy pale gray seedheads containing tiny nutlets replace the blossoms later in the season. The leaves make a flavorful herbal tea. It is also used for a variety of medicinal purposes.


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