Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Nature: Native Butterfly Attracting Plants (6)
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.

false vanilla leaf plants found native in FloridaVanilla Plant  (Carphephorus odoratissimus)-The vanilla plant is a composite plant of the southeastern U.S., having purplish flower heads and vanilla-scented leaves used to flavor tobacco. Pineland Purple or False Vanilla leaf is native to the Pine flatwoods, palmetto prairies and possibly open fields and scrubby areas across southern and south-central Florida, spreading up the Florida west coast to near Homosassa Springs in the central half of Florida. It is an excellent native flowering plant with beautiful smallish deep purple to lavender and possibly violet flowers in clusters and a thin stem. The vanilla plant is very beautiful as it seems to form seas of purple flowers stretching across palmetto prairies, poking up from the saw palmettos, with a widely spaced overstory of slash or longleaf pines, allowing a high-to- medium amount of sunlight through. Vanilla Plant is a great flowering native plant that often attracts pollinating insects or butterflies!

purple verbena attract butterfliesPurpletop Verbena (Verbena spp)*- Purpletop verbena is an erect, clump-forming perennial with stiff, widely branched stems. It can reach 3-6 feet in height with an open, airy spread of 1-3 feet.  The sandpapery stems and branches grow in an upright pattern and are square in cross section. Most of the leaves are clustered in a mounded rosette at the base of the plant. The relatively scarce stem leaves are opposite, 3-5 inches long and clasping (i.e. the leaves have no petioles and their bases wrap around the stem). The Verbena flowers are purple, a quarter-inch across, and born in rounded clusters about 2-3 inches across. Botanists call this type of inflorescence a cyme: a flower cluster in which the center flower opens first, and later-opening flowers are on the ends of lateral branches that arise from below the first flower. Purpletop verbena displays its showy flowers all summer long, until the first frost of autumn.

viburnum plant inflorida attracts butterfliesViburnum (Viburnum spp)- Besides having attractive foliage and growth habits, the best viburnums also offer lovely, sometimes even fragrant, flowers. Many also boast colorful fruits and stunning fall foliage. In addition, the fruits are appealing to birds and other wildlife. Viburnum is native to Florida, but their range extends to South America. They are admired for their foliage, flowers, and fruit. Most viburnums flower in spring. The sometimes-fragrant flowers range from white and cream to pink-flushed or wholly pink. They are born in terminal or axillary panicles, clusters, corymbs, or cymes, which are often spherical or domed. Some species have blooms similar to the flattened heads of lacecap hydrangeas. Viburnums are usually shrubs, but their habits vary. Viburnums excel as specimen plants or as anchors in mixed borders. You won't find a more versatile group of shrubs for hedges or for massing in groups, since viburnums hold their own in every season.

wild petunia plant in FloridaWild Petunia  (Ruellia spp)- Resembling the annual garden petunias, wild petunia produces a single five lobed, trumpet-shaped flower, that is1-2 inches long and wide, and emerging where each leaf joins the stem. Although it superficially resembles a garden petunia, which is in the potato family, wild petunia is a member of the Acanthus family, to which the cultivated “shrimp plant” and “Black-Eyed-Susan” also belong.  The flowers of wild petunia vary in color from pale lavender to medium bluish-purple.  On some plants the stems and the paired, egg-shaped leaves are hairy.  The plant grows 1-2 feet tall, although a little scraggly. Blooming June through September, the blossoms last only a day or two, but new flowers form in succession. The plant self-seeds, and new shoots can be seen throughout the garden from a single planting. Wild Petunias are easily transplanted.  Germination from seeds is low, but summer stem cuttings will root well.  This plant was named for an early French herbalist Jean Ruella.

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