About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Butterfly Basics

Creating butterfly gardens is one of the most popular forms of gardening these days. Seeing beautiful butterflies drifting among the blooms in my own garden is very rewarding.

Luckily, creating a butterfly habitat is quite simple. With the right plants and a little know-how, it's easy to attract these flying beauties to your garden.

To attract butterflies to your garden you'll need . . .

~~ Nectar Sources ~~

Choosing a mix of nectar-rich blooming plants (both native and non-native) for the butterflies to feed on is essential. And, if you've ever spent any time watching butterflies in a garden, you'll notice that they prefer certain blooms over others. Add a good variety of of the following nectar-rich plants around your garden to ensure a plentiful supply of food year-round.

Annuals - Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), Asters*, Spider flower (Cleome hasslerana), Gazanias (Gazania spp.), Indian Blanket flower* (Gaillardia pulchella), Pentas (Pentas lanceolata), French marigold (Tagetes patula), Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), Zinnias (Zinnia spp.).

Perennials - Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendula), Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)*, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis), Swamp Sunflower* (Helianthus simulans), Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.), Kalanchoes (Kalanchoe spp.), Lantana (Lantana camara), Stoke's Aster* (Stokesia laevis), Salvia* (Salvia spp.)

Shrubs - Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), Powerpuff (Calliandra haematocephala), Firebush* (Hamelia patens), Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.), Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), Barbados Cherry *(Malpighia glabra), Plumbago (Plumabo auriculata), Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).

To keep the butterflies in your garden add a mix of . . .

~~Host Plants~~

To have a more dramatic increase in butterflies you'll want to add host plants (both native and non-native) for the butterflies to lay their eggs on, so that the caterpillars will have a food source when they hatch. By having host plants for future generations there won't be any need for the butterfly to leave your garden, so you'll be assured of future generations. Caterpillars have a voracious appetite, so don't skimp on host plants. And, by adding as many varieties as possible you'll attract more butterfly varieties.

Annuals - Dill (Anethum graveolens), Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), Mustard family (Brassica spp.), Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Parsley (Petroseliman crispum), Rue (Ruta graveolens).

Perennials - Milkweed*(Asclepias spp.), Aster* (Aster dumosus), Beach Verbena (Verbena maritima), Golden canna* (Canna flaccida), Beach sunflower* (Helianthus debilis), Florida native petunia* (Ruellia spp.).

Vines - Passionflower (Passiflora spp.), Corky-Stemmed Passionflower* (Passiflora suberosa), Pipe vine* (Aristolochia spp.)

Shrubs - Paw Paw (Asimina obovata)*, Cassia (Cassia spp,), Golden Dewdrop (Duranta repens)*, Firebush (Hamelia patens)*, Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.), Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera)*, Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), Viburnum (Viburnum spp.), Spanish bayonet (Yucca spp.), Coontie* (Zamia floridana).

Trees - Redbud* (Cercis canadensis), Citrus (Citrus spp.), Sweet Bay* (Magnolia virginiana), Red bay* (Persea spp.), Laurel oak* (Quercus laurifolia), Live oak *(Quercus virginiana), Hackberry or Sugarberry* (Celtis laevigata), Wild lime* (Zanthoxylum fagara).

Important Note -- These plants are food sources so expect to see leaf damage as the caterpillars need a lot of food to grow. Also, avoid using pesticides or chemicals on their food source!  

~~Other Welcome Ammenities~~ 

Create what's called a "puddling area." This is basically an unmulched area of dirt where butterflies can extract minerals from the ground when it's wet.

 Add a rock in the middle of a birdbath so that butterflies have a landing spot from which to drink water.

Plant additional shrubbery around your nectar and host plants for increased shelter from weather and predators.

Many experts think that grouping plants together by color (red, yellow, blue)  is beneficial in attracting more butterflies. Give it a try and let us know if it works for you.

 Tales from the Butterfly Garden - Lepcurious blog is a great resource to learn more about the butterflies that call Central Florida home and how to attract them.

Attracting butterflies is super easy and loads of fun! So, head on out to your local nursery with this plant list, and get started on creating your very own butterfly haven.

* Indicates native plant. You can buy native plants from local native nurseries, plant sales - especially local Master Gardener sales, plant swaps, seeds or cuttings from neighbors.


Jennette said...

I've got the "puddling area" complete! Now, I just have to work on the rest. Great post. Love to support those beautiful creatures!

Anonymous said...

I love posts like this - especially with links . . . because just when I think I have enough butterfly plants, I see a list and spot one I don't have. And you know what that means ~ yep, gotta have it. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for this wonderful and informative post. Years back the oldest of our 5 and I had a wonderful Monarch garden. We raised our little beauties and enjoyed the process so much. Now I shall plant a garden for the youngest 3 and I do enjoy!
Peace & Raw Health,

Susan said...

Hi Jennette...Sounds like you're off to a good start. Good luck!

Hi Eli...I know exactly what you mean. I made a list of a few I don't have either when I was researching this post.

Hi Elizabeth...Butterfly gardens are especially fun to do with kids. My daughter loves chasing the butterflies all around and identifying them.

daisy g said...

We just became certified as a butterfly habitat last year, although we've been hosting them for a few years. Thankfully, our garden is filled with these native and Florida-friendly species. It really does attract them!

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