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 ~~
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 . . .
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.