Among the benefits of gardening are the butterflies that are sometimes attracted to garden flowers. But what if the flowers you planted aren’t the ones butterflies like best? You don’t have to simply hope butterflies will like your garden: you can design it deliberately to entice them. UF/IFAS can show you how to make plain Jane yards into colorful butterfly gardens. And we’ll explain butterfly-safe gardening tips to keep butterflies healthy and coming back to your yard year after year.
Butterflies need both nectar plants and host plants. And these are not always the same plant! Often adults may sample nectar from many plants, but their larva are only able to consume food from a single one. Gulf fritillary butterflies and Florida’s state butterfly, the zebra longwing, for instance, lay eggs only on passionflower vine species. In south Florida, rare atala butterflies lay their eggs only on coontie plants. Successful butterfly gardens include a variety of plants to provide food and shelter for larvae and nectar for adults.
Essential Steps to Turn Landscape into Vibrant Habitat for Butterflies
The Ask IFAS publication Butterfly Gardening in Florida is a complete primer for butterfly gardeners. Tables of good butterfly plants for each region give you the best chance of success wherever you live in Florida.
Another Ask IFAS publication moves beyond individual butterfly gardens and explains “butterflyscaping,” or using Florida-Friendly techniques to create a haven for butterflies across a neighborhood or a even a whole town.
Ask IFAS for more on butterflies and the plants they love.