Attracting Butterflies To Your Miami Garden – The 16 Best Butterfly Attracting Plants For South Florida

Attracting Butterflies To Your Miami Garden – The 16 Best Butterfly Attracting Plants For South Florida

Butterfly gardens are easy to create and butterflies bring joy every time they flutter by.

So, if you love butterflies and if you enjoy having nature around your home, then install a butterfly garden. Butterfly gardening not only brings butterflies but also a small host of other wonderful wildlife to your doorstep.

South Florida, Miami and all of the surrounding cities and suburbs of Dade and Broward counties are perfect spots to create a year round and fully functioning butterfly garden. Caterpillars, which transform into butterflies, require special kinds of plants to feed upon and these plants grow extremely well in the South Florida sub-tropic planting zones. These are called hostplants.

In this article we will highlight the best plants for Attracting Butterflies To Your Miami Garden – Our 16 Favorite Butterfly Attracting Plants.

These host plants are amazing sources of nectar and other flowers that provide food for those winged beauties.


Firebush Hamelia Patens Florida Native Plant with Zebra Butterfly

Native Firebush Plant with Zebra Butterfly

Firebush, Hamelia patens, is a native to Florida and is perfect for south Florida and the Miami area! This beautiful perennial grows year round in our sub tropic heat and produces flowers from late spring until the first frost (as if there were frost in Miami). This semi-woody shrub can reach fifteen feet in height and produces bright red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, including the zebra longwing and gulf fritillary butterflies.

The Hamelia patens grows and flowers best in full sun and it is best to trim your Firebush to five or eight feet tall. It works well in hedges, mixed borders, or as a stand-alone shrub. Firebush can be planted in any well-drained soil and will do best if it is watered regularly until it is established. Once this native south Florida plant has caught hold it is amazing at attracting both birds and butterflies.


Firespike Odontonema strictum with Hummingbird plant for south florida

Firespike with Hungry Hummingbird

Firespike is known botanically as Odontonema strictum and adds a bright red pop to your south Florida garden and is perfect for attracting hummingbirds and several species of butterflies that feed on the nectar. The Odontonema strictum grows between 4 to 6 feet tall and produces clusters of 3-inch-long, tubular red flowers.

Firespike can be planted year-round in Florida and blooms best under full sun.

Ruby Red

Ruby Red Pentas - Egyptian Star Cluster Butterfly Garden

Ruby Red is a Great Butterfly Attractor

This Ruby Red Pentas also known as Egyptian Star Cluster and Pentas lanceolata is a south Florida plant that produces some of the most vivid red flowers of any of the Pentas.

It blossoms from spring until fall and bares 3″ flower clusters that will attract butterflies and other nectar loving creatures like bees and hummingbirds to your gardens throughout summer The Ruby Red is an upright rounded shrub-like tropical perennial that is often grown as an annual.


Blue Porterweed

Parantica_Aglea_Butteryfly-on Blue Porterweed Stachytarpheta Jamaicensis

Parantica Aglea Butteryfly on Blue Porterweed

Blue Porterweed also known as Stachytarpheta jamaicensis is one of the most popular of South Florida’s butterfly attracting plants, with brilliant blue flowers appearing partway up the funky, swirly, upright stems.

This plant is a fast grower and best kept between 2-1/2 to 3 feet tall.

The Blue Porterweed is best in part sun and partial shaded areas. Trim the shrub occasionally to keep it shaped. Give these plants a regular watering, but don’t keep them overly wet.



Jatropha Tree

Jatropha Integerrima Jatropha Tree Butterfly Attractor South Florida Planting

Jatropha Attracting More Than Butterflies

The Jatropha integerrima aka Jatropha tree produces scarlet flowers which attracts a ton of beautiful butterflies and it blooms 365 days a year.

The dwarf Jatropha tree (Jatropha integerrima ‘Compacta‘) is the one to buy…it stays smaller and denser and is the one most commonly sold at nurseries.

This red flowering tree is actually a Jatropha shrub and can be trained to a single trunk or grown as a bush. Keep the trunk free of baby shoots to maintain the tree look.

One of South Florida’s most consistent butterfly attracting plants, Jatropha is also a favorite with hummingbirds.

This tree is a fast grower – the dwarf variety gets only 6 to 8 feet tall. It needs full to part sun and a well-drained spot.

Ruellia Brittoniana

Ruellia brittoniana the Mexican petunia as a butterfly insect garden attractor in south florida

Insects Love The Ruellia

Ruellia brittoniana the Mexican petunia is a tender evergreen perennial that forms colonies of small and medium sized stalks it has a maximum height around 3 ft.

The lance-shaped leaves are to 6-12 inches in length and are 1/2-3/4 wide. It blossoms scores of trumpet shaped blue beauty flowers that accent the bluish metallic cast the leaves give when grown under hot sunny conditions. This Mexican petunia is very good at attracting swarms of admiring butterflies.

Varieties with white, pink, and many shades of blue are available, as are dwarf versions.

Almond Bush

almond bush Prunus glandulosa south florida miami insect butterfly gardening

Humans Are Not The Only Wildlife That Finds The Almond Bush Attractive

The flowering almond bush (Prunus glandulosa and Prunus triloba) put on a spectacular show in the garden, which makes this a great butterfly and natural wildlife attractor. For smaller areas chose the P. glandulosa, or dwarf flowering almond as it grows between 4 and 6 feet tall and equally wide. The Almond Bush produces white or pink flowers in mid-spring.

Select a planting site that receives full sun to partial shade. Flowering almond prefers a loamy soil that drains well, but keep away from salty water and salt saturated air.



Turk’s Cap 

Turk’s Cap Malvaviscus arboreus south florida hummingbird garden

Hummingbirds LOVE the Turk’s Cap

The Turk’s Cap is also known as the Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii it is a spreading shrub that grows between 2 to 3 ft but, it can reach heights of 9 ft. if left unattended. The bright-red petals resemble a Turkish turban, thus the name Turk’s Cap. The flowers never fully open. They overlap to form a loose tube with a protruding staminal column. This is a perfect flower type for bee’s, butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar gathering insects.




monarch-caterpillars-common-milkweed-south florida butterfly plant

Monarch Caterpillars Working On Transforming Into the Big Beauty Monarch Butterfly on the Milkweed Plant

The Milkweed is the king plant for the king of butterflies, the Monarch. It is also very important for many other insect species like Milkweed Bugs, and Milkweed Leaf Beetles that only eat milkweed.

Common Milkweed grows up to six feet tall. It has large, broad leaves, usually four to ten inches long. They sometimes have red veins and have flowers that are pinkish-purple clusters which often droop.

They are very hardy plants and grow nearly anywhere in any condition.



Purple Passionflower & Purple Passion Vine

Passiflora incarnate purple passion flower south florida botanical garden Passion Fruit Vine For Butterflies and HumansPurple passion-flower, also known as the Passiflora incarnate, is an herbaceous vine that can climb and sprawl up to 25 ft. Local wildlife such as butterflies, moths, bees and more love this plant…

BONUS: This passion flower plant produces a delicious edible fruit.



Cassia Trees

Desert cassia Senna polyphylla south florida gardening

Dessert Cassia is a Great Garden Center Piece. Awing your friends and pleasing your butterfly followers.

Cassia trees are known for their bright yellow insect attracting display. These trees come in several varieties and sizes: Desert cassia, Cassia surattensis (“Scrambled Egg Tree”) and Cassia fistula (“Golden Shower Tree”). All three varieties are incredibly beautiful in full bloom and they make perfect small-space trees.

Desert Cassia

Desert cassia (Senna polyphylla) grows only to 10 feet tall with spring and fall flowers. This little giant is salt-tolerant, evergreen and an ideal centerpiece for your butterfly garden.

 Cassia Surattensis 

Cassia surattensis grows between 12 to 15 feet high. It is another butterfly attractor that blooms twice – in spring and fall. It stays green with thick foliage year round. This tree is very happy in South Florida.

Cassia Fistula

Cassia fistula blooms in summer and occasionally blooms in the fall. It produces incredible cascading flower clusters that sometimes are so prolific you can barely see the green leaves through the flowers.

Fistula can grow to heights of 30 feet, but can be easily maintained at 20 feet in home landscapes. They’re salt-tolerant and fast growers.

Pagoda Flower

Pagoda flower Clerodendrum paniculatum butterflies love this plant

Pagoda Flower Clerodendrum Paniculatum, Butterflies Love This Plant

The Pagoda flower also known as the Clerodendrum paniculatum is an erect, open semi-woody shrub with large evergreen leaves and huge clusters of orange-red or scarlet flowers. It is a bush with multiple stems and grows between 3 and 5 ft, spreading 2-3 ft across. The leaves have heart shaped bases and the individual flowers are only about 0.5 in long but are arranged in massive panicles up to 1 ft or more in height. The pyramid shaped flowers are somewhat like that of a Japanese pagoda. The flower blooms from summer through autumn with additional sporadic flowering throughout the year in warmer environments like south Florida..




Lantana-Bandana-Red Butterfly gardens in south florida

Lantana-Bandana-Red Butterfly Gardens in South florida

Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants The genus includes both herbaceous plants and shrubs growing between 1.6 and 6.6 ft tall. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas or also called the Viburnum lantana.

Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters called umbels are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets.

Lantanas are useful as honey plants for nectar seeking insects and are excellent for butterfly gardening. Butterflies which are attracted to lantana flowers are most notably Papilioninae (swallowtail and birdwing utterflies). Hesperiidae (skippers) and certain brush-footed butterflies (namely Danainae and Heliconiinae), as well as some Pieridae (e.g. cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae) and Lycaenidae (e.g. the aforementioned lantana scrub-hairstreak), also like to visit the plants’ flowers.

Plumbago Auriculata

Plumbago auriculata leadwort plumbago and skyflower for butterfly gardens

Chose Skyflower for Big Beautiful Butterfly Gardens

Plumbago auriculata is called by several common names, leadwort, plumbago and skyflower, it is an evergreen shrub with semi-woody stems that grow between 3 and 10 ft height. Plumbago can be pruned to grow like a vine, pruned to become more compact like a shrub, or left to sprawl with its long, gracefully arching branches. It produces 2 in light yellowish green leaves and a sky blue flower that is about 1 in long with 5 petals spreading about 1 in across. In South Florida and Miami this beauty blooms all year long.

A white flowered variety (P. auriculata var. alba) is available. The cultivar, ‘Royal Cape’ has intense cobalt blue flowers.

A favorite of butterflies, plumbago also is one of the most popular flowering shrubs in Central and South Florida gardens. It is very fast-growing, has few problems and is almost always smiling.

Plumbago does best in light, sandy soils with good drainage. Do not add lime to the soil; plumbago likes a slightly acidic pH..


Coontie Palm - Florida Native Plant - Alta Butterfly Habitat

This Florida Native Coontie Pleases The Rare and Once Thought Extinct Alta Butterfly

As a south Florida gardener you should take the time to discover the Florida coontie. It is a Florida native plant that is well adapted to the south Florida heat. Its recent increased use in landscapes has encouraged the presence of the rare Atala butterfly, which uses coontie as a larval host plant.

The coontie, an unusual Florida native, is a cycad—a “living fossil.” These primitive plants were a dominant form of plant life during the dinosaur age.

Coontie Species. Some botanists report only a single coontie species in Florida (Zamia floridana), while others feel the coontie has several species such as Z. integrifolia, Z. pumila, and Z. umbrosaZ. pumilais

This herbaceous plant looks like a small fern or palm. Typically they are 1–3 ft. high. The coontie has stiff, featherlike leaves, up to 3 ft. in length


Atala Butterfly

Alta Butterfly For a Full Butterfly Garden

Alta Butterfly For a Full Butterfly Garden

The coontie serves as the sole host plant for larvae of the rare Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala), once thought to be extinct in Florida. The hungry larvae are able to withstand the coonties’ natural toxins and, in turn, incorporate them into their tissues, rendering the larvae and adults unpalatable to various predators, particularly birds.








Corky Stem Passion Vine

Corky Stem Passion Vine with Zebra Longwing ButterflyThe Passiflora suberosa is commonly known as the Corky Stem Passion Vine. It gets tiny green flowers that are about the size of an adult fingertip. Planting this passion vine is one of the easiest ways to make your yard a butterfly habitat for some of the following major butterflies; Zebra Heliconian, Gulf Fritillary and Julia Dryas.






So there you have it folks! A highlight of the Best Plants for Attracting Butterflies To Your Miami Garden – The 16 Best Butterfly Attracting Plants For South Florida. No matter what county or city in south Florida you may live (Broward County, Dade County, Miami, Coral Gables, Davie, Ft Lauderdale or anything in-between) these plants will surely attract dozens if not hundreds of beautiful and colorful butterflies to your home or office garden.

Want a Butterfly Garden at your home but don’t have the time? Give us a call. We love butterflies and will perform a professional install in no time at all…

Making your landscape into a butterfly haven!

Making your landscape into a butterfly haven!

Making your landscape a butterfly garden

South Florida hosts wide range of exquisite butterfly species. More than a dozen or so types of butterflies can be seen around our area all year. Swallowtails, Zebras, Fritillaries, and Monarchs are just a few of the majestic little garden dwellers that you have the opportunity to encounter in your very own yard. Seeing as there are so many butterflies in our South Florida landscapes, it makes a great deal of sense that there are so many native plants in our area that are butterfly attractors.

butterfly garden

Two monarchs getting to know one another


Butterflies have a very intimate relationship with plants; they feed on the nectar of flowers and lay their eggs on leaves and stems. Native plants have become markedly dependable for their nourishment and shelter, and so by incorporating more native butterfly plants in our landscape and gardens we will become an honored host. Plant these host plants and you’ll have a thriving butterfly garden in no time. 

One of the best plant choices to bring butterflies into your life is Milkweed. Butterflies absolutely love milkweed nectar and you will love how their striking orange, pink, and red flowers liven up your landscape or garden. Milkweed is also relatively inexpensive and, living up to its name, grows very quickly in virtually any soil condition. As a South Florida native, milkweed, in addition to its butterfly attraction, will do wonderful things for your soil and surrounding ecology. Milkweed is an important element in any butterfly garden.

butterfly garden

Queen butterflies having lunch

When you attract butterflies to your garden with food they will come and go, but when you give them a place to lay their eggs, well they’ll be there all the time! There are many plants in South Florida that are larval plants, however few compare to the Corky Stem Passion Vine. The corky stem is a larval plant to Zebras, several types of Fritillaries, and the Julia butterflies. The corky stem passion vine is also reasonably priced and grows very rapidly. This is an ideal vine for privacy fences. The flowers are not especially striking however the massive clouds of gorgeous twirling butterflies more than make up for that.

butterfly garden

Corky stem passion vine

A very important consideration for butterfly attraction is to be mindful of any chemicals you might be using in your garden. Butterflies are very fragile creatures. Commercial fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides are lethal to butterflies and their larva. Brent uses safe organic means of pest control but even some of his organic methods must be undertaken with great care to preserve the winged beauty of his garden spaces. Brent uses an organic pest control product that is essentially an organic bacteria. This bacteria has no effect on the plant but it is toxic to caterpillars and other bugs that feed on our fruit and vegetable plants. When Brent is spraying this on his tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other edible plants he must very carefully avoid getting any of it on his butterfly plants. Brent remains vigilant in his application of these agents and, as a true lover of butterflies, takes the greates care in keeping them safe and comfortable in his gardens.

There are so many bright, vibrant, and beautiful butterfly plants that can be utilized in our area all year long, and Brent knows them all. In Brent’s garden, when you are experiencing the breathtaking display of endless swarms of butterflies as far as you can see, it is difficult to imagine at that moment that there could be any butterflies anywhere else. When Brent unleashes his famous, “Butterflies Gone Wild” it surely seems as though every butterfly in South Florida is in eager attendance.

butterfly garden

Butterflies transcend all ages

Landscape Designer Brent Knoll knows butterflies and Brent knows butterfly plants. Whatever the taste and whatever the budget, Brent can turn your home yard and garden into a favorite destination for butterflies everywhere. Give him a call today at 3054965155 and turn your South Florida landscape into a butterfly haven!

butterfly garden