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…

Ficus hedge dying?  Top ten privacy hedges for Miami, South Florida.

Ficus hedge dying? Top ten privacy hedges for Miami, South Florida.

Is your Ficus Hedge Dying? The following article will shed light on the whitefly problems of Miami Dade County and privacy hedge plant options to choose from. 


Whitefly have become a serious problem here in South Florida over the last 5 to 10 years. We all know what whitefly is by now right? It’s that cute little, little, little white fly looking thing that attaches itself to the back of plant leaves like ficus hedges and palms. Whitefly has a white fuzzy appearance, when the leaves are shaken, there becomes a cloud of dust, then you see little bugs flying all over. Is your ficus hedge dying? If so, it’s probably whitefly.

In Miami, some species of whiteflies can become serious pests of certain vegetable crops, hedges, greenhouse plants or ornamental plants. Two of the most important species are the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, and the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci. In colder climates, whiteflies die outdoors, but in warmer climates, as well as indoors and in greenhouses, they can reproduce throughout the year with several overlapping generations. 


Adult whiteflies are about 1⁄10 to 1⁄16 inch long and look like tiny moths (Figure 1). They have four broad, delicate wings that are held rooflike over the body and covered with a white powdery wax. Adult females usually lay between 200 and 400 eggs. Sometimes the eggs are deposited in a circular pattern in groups of 30 to 40 because the female will often keep her mouthparts in the plant to feed while moving her abdomen in a circle.

Within about a week, the eggs hatch into flattened nymphs, called crawlers, that wander about the plant, usually our prize ficus hedge. Soon, they insert their mouthparts into the plant and begin to feed. After their first molt, the nymphs lose their legs and antennae. They attach themselves to the undersides of ficus leaves with several waxlike rods coming from their bodies, giving them the appearance of small white oval scale. The nymphs remain fixed to the plant and feed for about four weeks. After a pupa stage, the adults emerge and live for about one month. Within a population, all life stages are present, and generations often overlap.

Adult whiteflyFigure 1

An adult whitefly.



Ficus Hedge Dying? Whitefly kill ficus by sucking out plant juices. Because large amounts of sap can be removed, primarily by the developing nymphs, heavily infested plants can be seriously weakened and grow poorly. Leaves often turn yellow, appear dry and drop prematurely. (Figure 2).

Also, whiteflies suck out more plant juice than they can digest, and they excrete the excess as a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew covers leaf surfaces and acts as a growth medium for a black, sooty mold. Both the removal of plant juices and the presence of the black, sooty mold growing on the honeydew can interfere with photosynthesis.

In some parts of the country, some species of whitefly can transmit several plant viruses.

Whiteflies suck out plant juicesFigure 2

Whiteflies suck out plant juices. This seriously weakens the plant.


Solutions for dealing with whitefly?  Treating ficus hedges with toxic chemicals each month gets very expensive. The toll on the environment is significant as it poisons our water and soil.  In my opinion, it’s easier to work with landscape plants that aren’t susceptible to whitefly than to spray harmful chemicals in an attempt to control them.Hedge material is a great place to start when it comes to dealing with whitefly. Here’s my top ten hedges for South Florida and Miami that are pretty resistant to whitefly. 


Is your ficus hedge dying? If so, choose from the list below for hardy shrubs that can stand up to whitefly.

1. Cherry Hedge- 

The shrub or tree, to 25 ft (7.5 m) high, has slender, spreading branches and resinously aromatic foliage. The opposite leaves, bronze when young, are deep-green and glossy when mature; turn red in cold, dry winter weather. They are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, blunt- to sharp-pointed, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 in (4-6.25 cm) long. Long-stalked flowers, borne singly or as many as 4 together in the leaf axils, have 4 delicate, recurved, white petals d a tuft of 50 to 60 prominent white stamens with pale-yellow anthers. The 7- to 8-ribbed fruit, oblate, 3/4 to 1 1/2 in (2-4 cm) wide, turns from green to orange as it develops and, when mature, bright-red to deep-scarlet or dark, purplish maroon (“black”) when fully ripe. The skin is thin, the flesh orange-red, melting and very juicy; acid to sweet, with a touch of resin and slight bitterness. There may be 1 fairly large, round seed or 2 or 3 smaller seeds each with a flattened side, more or less attached to the flesh by a few slender fibers. Full sun


2. Bamboo- textilis gracilis



3. Stopper- 

Native stoppers (small trees/large shrubs in the Myrtaceae) are excellent choices as low- maintenance, salt-tolerant, medium to tall privacy hedges, accepting full sun or partial shade (growth denser in full sun).  Growth is slow to moderate, but patience will be rewarded as they mature into  definite landscape assets.  Stoppers have little to no problems with whitefly and are fairly bug resistant all together. All have striking foliage, new growth often tinged red to pink, and (if not heavily pruned) produce colorful fruit (attracts birds). Full sun. 


4. Firebush

Firebush is a showy, fast-growing, semi-woody evergreen shrub that can get up to 15 ft (4.6 m) tall under ideal conditions, but usually stays much smaller. It has whorled leaves, usually with three but occasionally as many as seven at each node. The leaves are elliptic to oval, about 6 in (15 cm) long, and gray-pubescent underneath with reddish veins and petioles. They are reflexed upward from the midvein. Throughout the year, firebush produces showy terminal clusters (cymes) of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers, each about 0.75 in (1.9 cm), long. Even the flower stems are red. The clusters of fruit also are showy. Each fruit is a juicy berry with many small seeds, ripening from green to yellow to red and finally to black. Do to it’s fast growing and dense foliage, firebush makes for an ideal privacy hedge as well as a nectaring plant for butterflies and hummingbirds. A firebush plant usually has flowers and fruit in various stages. Loves full sun. Knoll Landscape Design highly recommends this material for a long lasting hedge. 



5. Cocoplum- 

Rounded, shiny green leaves are set off by red-tipped new growth on this most commonly sold variety. The plant produces small white flowers, followed by fruit that’s often made into jelly…or as an attraction in a wildlife garden. The plum is pink and ripens to purple with a fairly bland flavor, and the almond-flavored seeds can be roasted and eaten or crushed for use in cooking. Terrific as hedge shrubs or privacy plants, these native Florida plants can grow to about 15 feet if you let them – though most of the time they’re kept trimmed to around 4 feet. This is an easy-care plant that can be kept more manicured for a formal look or left to grow in its naturally pretty rounded shape in a casual landscape style. There is a “horizontal” cultivar which can be grown as more of a groundcover shrub and is more salt tolerant than “Red Tip” cocoplum.

6. Jamaican Caper- 

This 6- to 20-foot-tall, native shrub is an upright to spreading plant that is related to plant producing edible capers. The evergreen leaves of the Jamaica Caper are lightgreen above, with fine brown scales below. These glossy, oval leaves are folded together when they first emerge and give the plant’s new growth a bronze appearance. The leaves also have a notched tip. Twigs are brownish gray and pubescent. Jamaica Caper flowers have very showy, two-inch-long, purple stamens and white anthers and white petals. The inflorescence is comprised of terminal clusters consisting of 3 to 10 individual flowers. The fruits are 3- to 8-inch-long cylindrical pods containing small brown seeds that are embedded in a scarlet pulp. This is a fabulous privacy hedge and is whitefly resistant. 

7. Jasmine- 

Orange Jessamine is a small, tropical, evergreen tree or shrub growing up to 7 m tall. The plant flowers throughout the year and makes a fabulous hedge no and has little to no problems with whitefly.  Its leaves are glabrous and glossy, occurring in 3-7 oddly pinnate leaflets which are elliptic to cuneate-obovate to rhombic. Flowers are terminal, corymbose,  few-flowered, dense and fragrant. Petals are 12–18 mm long, recurved and white (or fading cream). The fruit of Murraya paniculata is fleshy, oblong-ovoid, coloured red to orange, and grows up to 1 inch in length. This is a full sun hedge and Knoll Landscape Designs favorite! 


8. Areca Palm-

The Areca Palm, scientific name Dypsis lutescens (synonym: Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens) is a beautiful palm tree from Madagascar. This plant is also known as Butterfly Palm, Yellow Palm, Golden Cane Palm, Madagascar palm and Areca Lutescens and is a superior hedge material. It is a common ornamental in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. Probably it is the most cultivated nursery palm tree. However, it is  endangered and very rare in its natural habitat Madagascar.

The Areca palm is a low maintenance plant and a fast grower. You can grow this exotic plant as a house plant. It will bring a tropical touch into your home and purify the air. The Areca is consistently rated among the best houseplants for removing all indoor air toxins.

The graceful Areca Palm tends to grow in clumps. The adult plant looks like a large bush that can reach 20 feet or more in height with a spread of 5-10 feet making it a great hedge plant for privacy.  As a houseplant it is usually grown much smaller. Landscape designers love this plant for it’s simplicity and grace. Full sun to part shade.

9. Buttonwood

Green buttonwood Conocrpus erectus (and the silver leaf form) is another Florida native sometimes grown as a hedge.  Buttonwood hedges often loose density at the base due to insufficient light (more so the silver leaf form) and misplaced sprinklers.  This detracts from what can otherwise be an attractive hedge, and an especially good choice for coastal properties.  Buttonwood experiences a prolonged period of winter dormancy during which there is little leaf renewal at which time the hedge may lose some density.  If installing green buttonwood as a hedge, look for ‘Momba’ a more compact growing cultivar.  These are full sun and make wonderful hedges in Miami. 



10. Fishtail Palms

Need a privacy hedge but don’t want to do the work!?

Landscape Designer Brent Knoll of Knoll Landscape Design is there for you. Brent has over 20 years of landscape design experience in Miami and South Florida and is ready to help you. Call Brent at 30549651555 to schedule a consultation and get the privacy you need today!!!