Attracting Butterflies

with Florida’s Native Wildflowers

Landscaping with Florida’s native wildflowers and plants provides refuge for birds, bees and butterflies while creating “habitat highways” through urban settings.

Florida’s butterfly population is imperiled due to loss of native habitat and host plants that are necessary for them to complete the metamorphosis from egg to larva to adult. 

By planting wildflowers that provide nectar, pollen and larval food for our native butterflies and moths, we can help fill the void between fragmented natural habitats. Even small native wildflower plots can be stepping stones in a pollinator pathway that help insects reach parks, natural areas and roadside wildflowers.

Planning your garden

Butterflies use a variety of wildflowers, shrubs and trees as host plants. And they need an abundance of nectar for food throughout their life span. Planting Florida native wildflowers will add seasonal beauty to your garden and attract butterflies by providing the vital resources they need.

Follow these simple steps to establish a Florida native butterfly garden:
  • Choose a site that receives 4 or more hours of full sun to partial shade.
  • Plant flowers of varying heights and flower size and that bloom from March through November.
  • Group 3 or more of each flower species for
  • visual impact.
  • Use both larval host and nectar plants. 
  • Water to establish.  
  • Do not use fertilizer and never spray pesticides.
  • Where possible, leave plant debris that may contain eggs or chrysalises.

Learn more about Monarchs and milkweed. Find native plant nurseries at Purchase seeds at

Great Southern white on Tall ironweed, Vernonia gigantea
Great Southern white on Tall ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) by Peg Urban

Great wildflowers for butterflies

The following Florida native wildflowers work well in a home landscape and provide nectar and larval hosts for native butterflies and moths.

Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) on Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) has showy pink flowers that typically bloom in summer and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed
Fewflower milkweed, Asclepias lanceolata

Fewflower milkweed

Fewflower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata) is a delicate wildflower found in swamps and moist to wet pinelands and prairies throughout Florida. Its stunning orange flowers typically bloom late spring through fall.
Read more… Fewflower milkweed

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) blooms in late spring through early fall and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed

Butterfly milkweed

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial that produces large, showy clusters of bright orange to reddish flowers from spring through fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and…
Read more… Butterfly milkweed


Herb-of-grace (Bacopa monnieri) is a creeping, mat-forming perennial that occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and swales, salt marshes, freshwater marshes and swamps, and along river, stream and ditch edges.
Read more… Herb-of-grace

Partridge pea

Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) is a larval host for several butterflies, including the Gray hairstreak and Cloudless sulphur. The plant is also used by bees, ants, flies, wasps, birds and…
Read more… Partridge pea
Mistflower blooms


Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) gives the appearance of a blue fog when blooming en masse. Its flowers are very attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies, moths and long-tongued bees.
Read more… Mistflower
Lanceleaf tickseed flower

Lanceleaf tickseed

Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata) has conspicuously sunny flowers that typically bloom in spring. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and its seeds are eaten by birds and small wildlife.
Read more… Lanceleaf tickseed

Corn snakeroot

Corn snakeroot (Eryngium aquaticum) typically blooms summer through late fall. Its spiny blue to lavender flowers attract a plethora of pollinators, especially bees.
Read more… Corn snakeroot

Lakeside sunflower

Lakeside sunflower (Helianthus carnosus) is a perennial wildflower endemic to northeast Florida that inhabits open sunny edges of lakes and marshes. The beautiful bright yellow flowers attract a variety of…
Read more… Lakeside sunflower

Rayless sunflower

Rayless sunflower (Helianthus radula) is a unique member of the Helianthus genus—its ray florets are almost entirely absent. It blooms spring through fall and attracts a variety of pollinators.
Read more… Rayless sunflower
Dune sunflower bloom

Dune sunflower

Dune (or beach) sunflower (Helianthus debilis) typically flowers in summer, but may bloom year-round. Its bright yellow flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees.
Read more… Dune sunflower


Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata) occurs naturally along coastal strands, dunes, hammocks, and pinelands in coastal counties from Pinellas and Brevard south to Monroe and into the Keys.
Read more… Buttonsage
Palamedes swallowtail on Dense gayfeather, Liatris spicata

Dense gayfeather

Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) has striking spikes of purple flowers that bloom late summer through fall and are excellent attractors of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
Read more… Dense gayfeather
Mimosa strigillosa

Sunshine mimosa

Sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) has showy “powderpuff” flowers that bloom spring through summer, attracting mostly bees. The plant is a larval host for the Little sulphur butterfly.
Read more… Sunshine mimosa

Spotted beebalm

Also known as Dotted horsemint, Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) is a robust, aromatic wildflower known to attract a huge variety of pollinating insects, including bees, wasps and butterflies. It blooms…
Read more… Spotted beebalm
Purple passionflower bloom


Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has extraordinarily intricate purple-and-white-fringed flowers. The plant is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the Gulf fritillary and Zebra longwing.
Read more… Passionflower
Frogfruit flowers


Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is both a versatile and vital wildflower. This evergreen perennial is low-growing and creeping, often forming dense mats of green foliage.
Read more… Frogfruit
Wild petunia

Wild petunia

Wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) typically blooms late spring through late summer/early fall, attracting a variety of pollinators. It is the host plant for the White peacock and Common buckeye butterflies.
Read more… Wild petunia
Tropical sage flowers

Tropical sage

Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) is a versatile perennial wildflower that no pollinator can resist, but it is particularly attractive to bees, large butterflies and hummingbirds.
Read more… Tropical sage
Cloudless sulphur caterpillar on privet senna

Privet senna

Privet senna (Senna ligustrina) flowers are mainly bee-pollinated, but the plant is a larval host for the Cloudless sulphur and Sleepy orange butterflies.
Read more… Privet senna
Starry rosinweed flower

Starry rosinweed

Starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) is a robust perennial with showy yellow blooms. It is typically found in pine flatwoods, sandhills, open woodlands, mixed upland forests and disturbed or ruderal areas.
Read more… Starry rosinweed
Seaside goldenrod flower stalk with bees

Seaside goldenrod

The conspicuous golden blooms of Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) are found on dunes, in tidal marshes, bogs and sandy flatwoods, along roadsides and in disturbed areas in Florida’s coastal counties…
Read more… Seaside goldenrod

Blue porterweed

Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) is an excellent addition to a butterfly garden: It is a host plant for the Tropical buckeye and a nectar source for many other butterfly species.
Read more… Blue porterweed
Walter's aster, Symphyotrichum walteri

Walter’s aster

Walter’s aster (Symphyotrichum walteri) in late fall and early winter, providing nectar and pollen to butterflies, bees and other pollinators at a time when floral resources are limited.
Read more… Walter’s aster
Bee on purple aster flower

Georgia aster

Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum) is a magnet for bees and butterflies. Its flowers are distinguishable from other Symphyotrichum species by their relatively large size and deep violet-colored ray petals.
Read more… Georgia aster
Climbing aster flower

Climbing aster

Climbing aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum) is a robust vine-like shrub that produces many fragrant daisy-like lavender to pinkish blooms. It is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.
Read more… Climbing aster
Great Southern white on Tall ironweed, Vernonia gigantea

Giant ironweed

Giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is a robust perennial wildflower that blooms in summer and fall, with peak blooming in July. It attracts many pollinators, particularly butterflies.
Read more… Giant ironweed