Jeff Shimonski
snowy mountain

Exotic Plants for Butterfly Gardens

Calliandra haematocephala
Calliandra haematocephala

This is a short list of tropical plants that attract native Florida butterflies either for nectar or as a larval food plant. It is by no means exhaustive.

Lantana camara. Remember the majority of butterfly species reside in the tropics and obviously utilize the plants found there.

There are a number of ways to attract butterflies. Sliced ripe fruit will attract many species. A cut open Watermelon will attract Julias and Monarchs. The nitrogen in urine is desired by some species (give you any ideas?).

  • Abutilon sp. attracts Zebras, Peacocks, and Julias.
  • Asclepias curassavica (Blood Flower) attracts Peacocks, Monarchs, and Queens. It is also an excellent larval food for Monarchs and Queens.
  • Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush) is very popular with all butterflies.
  • Bauhinia galpinii will attract Monarchs.
  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima (Barbados-Pride) is a small tree that is very popular with Zebras, Julias, Peacocks, Monarchs, and Queens.
  • Calotropis gigantea is a larval food plant for Monarchs and Queens.
  • Calliandra haematocephala (Red Powder Puff) attracts Peacocks and Zebras. It also seems to be popular as a perch for Swallowtails and Zebras.
  • Calliandra surinamensis (Surinam Powder Puff) attracts Giant Swallowtails, Zebras, and Peacocks.
  • Citrofortunella mitis (Calamondin) is a larval food plant for Swallowtails.
  • Clerodendrum bungii is very popular with Monarchs and Queens.
  • Clerodendrum paniculatum (Pagoda Flower) attracts Zebras, Peacocks, Monarchs and Swallowtails.
  • Clerodendrum ugandense (Purple Butterfly Bush) attracts Monarchs, Queens, and Peacocks.
  • Clerodendrum philippinum var. pleniflorum is a night blooming Clerodendron that is not only popular with Monarchs and Zebras but Moths also come to the blooms at night.
  • Cornutia grandfolia attracts Peacocks, Julias, and Zebras.
  • Duranta erecta (Skyflower) in both the blue and white flowered forms. White flowers are very popular with Julias and Peacocks. The blue flowered form attracts Julias, Peacocks, Zebras, Sulfurs, and Swallowtails. Hamelia patens (Firebush) and all of the other Hamelia sp. seem to be very popular with all butterfly species.
  • Holmskioldia tettensis (Tahitian Hat Plant) attracts Zebras, Sulfurs, Whites and Giant Swallowtails.
  • Ixora sp. attracts Monarchs.
  • Jatropha integerrima are utilized by Zebras, Julias, and Peacocks.
  • Jatropha podagrica (Gout Plant) attracts Zebras and Julias.
  • Lantana camara is very popular with zebras and Julias. The yellow flowered species are also larval food plants for Peacocks and a nectar source for many other species.
  • Murraya sp. (Orange Jasmine ect.) are larval food plants for Swallowtails.
  • Mussaenda incanna attracts Monarchs and Zebras.
  • Odontonema strictum (Cardinal's Crest) is very popular with Zebras, Queens, Julias, Swallowtails, Monarchs, and Eastern Blacks.
  • Pachystachys coccinea (Red Shrimp Plant) attracts Giant and Palamedes Swallowtails and Monarchs.
  • Passiflora sp. (Purple Passion Vine) entice Zebras to lay their eggs on the foliage.
  • Pentas lanceolata is very popular with all butterflies.
  • Quisqualis indica (Rangoon Creeper) is a vine that attracts Zebras and Julias.
  • Ruellia brittoniana is a larval food for Peacocks.
  • Salvia azurea is very popular with all species of butterflies.
  • Salvia leucantha attracts Peacocks and Monarchs.
  • Solanum seaforthianum (St. Vincent Lilac) attracts various species of butterflies.
  • Stachytarpheta urticifolia (Blue Porterweed) is very popular with all butterflies.

Photo Gallery

Click Photos to Enlarge

Lantana camara
Calliandra haematocephala
Clerodendrum bungei
Hamelia sp.
Pentas lanceolata