Miami Native Plants for a Butterfly Garden

Attract butterflies to your Miami garden with native flowering plants. South Florida's tropical climate--hot and humid in the summer, and warm in the winter--allows plenty of opportunity for year-round gardening and colorful plants that attract butterflies. For best results, avoid using pesticides, especially broad-spectrum types like Bacillus thuringensis (Bt). Grow a variety of plants that provide nectar for butterflies at various stages of their life.


Milkweed (Asclepias spp.), also known as butterfly weed, is a quick-growing perennial that reaches a height of 2 to 5 feet at maturity. Its bright orange and red flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Grow butterfly weed in full sun for the best flowering, however, light, soils and moisture needs vary by species. Milkweed tolerates moderate drought.


Not all species of porterweed (Stachytarpheta spp.) are native to Florida, but it is a common butterfly attractor. Porterweed flowers are variable by species. The plant grows 2 to 8 feet tall at maturity with a 3-to-4 foot spread. Porterweed grows well in full sun to partial shade, in a variety of soils.


Firebush (Hamelia patens) is a Florida native shrub with clusters of small, bright red to orange, tube-shaped flowers. Grow firebush in partial shade in semi-sheltered locations (its branches break easily in high winds). Firebush prefers nutrient-rich, moist soils, but does well in a wide range of conditions. According to an article published by the Florida Native Plant Society, firebush attracts many species of butterflies---zebra longwings, Gulf fritillaries, Julias, swallowtails, sulphers and whites.

Leavenworth's Coreopsis

Leavenworth's coreopsis (Coreopsis leavenworthii) is a Florida native that attracts butterflies with its bright yellow, dark-centered flowers. Grow coreopsis in full sun in soil with an acidic to slightly alkaline pH. Coreopsis does not tolerate drought well and will handle occasionally wet conditions. Coreopsis may flower throughout the winter months in the Miami area, but are generally short-lived plants (three to four seasons), according to University of Florida Extension.


Coontie (Zamia floridana), also known as Florida arrowroot or Florida zamia, is Florida's only native cycad that is attractive to butterflies in the larval stage. Coontie is an evergreen, shrub-like plant that ranges from 1 to 3 feet tall with a clumping form. Coontie grow well in a variety of soils with good drainage. The plant prefers partial shade conditions.

Keywords: butterfly attractors Miami, Miami natives butterflies, native Miami plants

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."