Although a few moths are active during the day, adding moth-attracting plants to your Florida garden will reward you with nighttime visits from some of nature's most beautiful pollinators. While generally less flashy than butterflies, some moths have striking colors and wing patterns or unusual behavior. They, and the plants that attract them, will make great conversation starters for your evening gatherings in the garden.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and the primrose moth (Schinia florida) make a delightful pastel pairing. The moth has a bright pink head, pink and white wings, and a yellow-topped thorax and abdomen with pink undersides. Those colors complement evening primrose's deep yellow 2-inch flowers. The plant begins blooming in July and continues through October. The moths lay their eggs--and their caterpillars feed--on the flower buds.
Evening primrose, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, stands 3 to 6 feet high with a straight, hairy stem. Plants are biennial, blooming and dying in their second year. Their dense spikes of the fragrant flowers open at night and close by noon. Plant evening primrose in sun to shade and dry, sandy or rocky soil. Birds feed on its seeds and hummingbirds on its nectar.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a small--up to 30-foot--tree that grows wild in Florida's woods and along stream banks. Its pink spring flowers feed the Io moth (Automeris io) caterpillar. Pink-and-white striped green caterpillars have clusters of stinging spines. Male moths have yellow--and females reddish-brown--wings with orange or yellow margins and large blue or black eyespots.
Redbud trees, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, have attractive purplish trunks and heart-shaped green leaves that emerge after the flowers. Trees normally bloom between March and May. The edible flowers are good in salads or fried. Plant redbud in a partly shady to shady spot with rich, moist well-drained soil.
Horn-of-plenty (Datura metel) attracts the daytime-flying Hemaris thysbe, or hummingbird moth, which hovers like a hummingbird as it feeds. A perennial in Florida, horn-of-plenty stands 3 to 4 feet high and wide. It has 8-inch dark green leaves and large, trumpet-shaped summer blooms. Flowers may be yellow, white, lavender or purple. Intensely fragrant, they open at dusk from unusual cigar-like buds and are dead by the following mid-day.
Spherical dark purple fruit follows the blooms. Plant horn-of-plenty, says the Missouri Botanical Garden, in humus-rich loam and full sun. Water it regularly and stake it if it begins to sprawl. Ingesting any part of this plant is toxic or fatal to people and animals.