If creating a butterfly, native or wildlife garden, tubular flowers work well to attract many varieties of birds, butterflies and mammals. Varieties include shrubs, succulents, tropicals, trees and perennials. Many varieties work well outdoors in the ground, as houseplants, in containers and in hanging baskets.
Firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis), also called coral plant, belonging in the family Scrophulariaceae, is a perennial evergreen well suited for growing throughout USDA planting zones 9 through 11, preferring warm temperatures. Plants have wiry, slender branches arching toward the ground, making them well suited for growing in hanging baskets. Spring through fall, the plants fill with tubular shaped, coral red flowers approximately 1 inch in length that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Plants have a clumping habit and grow up to 4 feet tall and approximately 3 feet wide. It performs well in full sun to partial sun environments and prefers rich and moist well-draining soils. It is well suited for use in butterfly and wildlife gardens or as a container-grown outdoor or indoor plant.
Aloe vera, also called medicinal aloe, is a clumping succulent that belongs in the family Liliaceae and is an African native. It grows well planted into the ground outdoors in USDA planting zones 8 through 11, with container-grown plants suitable for cooler, frost-prone areas. The plant has thick, fleshy, grayish green leaves with small spikes running along their edges. The leaves form together in a vase-like rosette. Spring through winter, spikes of yellow, tubular flowers grow from the plant’s center. There are many aloe cultivars with tubular flowers blooming in colors of yellows, oranges and reds.
Plants have a clumping nature and prefer well-drained soils, tolerating the worst conditions. Aloe vera performs best grown in full to partial sun and is quite drought and salt tolerant. Its tubular flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, making it suitable for use in butterfly and wildlife gardens as well as in rock and tropical gardens. The gel-like substance inside the leaves is used for treating minor sunburns and scrapes.
Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is a Central American native belonging within the family Acanthaceae. It grows well in USDA planting zones 8 through 11 and acts as a perennial evergreen in frost-free areas. In cooler areas, firespike dies to the ground in winter and reemerges in springtime. The plant has an upright habit with deep green, oblong leaves. Springtime throughout fall, clusters of 1-inch, bright scarlet, tubular flowers bloom atop 1-foot long spikes. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Its foliage and flowers also attract white-tailed deer, which like to eat them.
Plants grow up to 6 feet tall and prefer growing in full to partial sun conditions. Firespike grows well in moist, well-drained soils but is rather drought-tolerant when established. It works well as a screening and hedging plant as well as in butterfly and wildlife gardens or as a specimen.