Flower gardening can be both rewarding and fun. But besides their aesthetic value, many annuals, shrubs and perennial flowering plants can attract butterflies to your Florida garden. Butterflies are typically attracted to brightly colored flowers; particularly, those that are neither too wide, nor too deep, since butterflies will often use flowers as perching platforms. Many butterfly species also rely on certain flowering plants to lay their eggs and for food. Most butterfly species found in Florida feed on the nectar of flowers. Before planting a butterfly garden, consider what butterflies are found in your area, and which flowers are most attractive to them.
Try growing lantana (Lantana camara). Lantana, an evergreen shrub, is a member of the vervain family of plants. It is an indigenous plant to the West Indies and is hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11. Lantana is an open, shrubby-growing planting, often growing between 24 and 36 inches tall. It's known for its long bloom season, which typically begins in spring and continues through winter.
The 1- to 2-inch-wide clustered flowers of lantana range in color from white to yellow, orange to red, pink to rose. They are also known to change color as they age. Lantana is a butterfly attractor in both North and Central areas of Florida. It's known to attract many varieties of butterflies including brushfooted, metalmark, snout, hairstreak, copper and blue butterflies, to name a few. Lantana is easily grown, widely adaptable to a variety of soil types and is fairly drought-resistant. Plant lantana in full sun to partial shade, and make sure it's not over-watered.
Growing cardinal flower (lobelia cardinalis) is sure to attract milkweed butterflies, such as monarch, goatweed, brushfooted and metalmark butterflies. Cardinal flower is a perennial growing plant that belongs to the bellflower family of plants. It is native to the eastern United States, regions in Canada and is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 10.
Cardinal flower is an upright-growing, clumping plant that often grows between 36 and 48 inches tall. It's known for its tubular-shaped, 1- to 2-inch-long, scarlet-red flowers, which are also highly attractive to hummingbirds. Cardinal flower is also relatively easy to grow. Plant cardinal flower in partial shade and normal garden soil, and keep it well-watered.
The colorful annual Orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) is sure to attract numerous butterflies to your garden. Orange cosmos is a member of the aster/daisy (Asteraceae/Compositae) family of plants. It is an indigenous plant to Mexico and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10. Orange cosmos has airy, open, fern-like foliage and grows between 18 and 36 inches tall. It's known for being easily grown and adaptable to variety of growing conditions.
According to Floridata.com, orange cosmos is a beautiful addition to a garden and makes for good bedding or border plants. Orange cosmos produce 2- to 3-inch-wide, bowl shaped flowers that will bloom all summer. Plant orange cosmos in full sun, and provide it with sandy or loamy soil.