Ooh, I got tagged! I'm it!
Let's see, we've already named some good ones. Blanket flowers are awesome for bees and butterflies. Passion vine is a must have if you want Gulf Fritillaries and Zebra Longwings. However, I will add that Zebra Longwings tend to prefer the native varieties like P. suberosa and P. lutea. Do not buy the red, tropical Passion vine as it will kill the caterpillars. Stick with blue or purple varieties. I like Rue because it hosts both the Giant Swallowtail and the Black Swallowtail so I get double the value. Last year I planted a Purple Firespike because the one at USF Botanical Gardens is like crack for butterflies. It just started blooming a few weeks ago so I'm going to see how it does. Mexican Flame Vine and Mexican Sunflowers (dwarf variety like "Torch" or my favorite, "Goldfinger") are both great. Oh, and firebush is great for hummingbirds, Zebra Longwings, and Sulphurs. I think Sulphurs tend to prefer red flowers, in my experience.
If you grow Pipevine, stick with the natives and not the tropicals. I'm growing Wooly Pipevine and it's kind of a slow grower compared to the tropicals. However, we get both the Pipevine ST and the Polydamas ST in Florida. Polydamas can eat pretty much any pipevine, but the tropical varieties will kill the Pipevine ST cats. I have this theory about the level of toxicity in the plants.
Jatropha is a good nectar plant, especially for the Zebra Longwings. Pentas attract pretty much everyone but I recommend buying red, purple, or pink varieties. If you see Tampa Verbena (Glandularia tampensis) for sale, I highly recommend it. It's endangered, but you can find it at Home Depot and Lowe's. And I haven't had any problems with plants from the big box stores, but I do still prefer local nurseries for economic and environmental reasons.
And as always, I can't stress how important it is to let some of the weeds just go. If you can keep a section of your yard weedy, you will be rewarded. Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) is a host for the Dainty Sulphur and one of the best nectar plants ever. Desmodium spp. (Beggar's Ticks) host the Long-Tailed Skipper and Dorantes Skipper. Right now we have Virginia Pepper Grass coming up which hosts the Great Southern White and the Checkered White. Pellitory is a great host for the Red Admiral - just saw my first one this year a few days ago!
Okay, mentally wandering around my yard...Duranta (aka Golden Dewdrop) is a vine that serves as a good nectar plant. Plumbagos, which can be found literally everywhere, host the Cassius Blue and are a great nectar plant for the Swallowtails as well as other butterflies. But Swallowtails really like them. My neighbor has a Firecracker Fern that always seems to attract the Sulphurs. Oh, which reminds me, a Senna or Cassia would be good to host the Sulphur butterflies. Try to go native as there is one sold as Christmas Senna which is invasive. I grow Privet Cassia (Senna ligustrina).
I am an echinacea killer. People will say they're native to Florida but if you check the ISB Atlas of Vascular Plants (I LOVE this website), you'll see it only grows in the panhandle. http://www.florida.plantatlas....
I've tried them all around my yard in different degrees of sun, water, and soil and they die every time.
Where are you in Central Florida? If you haven't already checked out the Florida Gardening forum, we would all be happy to recommend some of our favorite places to buy plants. As soon as my Dad's truck is available, I'm going to buy another Sweetbay Magnolia from a nursery in Land O' Lakes. It's a host plant for the Tiger Swallowtail which I am determined to raise! Also, feel free to check in anytime in the daily butterfly thread. You don't have to have pictures. It's a great place just to discuss butterflies so if you have questions you may get more answers since some of us forget to check the whole forum for a while (which is why Ann had to call me out!)
And if you look at my signature, you'll see I volunteer at MOSI in the butterfly exhibit. If you're near Tampa, I'd be happy to show you around the garden and the butterfly exhibit. It's located outside the museum so you don't need to buy a ticket to get in to see it. Heck, a lot of visitors stop by the butterfly exhibit before they even go inside to buy their tickets so I'm just used to it.
I don't purposefully try to attract hummingbirds, but here's what they eat in my garden. Porterweed. Oh, how did I forget to mention porterweed! Again, there is a native and an invasive variety. The native has blue flowers and is much shorter than the invasive kind. The invasive will have either purple or coral flowers. It's also a butterfly magnet. I hate to think how much nectar those little flowers must produce. Hummingbirds will also hit up firebush, any of my bromeliads in bloom (surprised me, too), and I've seen them on my flowering maple (Abutilon spp.).
If you have more questions, or questions about a particular plant we've mentioned or how to attract a certain butterfly, just ask! FYI, a great place to buy host plants is www.mailordernatives.com I have ordered many hard to find host plants from them. Great folks with good prices.