How to Make Your Garden a Butterfly & Hummingbird Haven
Hummingbirds are great little birds to watch zip about your yard. The secret to attracting these little guys to your yard comes down to food. Not only can you use hummingbird feeders to attract hummingbirds, but what flowers you have in your garden can draw them to your yard, too.
Hummingbirds look for certain qualities in flowers. While they are attracted to blooms of all colors, they particularly like red flowers. They also like flowers that have a tubular shape that they can stick their nose into. Any sweet smelling flower will also attract them. It’s best to plant flowers in your garden that bloom at different times throughout the season, to continually provide food for the little hummers.
Here are some popular flowers amongst hummingbirds:
1. Bee balm (Monarda): This perennial is a great one for our area and it not only attracts hummingbirds, but butterflies, too. The plant has a minty, citrus-scent scent that both you and the hummingbirds can enjoy. It has clusters of tubular flowers that are found in red, violet, purple, pink and white that bloom all summer. It is a taller perennial that grows to be about 3 to 4 feet wide. It needs full sun but will tolerate some afternoon shade. Space bee balm plants about 18 inches apart. Provide ample water and they'll quickly spread and fill in until they look like one large mass of blooms. To limit their invasive quality, you can plant them in a sunken container or in an area you don’t have to mow or maintain.
2. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis): This perennial has scarlet red blooms that the hummingbirds like and that really pop in your garden. It blooms throughout the summer and is another taller perennial that can grow up to four feet high. Plant in part shade to full sun in moist soil where they will get at least a half a day of sun.
3. Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans): This is a favorite of hummingbirds. Plant this vine in full sun and be sure to provide a climbing support for it that is strong enough to handle it, such as a fence or trellis. It has orange-red blooms all summer and can climb up to 40 feet tall with little to no fertilizer.
4. Salvia (Salvia splendens): Salvia is a great flower for hummingbirds because it blooms throughout the summer. There are a lot of varieties to plant, both annual and perennial, but the most popular among hummingbirds are annuals like black and blue salvia and Lady in Red. These bloom from late spring all the way through the autumn and grow anywhere from 8 to 30 inches high depending on the variety. They all have conical clusters of tubular flowers that come in a variety of colors like red, purple and deep blue. Be sure to pinch the tops of the salvia back once they’re done blooming to encourage branching and more blooms.
5. Fuchsia: These flowers are a great in both hanging baskets and potted containers. Every variety seems to be popular among hummingbirds. They have beautiful blooms that come in a variety of colors including purple, white, pink, red and coral. They are also great flowers for shady spots in your yard. And being one of the few flowers that blooms from late spring to first frost in part to full shade.
6. Columbine (Aquilegia): These hardy perennials have a number of varieties, some which are native to this area. Columbine is an easy plant to grow that will catch the attention of hummingbirds in your garden. These perennials bloom from late spring to early summer and come in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, pink, blue, purple, and white, single or bicolored. Depending on the variety, they can be planted in the shade or full sun. Columbine can be grown from seed in early spring, and while it reseeds easily, the offspring plants may produce less showy flowers.
7. Hollyhock (Alcea rosea): These flowering giants add a lot of height and color to your garden. They are a biennial, meaning they do not bloom their first year planted. It has funnel-shaped or double blooms in numerous bright and pastel hues including red, pink, yellow, white, and purple. They bloom early to midsummer in full sun. Plant seeds in midsummer for blooms the following year.
8. Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana): This flower is a multi-tasker. Not only does it attract butterflies and hummingbirds, but they’re poisonous to rabbits so they’ll leave them alone. This relative of the tobacco plant is also known as nicotiana. They come in a variety of colors, including white, red, pink, lavender, green, and yellow. It is an annual in our zone and will bloom from summer to first frost. They should be planted in partial shade to full sun and prefer rich, moist soil that's well-draining.
9. Honeysuckle trumpet (Lonicera sempervirens): Its elegant blooms attract gardeners and hummingbirds alike. Being a vine, it also needs to have something to climb on, so be sure to give this plant something to latch onto. It will climb your trellis and bloom all summer long with beautiful blooms that are deep red with yellow throats. Plant it in partial to full sun.
10. Red-hot poker (Kniphofia): This bright flower is also known as torch lily. All birds love this beautiful flower, which alternates in color from red, orange, yellow, white, or greenish white or bicolored. With its unique bloom shape and bright color, it will steal the show. It blooms from late spring to autumn and grows to be two to six feet high. These prefer sandy soil and be sure to mulch plants for first winter.
There are a few keys to attracting butterflies to your yard. Butterflies are attracted to broad sunlit areas as they enjoy basking in the sun while feeding. Placing boulders or flat cut‐stone in sunlit areas provide good resting places for these little beauties. A stone wall offers natural shelter from the weather. Butterflies also need shelter from wind and weather which can easily be provided with taller shrubs and trees.
As for plants, most butterflies are attracted to colors in shades of pink, red purple, yellow, and orange.
Choose flower types that produce large flat flower heads, or plants that make clusters of smaller bell shaped or tube shaped flowers.
The following are the different types of annuals and perennials that attract butterflies:
Perennials: Achillea (Yarrow) ● Allium● Aster● Coreopsis ● Delphinium ● Echinacea(Coneflower) Geranium ● Daylily ●Shasta Daisy ● Liatris ● Monarda (Bee Balm) ●Nepeta (Catmint) ● Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan) ● Salvia ● Sedum
Annuals: Ageratum ●Snapdragon ● Dahlia ● Impatiens ● Marigold ● Nasturtium ● Verbena● Violas ● Zinnias