A popular garden trend is planting to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Both are drawn to nectar-rich flowers, adding activity, sound and beauty to your garden.
In early May, I know hummingbirds have returned when they visit my quince bushes. Right now my quince hedge is fully budded and the blossoms will open soon, just in time for my summer visitors. Their arrival is a happy day for me! Providing a sequence of bloom all spring, summer and into autumn assures these visitors will find my yard a welcoming habitat. Hanging baskets of annuals like fuchsia, petunia, thunbergia and million-bells (Calibrachoa) in bright red, orange or pink are highly attractive. Tubular flowers like agastache, penstemon, crocosmia, monarda, kniphofia, salvia and lobelia are magnets to hummingbirds.
Many people use hummingbird feeders to supplement flowers, however, sugar water not only attracts hornets and flies, it lacks the vitamins and minerals found in flower nectar. If you do keep a feeder, be sure to clean it weekly to avoid potentially harmful mold and bacteria that can adversely affect hummingbirds.
Butterflies love many of the same flowers as hummingbirds, however, choosing native plants that they are naturally adapted to provides food for both larvae and adults. Learn to identify the larvae of your favorite butterflies so that they are not mistaken for pests. Realizing that you are planting a garden with plants that are intended to be riddled with holes seems contrary, but if you want to successfully attract butterflies, provide for the entire life cycle.
Some plants, such as milkweed and joe-pye-weed, are used by both larvae and adults, while others provide nectar for the adult butterflies that we love to see flitting about our gardens. Coneflower, gaillardia, phlox, goldenrod, liatris, New England aster, sedum and black-eyed Susan are highly favored perennials. Trumpet vine and honeysuckle are popular vines. Azalea, lilac and blueberry are good shrub choices. Zinnia, lantana, verbena and impatiens are frequently visited annuals.
Situate larval food plants toward the back of your border or in a spot where their chewed leaves won’t bother you. Train yourself to cheer their tattered appearance! Refrain from using pesticides anywhere in your yard. Plan for a succession of bloom all season long to attract the maximum number of species. Click this website link for information and photos to help identify butterfly and moth species, their ideal habitat, favorite flowers and larval host plants.
Attracting winged creatures to your garden adds color, vitality and greater enjoyment for you in your garden, while simultaneously ensuring the survival of our winged friends.