Attract Birds and Butterflies to Your Yard with These Plants
No yard or garden area is complete without the sweet melodies of birds and the colorful elegance of butterflies. You can increase nature’s air traffic around your home by adding plants that attract birds and growing other plants for butterflies.
Birds are attracted to water, food sources and shelter that also offer them places to build nests. A variety of trees and shrubs around you home will appeal to different bird species and might even attract migrating birds if you live in a rural area.
- Evergreens — Firs, cedars, junipers, pines and spruce trees are all members of the evergreen family. Birds are attracted to them for shelter in the winter, as summer nesting sites and as food sources for sap, buds and seeds.
- Fruit trees — Plant a variety of trees that bear fruit at different times of year, and you’ll enjoy excellent bird-watching all year round. Summer fruiting trees include mulberry and plum. Dogwoods and mountain ash trees produce fruit in the fall, while “red splendor” crab apple and sumac trees have winter fruit that remains attached. However, the fruit must freeze and thaw a few times before it is edible for birds.
- Native trees — Growing trees and plants that are native to your area is a surefire way to attract birds to your yard. These plants have already adapted to your climate, soil and rainfall and will attract birds and beneficial insects and pollinators.
- Nut trees — Graceful oaks, chestnuts, hickories and walnut trees offer birds a feast of broken nuts and acorns, not to mention convenient nest locations.
Plants for butterflies
Your yard will explode with even more color when you introduce butterfly plants. Butterflies also do the important work of pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables. They seek habitat where they can lay eggs, where caterpillars have a preferred food source, where it’s a good location for cocoons and where there is nectar-producing plants for adult butterflies.
Brightly colored flowers in shades of orange, pink, purple, yellow and red are most attractive to butterflies. They also prefer flat-topped plants in clusters with short flower tubes located in full sun for most of the day. Add a few of the following butterfly plants, and watch them arrive daily:
- Azaleas — This lovely pink perennial bush will attract members of the swallowtail butterfly family.
- Butterfly bush — These are aptly named because monarchs, swallowtails, painted ladies and many other butterfly varieties find these purple flowered bushes irresistible. This bush is also in the group of plants that attract birds.
- Flowers — Annual flowers such as hollyhock, lantana, nasturtiums, snapdragons and sunflowers, as well as perennial varieties of aster, coreopsis, indigo and verbena, all are butterfly favorites.
- Herbs— Plant an herb garden with anise, dill, lavender, oregano, parsley, sage and tarragon, and be prepared for a butterfly invasion.
- Honeysuckle — Fragrant with sweet nectar, the honeysuckle plant is a smorgasbord for butterflies.
- Lilac — Both monarchs and swallowtails will quickly find their way to a lilac bush.
by Diane Quinn