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Plant a Garden that Attracts Birds and Butterflies

There are few things more dreamy than a beautiful garden--except a beautiful garden teeming with gorgeous birds and butterflies! You can add to your garden’s beauty by planting flowers, shrubs and trees that provide food and shelter for birds and butterflies.

Here’s a snapshot of some plants you can incorporate into your garden:

Flowers for Birds

  • Aster
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Sunflower

Birds go crazy for the seed heads on coneflowers, and they go really crazy for the seeds on sunflowers!

Nectar Plants for Hummingbirds

People are just fascinated by hummingbirds!

  • Bee balm
  • Columbine
  • Delphinium
  • Fuchsia
  • Honeysuckle
  • Jewel weed
  • Lobelia
  • Penstemon
  • Phlox
  • Salvia
  • Trumpet creeper

You can also set out a special hummingbird feeder; they sport a bright red lid or bright red flowers for the birds to sip from. Fill the feeder with sugar water, which is one part sugar to four parts water. You can boil the mixture or simply use the hottest tap water possible so that the sugar dissolves. Drain and wash the feeder with warm soap and water every three to four days, and refill it with fresh sugar water. You may even see hummingbirds fighting over feeder territory or swooping up and down in mating rituals.

Vines for Birds

  • American bittersweet
  • Native honeysuckle
  • Strawberry
  • Trumpet creeper
  • Virginia creeper
  • Wild grape

If you have wild strawberry vine in your lawn, you may spot birds plucking the tiny sweet fruits to eat!

Shrubs for Birds

Shrubs not only provide food for birds, but cover from predators, as well. Larger birds, such as hawks, are known to swoop down on feeders to prey on smaller birds, especially in winter when other food sources are scarce.

  • Common juniper
  • Highbush blueberry
  • Holly
  • Pyracantha
  • Red-osier dogwood
  • Serviceberry
  • Spicebush
  • Sumac
  • Viburnum
  • Wax myrtle

Trees for Birds

  • American beech
  • American holly
  • Apple
  • Balsam fir
  • Black cherry
  • Black gum
  • Cottonwood
  • Crabapple
  • Flowering dogwood
  • Hawthorn
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Red mulberry

Nectar Plants for Butterflies

Butterflies are such beautiful creatures that they sip flower nectar for nourishment!

  • Aster
  • Azalea
  • Butterfly bush
  • Butterfly milkweed and other milkweeds
  • Coneflowers
  • Lantana
  • Lupine
  • Phlox
  • Zinnia

Plants for Caterpillars

Don’t squish that worm! It may be the larval stage of a soon-to-be beautiful butterfly. These plants provide important habitat for caterpillars; you’ll have even more gorgeous butterflies gracing your garden!

  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Butterfly milkweed and other milkweeds
  • Dill
  • Hollyhock
  • Senna
  • Sorrel
  • Spicebush
  • Willow

If you want to attract as many birds and butterflies as possible to your garden, give native plants priority over non-native plants when you’re making your selections at the garden store. You’ll also want a variety of plants. And be sure to select different plants that bloom and fruit at different times throughout the season.

You can also add bird houses and bird feeders to your yard to attract even more birds. Black oil sunflower seeds attract many birds, including titmouse, nuthatch and chickadee. Finches and pine siskins love thistle; this include goldfinches, purple finches and house finches. You can place plain suet in a suet feeder for woodpeckers and wrens. And stunning neon orange and black orioles love citrus fruit on a nail.

You can also add a water feature, such as a birdbath, saucer or backyard pond. Butterflies will sip water from very shallow depressions in rocks. Place rocks with tiny reservoirs as decoration throughout your garden; when you water the garden, water will collect on the rocks, which will attract butterflies.

And you shouldn’t use pesticides, insecticides or herbicides of any kind in your yard. Birds, and especially butterflies, are extremely sensitive to them. They will either avoid your yard, or worse yet, die or become ill if they visit it.

If you’re not allergic to bees, you might be interested in attracting these beneficial creatures to your yard as well. Most bees in the U.S. are solitary, friendly bees. They nest in holes in the ground or bore into twigs and dead tree limbs. They don’t have hives to protect, so they’re not aggressive. They pollinate many different kinds of plants. If it weren’t for bees, you wouldn’t eat almonds or cherries. As a matter of fact, 30 percent of the human diet is made possible by bees! Bees can increase the quality and quantity of any fruits and vegetables that you grow.

Plants for Bees

Bees like almost all flowering plants. Blue and yellow flowers are their very favorite.

  • Bee balm
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Cardinal flower
  • Clover
  • Cosmos
  • Grape myrtle
  • Goldenrod
  • Lupine
  • Mallow
  • Milkweed
  • Mint
  • Sunflower

You can also make a bee house with scrap lumber. Use a piece of wood that’s about three to five inches thick. Drill holes about 1/8 to 5/16-inch in diameter about 90 percent of the way into the block. Space the holes about ½ inch to ¾ inch apart. Hang the block under the eaves of your house or shed, out of direct sun and rain. The 5/16- inch holes work great for orchard bees, who pollinate fruit trees. That’s good news if you have any apple, pear, peach or cherry trees!

With the beauty of your garden accented by beautiful birds and butterflies, you’ll think you’re in the garden of Eden!





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