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Hey! By the way… TheEdibleTerrace is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission and as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks in advance for your support!

Planting to Attract Hummingbirds, Birds and Butterflies

Do you want your garden to attract fun animals such as hummingbirds, birds and butterflies? I know I do! Luckily, you don’t have to create three separate areas. In many cases, hummingbirds and butterflies like the same flowers. Birds too for that matter but they need a little more. I will go into that below.

Hummingbirds

attract hummingbirds to garden

A hummingbird-friendly garden includes a variety of flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs that the little birds tend to be attracted to. Some perennial flowers that would be good for hummingbirds are foxglove, bee balm, cardinal flowers, and coral bells. Some annuals that you might want to plant are the petunia, fuchsia, jewelweed, and firespike.

Plants and shrubs to put in your garden to attract hummingbirds are butterfly bush (be careful, these are considered invasive in some states), azalea, cape honeysuckle, mimosa (these trees grow natively up here; they’re gorgeous!), and red buckeye.

Vines to plant for hummingbirds are the morning glory, coral honeysuckle, cypress vine, and trumpet creeper.

More flowers and plants that attract hummingbirds

  • Aloe Vera Blossom
  • Wild Sage
  • Yellow Honeysuckle
  • Lobelia
  • Bee Balm
  • Fuchsia
  • Columbine
  • Zinnia

Keep Only Fresh Blooms

A popular way to encourage both butterflies and hummingbirds to visit your yard is by deadheading. This means you remove old blossoms and keep only fresh ones. Keep an eye on your different flowers and bushes, and remove blooms as soon as they have started to wilt.

By doing this, you ensure the other blooms continue flourishing and have a proper amount of nectar for the birds. Hummingbirds much prefer yards with multiple sources of nectar.

And They Love Bright Colors!

Reds, oranges, yellows, and bright blues will bring them over to your side of the fence. They especially love flowers with tubular petals. This is because the majority of bugs that also love nectar have a devil of a time getting into those flowers, which means more nectar for the hummingbird. After all, their beaks are built to get into tight places. This is why those types of flowers are perfect for attracting hummingbirds.


Birds

Attract birds to garden

How To Attract Wild Birds To Your Yard

There are three main things birds need in a home base: food, water and shelter. And in spring, they also need good nesting sites. So, what can you do to encourage them to come to your backyard and create a home?

Birds are particularly attracted to trees, bushes and vines with edible berries. For example, mulberries, serviceberries and crabapple trees are particular favorites. Recommended shrubs are bayberry, nannyberry and winterberry (holly). Do you want to plant some vines? Then try a wild grape or Virginia creeper.

Additionally, birds need to feel safe when hanging out in your garden so putting shrubs or trees near a water source will bring them in. Recently, in my No Flo home, I bought a bird bath. Moved that thing all over the yard trying to get the birds to use it! I finally settled on a spot in the backyard underneath a stand of trees. The funny part is, that it is right next to my pond where in early evening the birds go and bathe. But they also use the bird bath. Success!

In early Spring, rake up the dead grass (and frozen ground where you can) to not only loosen it but also stir up insects for your avian friends. Do not immediately throw away that loose foliage as the birds will use it for their nests.

When you prune your trees and shrubs, leave that material too in a brush pile, as the birds will shelter in it until your tree leaves have returned.

Were you aware certain species were attracted to specific colors?

  • Red and Pink: Hummingbirds are attracted to these flower colors primarily
  • Orange: Orioles, Hummingbirds
  • Yellow: Goldfinches, Warblers, Hummingbirds
  • Blue: Bluebirds, Jays
  • Camouflage colors such as gray, brown and dull green: Doves, Quail, and other ground feeders

Avoid white flowers. White is used to signal danger to the birds. For example, the white on a mockingbird’s wings alarms our bird friends.

Find natural ways to fertilize or kill insects. Those artificial chemicals are toxic to your favorite flying animals.


Butterflies

attract butterflies to garden

Where you live really determines which plants and flowers are best for attracting butterflies.

You want the plants you grow and the butterflies that come, to complement one another. However, buying the wrong plants for your climate will add to your gardening workload. Do you already know which garden zone you live in? That is half the battle. This link will tell you the zone you live in.

Consider using as many native plants as possible in your garden. The benefits are many. Bringing in exotic (non-native) plants can break the food chain in your yard. A small example. Your local insects may not be able to survive on their new plant diet. This then drives the birds away from your yard because they cannot partake of a meal on your lawn.

Here is a list of flowers that attract butterflies based on the species:

  • American Painted Lady – cudweed, everlast
  • Black Swallowtail – parsley, dill, fennel, common rue
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
  • Monarch – milkweeds * Take note that milkweeds are really the only flowers that attract monarch butterflies.
  • Painted Lady (Cosmopolite) – thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
  • Silver-Spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
  • Viceroy – willows, cottonwood, aspen
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail – willow, plum, alder, sycamore, hoptree, ash
  • Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw

I have a more comprehensive list here.

Create a Resting Spot and a Puddling Area

Just like us, butterflies love to warm themselves in the sun and of course, need water too. To make a butterfly friendly garden, place smooth rocks in sunny places for them to rest.

Bury shallow bowls or buckets of moist sand into the ground (making them flush with the ground) so they can have a drink and keep themselves hydrated. This is called Puddling.

It is believed they do this so they can intake sodium which helps the males reproduce successfully and also helps ensure the eggs survive. I have read that you might want to put a dead or fake butterfly on the sand in order to entice the other butterflies to visit.

Your garden does need to be in the sun for at least five hours each day to attract the butterflies. They love the sun and sunny places.

Click here to download my Printable List: Perennial Flowers That Attract Butterflies

Keep in Mind the Butterfly’s Life Cycle

In order to attract as many as you can, you will need a combination of nectar-rich plants for the adults and host plants for the caterpillars.

This means they are going to be feeding on the plants in the garden so keep this in mind if your leaves look a little (or lot) chewed up. After all, you can’t have those beautiful butterflies without caterpillars, and they can’t grow and make cocoons without proper food!

Choosing the best caterpillar host plants is dependent on the butterfly and the butterfly is dependent on where you live soooo, after you have figured out which butterflies travel through your region, then check out my list of caterpillar host plants here and have a planting party! I even give you a couple garden plans in that article so check it out, k?

Conclusion

There are many plants and flowers that attract these wonderful animals. I’ve put the more popular ones in this post. Creating these oases for our animal friends is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. Urban sprawl is quickly kicking then out of their homes. You can give it back to them in a small way by offering them your yard as a stopping off place.

One last tidbit of advice. Weed your garden frequently. They tend to leach nutrients out of the soil and starve the plants you want to keep in your garden.

Want to have a garden party this year? Check out my article here 8 Garden Party Ideas for Every Season