Adult butterflies and hummingbirds like many of the same nectar plants. For a garden that attracts winged beauties to your yard, you also need to include food plants for butterflies at the larval stage. When planning a wildlife habitat, employ organic practices. Even so-called safer pesticides can eradicate butterflies. Keeping your garden ecosystem healthy benefits all wildlife that visit it.
Flowering Shrubs for Structure
Flowering shrubs play an important role in the wildlife garden. They not only provide nectar flowers but also give hummers and butterflies a place to rest and find shade. Arrange suitably sized shrubs around the perimeter of your garden. Position them so that they do not shade your sun-loving perennials. Choose early-blooming shrubs such as lilac, viburnum, blueberry and rhododendron. Native blooming shrubs are always well suited to area wildlife.
Perennial Flowers for Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are drawn to bright colors, and red is their favorite. Include red bee balm, such as Monarda didyma "Jacob Cline," and Crocosmia "Lucifer" to catch their attention. Secondary color choices are orange and yellow. Once the hummers are drawn by the hue of these flowers, they will visit nearby flowers too. Hummingbirds can drink easiest from tubular and funnel-shaped blooms. Plant foxglove, columbine, bleeding heart and penstemon to meet their needs. Choose early, midseason and late-blooming perennials to keep them well fed.
Perennial Flowers for Adult Butterflies
Butterflies are also drawn to brightly colored flowers. They seem partial to pink and purple. Unlike hummingbirds, butterflies are also attracted to a flower's scent, so choose the most fragrant perennials to lure butterflies. They must land on flowers to sip nectar, so choose those with flattened shapes. Two favorites are purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). Butterflies land well on clustered flowers like Jupiter's beard (Centranthus ruber) and gayfeather (Liatris spicata).
Plants to Feed Emerging Larvae
Plants that feed butterfly larvae are not always the showy ones. Many species need specific food plants. Study the types of butterflies common to your area, and plant what they need. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) is the first choice for a number of butterflies. California lilac (Ceanothus spp.) is an attractive larvae shrub for temperate regions. Other choice larvae plants are violet, monkey flower and lupine. A complex mixture of regional wildflowers will likely meet the larval needs in your garden.
All Living Things Need Water
Even though hummingbirds rely on nectar as a main source for food, they need water in hot weather. They will seek out a birdbath or even a bowl of water. Given a choice, they prefer the spray from a fountain.
Butterflies prefer anything that resembles a mud puddle. They will use a bowl but prefer shallow water to land in. A bowl of sand with a small amount of water suits them fine.