Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and exotic creatures in the landscape. A butterfly garden is an easy way to see more butterflies and help them, since many local habitats have been lost to human activities like building homes and roads. It is easy to increase the number and variety of butterflies in your yard. Simply grow the plants on which butterflies like to feed!
Because so many butterflies snack on the same plants your hummingbirds enjoy, this list will work equally well to bring more hummingbirds into the gardens. You win two-fold when actively drawing butterflies into your landscape.
The butterfly garden is full of activity now through fall. Yellow Sulphurs alight on a coneflower, while burnt-orange skippers jostle with bumblebees on oregano and lavender. Monarchs, on their long journey to their winter grounds in Mexico, stop to rest and take nectar from asters and other late-blooming flowers. The bright yellow blossoms of goldenrod are especially favored by Swallowtails and Painted Ladies. A host of beneficial insects and birds looking for an insect meal enjoy your gardens at the same time.
Red Salsa Coneflowers and Arizona Sun Blanket Flower attract butterflies through September, forming handsome seed heads that eventually feed your birds. Autumn Joy Sedums draw butterflies to dusty-pink blossoms, which darken to create a dramatic accent in late fall and winter. Ornamental grasses often change color in the fall and form exciting seed heads. Skipper caterpillars feed on grasses and often overwinter at the base of grasses.
Ignition Purple Salvia are notably heat and drought tolerant and this petite sage explodes with dark purple buds that open to vibrant purple flowers through summer and fall. The flowers are utterly irresistible to local butterflies and serve as a quick pick-me-up for migrating hummingbirds. Here is the best part: javelina and rabbits find this knee-high perennial absolutely repugnant! There are so many colors from which to choose – available in several forms of red, pink, white and apricot – that many gardeners collect them like some might collect roses or daylily. Each is so hardy it will naturalize once established.
Hummingbirds ingest half their weight in food every day. Flowering plants provide the nectar and tiny insects provide the protein busy hummingbirds need to keep going. Hummingbirds visit a vast array of plants but especially enjoy any plants that display a tubular-shaped flower that is brightly colored. Strategically place a feeder surrounded by these suggested plants and enjoy as more and more humming visitors attend the banquet.
Balboa Sunset Trumpet Vine is a local butterfly and hummingbird magnet. Clusters of deeper red 4-inch flowers cover the plant. Expect lightning quick coverage up a trellis to mask old fences and sheds, or accenting a beautiful courtyard wall. Plant more Balboa Sunsets and you will have more winged visitors guaranteed.
Diversity is the key to a dynamic landscape full of hummingbird antics and more butterflies at rest in your gardens. Provide them food and housing, and the number of visitors to the garden will grow each season. A detailed listing of local butterfly and hummingbird plants is available free for the asking to my garden readers. Simply ask for the garden guide titled “Plants that Attract Butterflies & Hummers” for a detailed list of local plants.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping locals attract more hummingbirds and butterflies here at Watters Garden Center. QCBN
By Lisa Watters-Lain
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through her website at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .