Attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden is not difficult if you meet their needs. For example, they need nectar, which is their food, and they also like some of the same plants. Hummingbirds prefer tubular shaped flowers, which they hover over while they feed. While butterflies also like this type of flower, they also like a flower head with a broad surface that they can land on to feed.
Both hummingbirds and butterflies need water. Hummingbirds like a mist of water and will enjoy the spray from a fountain, and butterflies like puddles on the ground. To help, sink a shallow bird bath bowl into the ground so the lip is level with the surrounding ground. Fill it with sand and then saturate the sand with water. The butterflies will land on the wet sand and drink the water.
While hummingbirds build their nests, butterflies need specific host plants to lay their eggs. These plants provide the food for the caterpillar stage of the butterfly to feed. If you want to be sure of attracting and keeping butterflies in your yard, you need to provide these plants, too. In the case of the monarch butterfly, the host plant is milkweed. Milkweed excretes a milky sap that doesn’t taste good to humans but is a delicious source of sustenance for monarchs. By planting Milkweed (by the way, it’s not actually a weed!), your yard will be a popular butterfly destination. The swallowtail butterfly is a little more problematic. Their caterpillar stage loves to grow and feast on herbs like dill, parsley and fennel. You have to be willing to share your garden with them if you grow those herbs.
Don’t worry–there are plenty more options! Here are a few favorites of hummingbirds and butterflies.
With its tubular shaped flowers, the salvia is a favorite annual that attracts hummingbirds. While they are attracted to the color red, they will enjoy all colors of salvia–even the black and blue varieties. Salvia will bloom throughout the summer, and deadheading will occasionally encourage even more flowers.
Lupine is a perennial that is fairly short-lived but self-seeds in the garden. Lupine sends up a long stem covered with tubular shaped flowers that the hummingbirds love. These flowers bloom in late spring.
Columbine is a spring-blooming perennial that will provide nectar when other plants have not yet flowered. Their tubular shaped flowers provide nectar for the hummingbirds, and they come in multiple colors that will fit in any garden.
4. Begonia Funky Scarlet.
This shade-loving plant is perfect for hanging baskets with its long draping stems that are covered in tubular shaped flowers. The flowers are a brilliant scarlet red and will draw the hummingbirds to your yard all summer.
5. Butterfly Weed Plant.
This plant was named the perennial of the year in 2017 for good reason. The butterfly weed seed will grow in almost any soil conditions and can tolerate almost any climate. The butterfly weed is easy to grow and is covered with large, orange flower heads that butterflies love. It blooms in late summer the first year and from early summer until frost every subsequent year.
6. Morning Glories.
Morning glories are vining flowers that have been a favorite for decades. Used to cover fences, buildings and walls, these are one of the easiest vines to grow. They love the sun and will tolerate dry soils. Most gardeners think of the traditional blue morning glories, but they now come in multiple colors–even red! The tubular shaped flowers cover the vines that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
7. Bee Balm.
Bee balm is an easy-to-grow perennial that comes in shades of pink and red. As its name indicates, it is loved by all pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Sunflowers, with their huge flower heads, are very attractive to butterflies. If you haven’t checked recently, sunflowers come in many colors and sizes. You don’t have to plant the towering sunflowers of old. The varieties available today come in heights that will fit in any garden. This is one of the best flowers to attract butterflies.
Petunias are one of the easiest annual flowers to grow in containers or garden beds. The tubular flowers of almost every color are attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds.
10. Four O’Clocks.
This old-time favorite is making a comeback with its unusual broken color. Unlike most flowers that bloom all day and close in the evening, the Four O’Clocks first open in late afternoon. This timing is great for the hummingbirds and the butterflies, as well as the gardener returning home after work. The additional uniqueness of the broken flower color makes this a flower for every garden.These are just a few of the flowers that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Remember that you must never use pesticides or insecticides in your garden if you are trying to keep the pollinators.