The Q&A Archives: Attracting Wildlife

Question: I need a short list of trees , shrubs and vines to help fill my yard with birds and butterflies.I have morning sun in the frontyard and sun in the backyard all day. Thank you for your help Milton

Answer: Butterflies have specific favorite host plants to lay their eggs on. The plant the caterpillars feed on are not necessarily the ones the adults are attracted to. Therefore you will want to plant a variety of species for both larvae and adults.

Most butterflies feed on flowers (like members of the sunflower or zinnia family) with large exposed sites to easily obtain nectar. They are attracted to gardens with lots of color, especially bright, vibrant colors with striking contrasts.

The following plants are listed by planting times:

Fall (Annuals & Perennials): asters, Shasta daisy, purple coneflower, hollyhocks (larval host plant), nicotiana, petunia, phlox, coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, Gaillardia, Pincushion flower, salvia.

Fall (Wildflowers): Milkweed (larval host plant), Butterfly Weed (larval host plant), desert aster, desert zinnia, Arizona zinnia, tithonia or Mexican sunflower, Joe-Pye weeds, ox-eye daisy, gilias, verbena, Bigelow's Aster, Indian paintbrush, purple coneflower, phlox, desert globe-mallow (larval host plant), Black-eyed Susan, any sunflower family member, coreopsis, liatris, pentas, Jupiter's beard, coral bells.

Spring (Annuals): cosmos, sunflowers, French marigolds (tagetes spp.), zinnias, verbena, and some salvias.

Herbs: yarrow, hyssop, mints, lavender, bee balm, rosemary, catnip, pineapple sage.

There are many plants that attract birds. Delphinium, monkshood, bee balm, morning glories, roses, sunflowers, lilacs are some flowers that birds like. Berry bushes such as cranberry bush viburnum, nannyberry, honeysuckle, mountain ash, barberries, cotoneaster, hawthorne, snowberries, dogwood and buckthorn offer fruit, some of them into the winter. Evergreen shrubs offer protection and nesting. The key is to provide a variety of conditions; some open lawn, some low growing cover, some larger shrubs and trees and food source. Birds are also attracted to water, such as bird baths. Have fun!

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