The Q&A Archives: Birds and Butterflies

Question: I am beginning a flower garden and would like to know which plants would be good host plants/flowers and which other plants/flowers would be good to attract birds and butterflies. I get mostly afternoon sun but have several plams and shade trees. Thanks Pat

Answer: Pat,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!

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.

Hummingbirds are generally attracted to plants that have red tubular flowers such as firebush, coral vine, rock penstemon, and red yucca. They also like Salvia guaranitica, trumpet vine, red or yellow columbines and cardinal climber vine.

Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

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