Butterflies and hummingbirds are beautiful little creatures that are fun to watch and easy to attract by offering the food that they need. Both creatures live on nectar, the sugary solution that many flowers make for the sole purpose of attracting pollinators–animals that fertilize the flowers by inadvertently transporting pollen from flower to flower while feeding.
How to Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Garden
Using Butterfly and Hummingbird Feeders versus Flowers
People who don’t have a green thumb may feel that it’s easier to attract butterflies and hummingbirds using feeders, and feeders are certainly an option. However, feeding pollinators in this way is rather high-maintenance and can be expensive, requiring the purchase of liquid or powdered sugar mixtures that are poured into specially designed feeders.
Nectar feeders can attract ants, drip sticky liquid, and need frequent nectar changes and cleaning…a lot of work. By contrast, planting certain low-maintenance perennial plants that butterflies and hummingbirds feed from can attract these pollinators naturally, and allows Mother Nature do most of the work.
Feeders are still a great option, though, as long as you maintain it regularly. You can even make your own sweet liquid to feed these beautiful creatures to save money. Hang the feeder outside a window you are normally near so that you can enjoy seeing them each day.
Growing Plants that Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds
There are many easy-to-grow perennial plants that pollinators love to feed from. Perennials are plants that come back year after year, so only need to be planted once, and most require very little care, other than watering when there is little rain, and occasional feeding; overall, much less work than maintaining feeders.
Most plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds do need full or at least partial sun, so should be planted in a sunny area of the yard that is easy to view. Be careful not to apply pesticides to pollinator-attracting plants. These poisons are unhealthy for hummingbirds and can be deadly to butterflies and caterpillars.
Plants that Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds
There are many different plants that attract these pollinators, here are just a few that are easy to find, easy to grow, and that bloom throughout most of the growing season.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacia purpurea)
The purple coneflower is a wildflower native to US prairies, but also a common perennial sold in nurseries and even easily grown from seed. This plant can grow to nearly 40”, is extremely hardy and drought resistant, has a long bloom time, and requires little care; a perfect low-maintenance nectar producer.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)
Butterfly bushes also attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. The plant is woody and tall (can reach more than 5 feet in height) so requires some space and at least partial sun. Butterfly bushes produce cone-shaped inflorescences composed of tiny flowers.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
This perennial is also naturally a wildflower that can tolerate poor soil, so it is hardy and easy to grow. Preferring full sun, these plants grow to a height of 18 – 36” and produce bunches of bright orange flowers throughout spring and summer.
There are many more plants, in a wide range of heights and colors, that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Choose something that grows well in your area and that you’ll enjoy looking at each day.
Creating a nice, relaxing space for butterflies and hummingbirds to enjoy some high-quality nectar can be simple and very rewarding. Enjoy the process, knowing that you have created a special spot for some local wildlife to refuel.