Your backyard can come alive with beautiful birds and butterflies when you know the right plants and features to add to your garden. Your yard is a place to relax and enjoy, and enhancing it naturally to attract these beautiful species will create your very own nature oasis.
Setting up the right environment to attract creatures can be easy to do with a little time and effort. Birds, butterflies, bees and other critters will come to your yard looking for three main things – food, water and shelter. They find this through trees, shrubs, grasses, vines and flowering plants which provide food, shelter and places to nest. The more plants the better! It is important to select native plants for your gardens, meaning plants which occur naturally in the area where you live. Native plants offer some of the best nectar needed by pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They also require less maintenance than non-native species because they are perfectly suited to the soil and climate. Always refrain from using pesticides, including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, etc.
• Select flowers in red, yellow, orange, pink and purple, as butterflies are attracted to these colours.
• The plants you choose for nectar for butterflies should receive full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, as they generally feed only in the sun.
• Choose plants that continuously bloom, as butterflies need nectar throughout the adult phase of their life span.
• Butterflies need a place to rest and warm their wings for flight, so find a sunny spot to place flat stones in your garden.
• Some recommended native plants for butterflies include black eyed susan, blazing star, evening primrose, swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, wild lupine and bergamot.
• Birds are looking for food sources, so choose plants which provide fruit, seeds, sap and beneficial insects birds feed upon.
• Place a bird bath in your yard to provide a place for birds to bathe and drink. Birds prefer shallow basins with a rough surface for good gripping.
• Choose shrubs and trees that are dense enough to support nests.
• Provide a spot in your garden for native tall and ornamental grasses to attract several species, and leave them to stand into the winter for a supply of seeds. Plant grasses such as big bluestem, indian grass and switchgrass.
by Tracey Allison