Attracting Bees, Hummingbirds and Butterflies

goldenrodIt’s easy to make your garden a haven for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, and a yard with their motion and color is more interesting.

Most importantly—living things need water. If it makes noise, it’s even better; a slow drip in a birdbath brings a steady stream of visitors. Plant saucers with rocks above water level are perfect for bees, butterflies, and birds. Many commercially purchased birdbaths are too deep or too slippery for birds to feel comfortable. Think shallow and textured to entice them.

Other requirements are both nectar for butterflies, and host plants for the caterpillars that become butterflies. Butterflies like flowers that give them a place to hold on—Lantana and Cone Flowers are good examples of compound flower heads that offer landing and clinging footholds.butterfly-water-dish Bees will use those as well. Look first for native plants since many hybrids are bred to be showy, not nectar-rich. Several nurseries specialize in native plants grown for our climate. Host plants are also essential. Without some chewed leaves there won’t be butterflies; learn to share. After you identify a butterfly, it’s easy to find its host plant on the internet. The North American Butterfly Association is also a good source of information. Verbenas, ruellia, ironweed, asters and goldenrod are potential host plants for many different species of butterflies. Those much maligned hornworm caterpillars turn into dramatic Sphinx moths—the nighttime equivalent of hummingbirds. Plant extra tomatoes or gaura to share and enjoy the evening activity.

hummingbirdHummingbirds love tubular flowers. Although they favor red flowers, they visit other colors as well. If you augment your native Agastache, Coral Honeysuckle, red Penstemons, Bee Balms, and Cherry Sages with feeders, you can have constant entertainment. A word about feeders: hunt for those that are easy to clean since keeping them free of mildew is essential. First Nature has a simple design that works, and it’s made in the U.S. Mix any sugar solution 5 parts water to 1 part sugar to more accurately mimic natural nectar, and no red coloring please. Also change it frequently to eliminate fermentation or mildew.

Please tell the nurseries where you shop, that you saw their ad in our brochure.

Sandi Hoover, Chair
Corrales Garden Tour Committee

 

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