Everyone enjoys a flower garden. The bright colors and wonderful smells are inviting to our senses. But how do we create a flower garden that is also inviting to hummingbirds and butterflies? Here are a few ideas to make your garden a playground for our winged friends.
We have several types of hummingbirds that visit the Pacific Northwest, including the two most common varieties – the Rufous and the Anna’s. The Anna’s hummingbird has a bright violet forehead and chin that shines in the light when they are showing off. It is more common on the Pacific coast, but has been known to come inland for warmer months. The Rufous hummingbird is a year-round resident in the PNW and is likely to be seen on either side of the cascades.
At just 3.5”, they are tiny. But the Rufous must not know how small it is, because it will aggressively protect its food source, dive-bombing invaders and chittering in the trees above to show its displeasure.
All hummingbirds are interested in four main things:
– Bright flowers with tubular-shaped blossoms
– Nectar feeders
– Shallow water sources
– Small flying insects
Some of the best hummingbird plants to grow in our area include Lantana, Salvia, Columbine, Trumpet Vine, and Honeysuckle. In addition to food sources, they enjoy having space to hover and shallow water to dip in for a bath.
The Pacific Northwest is home to a large variety of butterflies including swallowtails, whites, and coppers. In addition, we have lots of beautiful moths in our area. The easiest way to tell if you are looking at a moth or a butterfly is by examining the antennae. Butterflies have thread-like antennae that end in small balls. Moths have just about any other antennae type imaginable. Both sides of the Cascades have butterflies and it is possible to create a butterfly garden in almost any climate.
There are a few things that butterflies really enjoy:
– Water source
– Warming rocks
– Bright, fragrant, flowers with flat blossoms or short tubes
Butterflies love to sunbathe. Giving them a variety of places to land and enjoy the sun in your garden is a great start to encouraging their visit. Large flat stones work well for this. Remember, butterflies are susceptible to wind, so make sure to place your butterfly garden in a protected area, away from gusts of wind.
Overripe fruit and bright, fragrant flowers are wonderful food sources for butterflies. Some excellent flower options include phlox, verbena, Agastache, asters, and butterfly bush. Including shallow puddles for water is a wonderful point of interest. Use a birdbath or shallow pan to create this water source. Fill it with water and then place rocks in the water to create spots for butterflies to land and reach the water.
Hummingbirds & Butterflies
When we look at creating a flower garden for both hummingbirds and butterflies, it is easy to see that there are overlaps in their needs. Looking at a complete list, you are sure to have your own garden humming with life. Make sure to include the following to maximize your efforts for both species.
– Bright flowers with both flat and tubular blossoms
– Nectar feeders
– Open spaces protected from wind
– Shallow water source
– Warming rocks
– Small perches either in trees or bushes
You don’t have to start with a blank canvas to have a wonderful and inviting butterfly and hummingbird garden. So when you are ready to plant your garden, keep the main points above in mind and have fun. Make it colorful. Make it sunny. And make it hum.