Tips on the plantings and extras that attract winged wildlife

Judy Wigand with Sharon Cohoon,  – December 28, 2005

Plants they love
Below are the top wildlife plants at the Brighams’ nursery in San Marcos, California.

Hummingbird plants
• Alstroemeria hybrids.
Evergreen perennials. Pink, purple, orange, or white flowers. Peak in spring and summer.

• Bottlebrush (Callistemon). Large shrub or small tree. Red flowers. Peaks in spring and summer.

• Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos). Perennial. Red, yellow, or green flowers. Spring through fall.

• Nicotiana. Perennials grown as annuals. White, pink, red tubular flowers. Peaks in summer and early fall.

• Penstemon. Perennials. Reds and blues predominate. Spring and summer bloom, depending on species.

• Salvia. Perennials and shrubs. Lots of blues and reds, plus but many other colors. Spring through fall.

Butterfly plants
• Butterfly bush
(Buddleja). Shrub. Flowers mostly in shades of purple. Peaks in summer.

• Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Perennial. Clusters of orange or yellow flowers in summer.

• Lantana. Shrub grown as annual in cold climates. Wide range of colors ― lavender to yellow, orange, and white. Long bloom season.

• Pincushion flower (Scabiosa). Annuals and perennials. Blue, pink, and white flowers in spring and summer.

• Verbena. Perennials often grown as annual. Purples, pinks, reds. Summer and fall bloom.

Other amenities

• Babysitting services.
Provide larval-food plants for the butterflies common to your area: milkweed for monarchs, fennel for anise swallowtail, and buckwheat for hairstreaks. Add birdhouses, and set out piles of nesting material for birds: pine needles and small pieces of string.

• Mineral water. Butterflies need minerals and salts in their diet as well as sugar. One place they get it from is mud, so give them a permanent puddle. Dig a shallow depression, line it with pebbles, and keep the soil moist.

• Dust baths. Birds like their dirt dry. They ruffle their feathers in it to rid themselves of parasites. Set aside a few square feet for them, bordered with rocks or brick, and fill the area with loose, sandy soil.

• Tanning salon. Butterflies enjoy basking in the sun. Provide some flat rocks for them in an area protected from the wind by shrubs.