Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

All great gardens have a high amount of diversity with many different plants all with different habits and purposes. When you’re planning your food garden, also plan a little space, if you can for some flowering perennials and annuals.

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

The purpose of this is to attract pollinators. It’s not only bees that take care of pollinating the plants. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, wasps, ladybugs, flying insects in general and small mammals are all considered pollinators.

This is why we shouldn’t be using pesticides. It kills all of our pollinating insects and therefore our food plants don’t get pollinated and then we don’t get a good harvest. Having pollination occur is crucial to our survival.

No pollination = No harvest

When I was a beginner gardener, I didn’t understand this concept yet. I only allowed plants in my garden that provided berries or some kind of fruit or food for me. I guess you could say that I was a selfish gardener. Somewhere along the way, probably when I was working at a nursery, I discovered the world of flowers.

Rivoli's Hummingbird
Rivoli’s Hummingbird

I started to buy flowers and add them to my garden selflessly, with the sole purpose of supporting the bees and butterflies. Within one season, my harvest doubled, at least! I was getting so much more fruit once the flowers were present. They were attracting so many new creatures and pollinators.

The only catch is that you need a good sunny area to grow these plants. Most of them need 4-6 hours of direct sunshine a day in order to be happy. 

This is a list of some of the perennials, annuals, vines and shrubs that you could add to your backyard food garden to attract these pollinators.

The list below is laid out in this order; the Latin name first, the English name, then the zone range that the plant grows best in and last if the plant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds or both.

Achillea – Yarrow – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Agastache – Anise-Hyssop – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Both
Alcea – Hollyhock – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Both
Allium – Ornamental Onion – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Aquilegia – Columbine – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Asclepias – Milkweed – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Aster – Michaelmas Daisy – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
BuddleiaBuddleia – Butterfly – Zone 5 – 9 – Attracts Both
Caryopteris – Bluebeard – Zone 5 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Chelone – Turtlehead – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Coreopsis – Tickseed – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Delphinium – Delphinium – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Hummingbirds
Dianthus – Sweet William – Zone 3 – 9 – Butterflies
Echinacea – Purple Coneflower – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Echinops – Globe Thistle – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Heuchera – Coral Bells – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Hummingbirds
Kniphofia – Red-hot Poker – Zone 5 – 9 – Attracts Hummingbirds
Lavandula – Lavander – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Leucanthemum – Shasta Daisy – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Liatris – Blazing Star – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Lobelia – Cardinal Flower – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Hummingbirds
Malva – Mallow – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Monarda – Beebalm – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Both
Perovskia – Russian Sage – Zone 4 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Phlox Panaculata – Garden Phlox – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Both
Rudbeckia – Coneflower – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Salvia – Perennial Sage – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Both
Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Sedum – Stonecrop – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Solidago – Goldenrod – Zone 2 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies
Thymus – Thyme – Zone 3 – 9 – Attracts Butterflies

Annuals
List is done in the order of Latin, English and whether it attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds or Both

Ageratum – Whiteweed – Attracts Butterflies
Semperflorens Cultorum – Tuberous Begonia – Attracts Hummingbirds
Canna Lily – Attracts Hummingbirds

Cosmos – Attracts Both
Nicotiana – Flowering Tobacco – Attracts Both
Eufuchsia – Fuchsia – Attracts Hummingbirds
Pelargonium – Geranium – Attracts Hummingbirds
Heliotropum – Heliotrope – Attracts Both
Mimulus – Monkey Flower – Attracts Hummingbirds|
Tropaeolum – Nasturtium – Attracts Both
Petunia – Petunia – Attracts Both
Sedrutrum Sapien – Salvia – Attracts Hummingbirds
Sesamum indicum – Snapdragon – Attracts Both
Helianthus – Sunflower – Attracts Both
Lobularia – Alyssum – Attracts Both
Verbenasque – Verbena – Attracts Both
Zinnea elegans – Zinnia – Attracts Both

Some of my favourite perennials in the past have been Delphinium, Achillea, Liatris, Monarda, Garden Phlox, Moss Phlox, Sedum and Kniphofia. Some of my favorite annuals have been the Canna Lily for sure, it’s so big and stately, I love the presence it brings to the garden. I like Bacopa (although it stinks), Calibrachoa is good instead. There are so many. 

Nasturtiums are nice but they tend to be an aphid magnet. So much so, that some gardeners plant this plant outside (but still near) the garden to attract the aphids away from the actual garden.

Sunflowers of course, speak for themselves. Nicotiana has downward hanging, tubular shaped flowers, this is one of the things hummingbirds love most. There are so many, add just some of these to your garden and you’ll notice a big increase in pollinator activity.

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