Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies – Backyard Food Growing

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

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

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

Buddleia – 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.

You May Also Like