Creating A Butterfly And Hummingbird Garden

Creating A Butterfly And Hummingbird Garden
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Create a Butterfly And Hummingbird GardenCreating a garden space that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds doesn't have to be expensive or work intensive. Any size space can be converted to a lovely nature friendly space with a little creativity. 

The first step is deciding where to put the new garden space. Choose a spot in full sun or very light shade. The following will work well without too having to give up too much space. 

1. A corner of a front or back yard. A split rail fence or other type of fence is always a nice backdrop but not a necessity. 

2. Any size square plot such as a 5 foot by 5 foot space. 

3. A strip of soil anywhere from 3-5 foot wide and 8-10 foot long. It can be against a building or a fence.


The soil should be fairly fertile, and not too dry or too wet. Average soil is fine, and can be easily amended if need be. The only caution I would give would be placing it away from a play area because there will also be a fair amount of bees that are attracted to this type of garden.

What plants will attract the butterflies and hummingbirds? The first plant, which really does live up to its name is a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia). The butterflies flock to this bush, which makes it the perfect anchor for your new garden space. Plant it in the back, centered, and plan the rest of the garden around this beautiful bush. 

Sowing annuals from seed is the most inexpensive method of creating a butterfly garden. If a Butterfly Bush is not in your budget, skip it the first year and save the spot with yard art or consider a trellis for annual vining plants such as Morning Glory in its place. Sow seeds once the space is dug, and the anchor trellis, plant or art is in place.  The following are excellent choices:





Morning Glories







Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)



Bachelor Button


Spider Flower(Clemone)






Hollyhock (a bi-annual)


Create a Butterfly And Hummingbird Garden

Many of these can be bought as bedding plants from local nurseries, but sowing from seed will give you more flowers for less money. 

When looking for plants to provide nectar for butterflies consider these characteristics that the University of Georgia advises are essential: 

-sweet, pungent and highly fragrant flowers

-red, purple, orange, yellow or pink flower colors

-simple, open flowers


While starting out with annuals is a great way to go, there are also many perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds besides butterfly bushes. While perennials can be costly, remember to watch for bargains and sales.

Consider adding one perennial a year to your garden or landscape. Don't be afraid to ask family and friends for plants. Many of my perennials are from fellow gardeners that needed a plant divided or had too many volunteers in their garden. The following are recommended:

Trumpet Vine(Campsis radicans)

Hibiscus (any variety)

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Calamint(Calamintha grandiflora)


These are just a few of the perennials that will attract butterflies, as well as hummingbirds. Remember the advice from the University of Georgia listed above when hunting for the perfect perennial. 

Many of the plants listed will be used as nectar for the butterflies, but some will be host plants for the caterpillar. Mixing host plants such as dill, butterfly weed, nasturtium, spider flowers or coneflowers with other plants on the list provides everything the butterflies will need for all stages.

The host plants will become tattered as the caterpillars eat before the chrysalis stage. However, all of the stages are crucial, so a little munching is worth putting up with to enjoy the beauty of butterflies.

Lastly, it's important to not use any chemicals on the plants, or soil in your new garden. Growing organically is the way to go for the protection of the butterflies and hummingbirds. Providing a water source such as a birdbath is also beneficial.

Start small and spend as little as possible, except a little elbow grease, with your first butterfly and hummingbird garden, then add more plants each year. It’s a wonderful family project to research and develop with the kids and adults.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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