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Flowering plants add color and beauty to our gardens. The hummingbirds and butterflies attracted to our flowers makes being outdoors even more interesting and colorful. Let’s take a look at some of flowering plants most attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Asters are very hardy, native plants that tend to bloom later in the summer months. There is a wide array of Asters ranging from tiny, alpine plants to meadow giants growing 6’ tall. Most popular varieties are ‘Purple Dome’ which grows just 16” tall and ‘Frikarti” which is an early blooming variety with blue flowers. Both prefer full sun and well drained to dry soils.
Liatris (blazing star or gay feather) is another tough prairie native that is loved by hummers and butterflies. Fuzzy flower stalks of purple or white form on plants that grow as short as 12” to 4’giants. Liatris is also a popular and long-lived cut flower loving hot and dry locations in full sun.
Likely the most popular selection to attract out tiny friends are Butterfly Bush and for good reason. Available in a wide array of colors from white to red, blue, purple and yellow these long blooming plants love hot dry garden locations. Butterfly Bush is a woody plant that may need to be cut back to control it’s height and in warmer climates may grow up to 15’ tall. The new dwarf selection ‘Low and Behold’ is a breakthrough plant being only 18” tall blooming non-stop from mid-summer till snowfall. All Butterfly Bush are deer resistant. While it may seem like hummingbirds flock to the blooms for the sweet fragrance, it's actually the plant's nectar that makes it so attractive to the birds.
Butterfly weed is unique in that not only are the flowers attractive but the plant (being a member of the milkweed family) is a food source for the Monarch Butterfly larvae. This is another prairie native meaning drought tolerance (once established) is a much desired trait. Bright orange flowers last all summer long. Some annual Butterfly Weed varieties are also available and are well worth planting when available.
Coreopsis or tickseed is another large family of plants with a wide array of plant types available. Fuzzy leaf, mouse- ear Coreopsis have sunny yellow flowers in abundance all summer long. Many new thread-leaf Coreopsis have recently been introduced with flower colors ranging from yellow to ruby, orange, apricot, maroon, pink and combinations of all above. Tough, long blooming and deer resistance make the Coreopsis family a must have for any perennial garden.
Pentas or Egyptian Star Flower is a little know annual plant that provides an abundance of very small, trumpet shaped flowers sought by hummers and butterflies alike. Flower colors available are white, pink, ruby, red and maroon. This is an excellent choice for those of you who prefer to plant in pots.
Scabiosa or pincushion flower is an exceptionally long blooming perennial growing 12-14” tall with pink or blue, disc shaped flowers. While taller selections are available ‘Butterfly Blue” and ‘Pink Mist’ are by far favorites. These plants just won’t stop blooming until the frost comes in the fall. Plant in full sun or part shade and in well- drained soils.
Everyone loves Echinacea or coneflowers. This easy to grow perennial is newly available in a startling array of colors, sizes and forms. The classic pink cone now has red, orange, purple, white, double, triple, taller, shorter, fragrant… really too many to choose from! Provide good sun and well-drained soil and have fun selecting the coneflower flavor you like most.
Yarrow is an old-fashioned favorite that is as hardy as it is colorful. Flat-topped flowers are available in many colors and plant heights. Yarrow is another drought tolerant plant that loves hot and sunny locations.
If you are a fan of bright and bold color you need to have red Salvia in your garden. The flaming scarlet blooms are a bold as they come and irresistible to our fluttering garden friends. Red not your thing? Salvia is one of the largest families of plants with more selections than you can shake a stick at. Purple, blue, white, pink… most any color you can think of and there is a Salvia you will love.
This is just a small sample of what flowers you can plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Blooms will always be the main attraction but these tiny creatures, dancing from flower to flower, are like the music that nature has added to fully complement the garden scene.
Now go outside and have fun in the dirt.