Attracting Birds & Butterflies to your garden

I did a talk last night at a garden club about attracting birds and butterflies to the garden and mentioned that I have a summary of the talk. Some people were interested in getting a copy so I figured I’d share it here as well (especially since I haven’t put anything up in a very long time)

BIRD AND BUTTERFLY GARDENING

SONGBIRDS HABITAT

  • Provide birdhouses
  • Provide shelter from wind
  • Layer the garden
  • Evergreens, dense shrubs, and trees (esp River Birch) provide a home for nesters
  • Ornamental grasses give many birds a hiding spot, as well as providing
  • Shallow water features (esp the sound of running water) attract many birds
  • Cedar Waxwings love our native juniper (Juniperus virginiana)

SONGBIRDS FOOD

  • The more different perennials and shrubs in your garden, the more birds will be attracted
  • Augment your natural food with feeders (remember to clean them occasionally with bleach)
  • Resist the urge to rake everything in the fall –this also provides nesting materials next spring
  • Cut back perennials in Spring instead of fall (except self-seeders you want to keep contained)
  • Look for fruits that persist to help feed the birds in the winter
  • Chicadees look for high protein seeds in the winter (like milkweed pods)
  • Avoid pesticides and herbicides – more insects equals more birds
  • If we eat it, so will they

HUMMINGBIRDS

  • Feeders will help attract them to your garden (remember to clean them once a month)
  • Stagger the flowering time so that there is always “food” in bloom
  • Hummingbirds see in the yellow-orange-red spectrum
  • Once they learn that they can rely on food in your garden, they will return every year

CATERPILLARS

  • Absolutely no pesticides
  • Provide food for them – most caterpillars prefer certain plants
  • If possible, leave weeds alone – they also provide food
  • Don’t sweat it when they start to eat your plants

BUTTERFLIES

  • Provide shelter from the wind
  • Stagger the flowering time so that there is always “food” in bloom
  • Butterflies also see in the yellow-orange-red spectrum
  • They prefer tubular flowers that they can get their proboscis inside – this means less competition from other insects
  • Diversity will increase the number and types of butterflies in your garden
  • Butterflies are very attracted to mass planting
  • Puddling stations help keep them in your garden

A couple of great references:

whatsthatbug.com

butterfliesandmoths.org

FOOD SOURCES FOR SONG BIRDS

FRUIT, NUTS & BERRIES SEEDS
Blueberry (favourite among song birds) Sunflowers (annual)
Grapes Millet (annual)
Mulberry
Plums Bottlebrush Grass
Raspberry Big Blue Stem
Strawberry Little Blue Stem
Wild Cherry Wood Millet
Barberry Asters
Bayberry Black Eyed Susans
Bittersweet Vine Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)
Choke Cherry Coreopsis
Cotoneaster Cup Plant
Crab Apples (some persistant) Echinacea
Dogwoods (esp Pagoda, Cornelian Cherry) Evening Primrose
Elderberry False Sunflowers (Heliopsis)
Firethorn Vine (persistant) Goldenrod
Hackberry Helenium
Hawthorn Hibiscus
Honeysuckle Shrub Hyssop
Hop Tree (Ptelea trifoliata) Ironweed
Junipers Joe Pye Weed
Mountain Ash Liatris
Oaks Maples
Pines Sedum
Roses
Russian Olive
Serviceberry
Snowberry (persistant)
Sumac
Viburnums
Winterberry (persistant)
Bearberry
Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Gro-Lo Sumac
Junipers
Wintergreen

FOOD SOURCES FOR HUMMINGBIRDS

Ajuga Beebalm
Cardinal Flower Catmint
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) Coral Bells (esp red flowering forms)
Crocosmia Daylily
Foxglove Hostas
Hyssop Liatris
Lupins Obedient Plant
Penstemon Salvia
Speedwell Virginia Bluebells
Butterfly Bush Honeysuckle Shrub
Honeysuckle Vine Lilacs
Summersweet Trumpet Vine
Weigela
Fuschia (annual) Salvia (annual)
Cigar plant (annual) Lantana (annual)

HOST PLANTS FOR CATERPILLARS

Monarch

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)

Buckeye

Snapdragons, Verbena

Pearl Crescent

Asters

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush (Lindera)

Black Swallowtail

Carrots, Fennel, Parsley, Dill

Anise Swallowtail

Carrots, Fennel, Parsley, Dill

Great Spangled Fritillary

Violas, Passion Flowers

Mourning Cloak

Poplars, Elm, Willows

Old World Swallowtail

Artemisia

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Wild Cherry, Poplars

Cabbage White

Nasturtium, Cabbage

Grey Hairstreak

Peas (most legumes), Mallow (Malva), Clover

Baltimore Checkerspot

Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Harris Checkerspot

Asters

Compton Tortoiseshell

Willows

Red Spotted Purple

Birch, Willow, Poplar

White Admiral

Birch, Hawthorn, Apple, Plum

American Lady

Sunflowers, Pearly Everlasting, Ironweed

Zebra Swallowtail

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Giant Swallowtail

Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata)

FOOD SOURCES FOR BUTTERFLIES

Ajuga Globe Thistle
Asters Globeflower
Astilbe Goldenrod
Bachelor Buttons Helenium
Baptisia Hibiscus
Beebalm Hollyhock
Black Eyed Susan Hyssop
Blanketflower Ironweed
Bugbane Joe Pye Weed
Butterfly Weed (Milkweed) Liatris
Cardinal Flower Lupins
Catmint Meadowsweet
Coral Bells Mint
Coreopsis Mums
Culver’s Root Obedient Plant
Cup Plant Pincushion Flower
Daisies Red Valerian
Daylilies Salvia
Echinacea Sea Holly
Evening Primrose Sedum
False Sunflower (Heliopsis) Soapwort
Fleece Flower (Persicaria) Speedwell
Foxglove Sunflowers
Geraniums Turtlehead
Geum Yarrow
Butterfly Bush Choke Cherry
Dogwood Elderberry
Lilac Mock Orange
Ninebark Potentilla
Roses Summersweet
Cosmos (annual) Heliotrope (annual)
Marigolds (annual) Pentas (annual)
Sunflowers (annual) Verbena (annual)
Vervain (self-seeding annual – moist spot) Zinnias (annual)

table of butterflies & their caterpillars

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About johnsgarden

I have a garden centre which operates out of my home in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada I write columns for a local paper, which I will include here
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