Backyards and other small areas may have a limited value when managing for larger species like deer, but they are extremely valuable for many other species. With planning and a little work, these areas can easily be managed to benefit nectar-seekers such as hummingbirds and butterflies.
By promoting plant species and habitat components that are beneficial to hummingbirds and butterflies, you can insure their colorful presence. This publication highlights key steps to protect and provide the important habitat areas needed by hummingbirds and butterflies.
It is important to have a soil test done on potential garden sites before beginning to plant. Soil tests are free through the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Soil Testing Lab. Soil test information and interpretive material is available from your Cooperative Extension center. Extension agents can recommend soil amendments and plants adapted to your area.
After a site is chosen, sketch out a garden plan. The plan should show the arrangement of flower groups, the location of water sources, basking areas, and if needed, artificial feeder sites. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to sunny areas. Improve shaded garden sites by opening the canopy.
It is best to begin planting your hummingbird / butterfly garden in early spring. Concentrate on setting out hardy trees, shrubs, and vines that will not have to be replaced each year.
Plant the tallest trees and shrubs at the back borders and then work to the front of the property using sequentially shorter plant layers. For hummingbirds, select perennial plants with mature heights of at least two feet.
Hummingbirds are attracted not only to sunny areas, but to red objects, so select plants with red flowers when possible. Natural plants can "fill the bill" where nectar-seekers are concerned and should be used whenever possible. The plants listed below will successfully attract hummingbirds.
|Butterfly bush||Cardinal shrub|
|Garden phlox||Coral bells|
|Bee balm||Red hot poker|
|Hardy fuchsia||Tiger lily|
|Hardy hibiscus||Cardinal flower|
|Rose mallow||Sweet William|
Provide the habitat components necessary for each of the four stages of the butterfly life-cycle to insure greater use by butterflies and a complete habitat; include host plants on which to lay eggs and chrysalises, caterpillar food resources, and nectar-producing flowers for adults. Successful butterfly plantings use large plantings of flowers and shrubs (butterflies locate and utilize them more efficiently) and favor single flowering plants for easy access and nectar extraction. The following table lists some food plants beneficial to butterfly offspring.
|Purple coneflower||Black-eyed susan|
|Queen Anne's lace||Goldenrod|
|Wild lupine||Black cherry|
Publication date: Jan. 1, 1994
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