It's that time of year again: the time when we clean out those dusty attics and exercise our green thumbs. Spring is here. With all the hard work and time you put into creating a beautiful spring garden, why not also enjoy the local wildlife that gathers to it, too? You can set up a garden to attract a bevy of wildlife, especially butterflies and birds. You just need to know what plants will work best, and here are some suggestions.
Plants to Attract Birds
Is it any doubt that some of the most coveted avians in a garden are Hummingbirds? Not only do these cute little hummers provide entertainment with their hyper behavior, they inspire awe with their ability to hover with ease. In San Diego, you're more likely to encounter an Allen's (Selasphorus sasin) or Anna's (Calypte anna) Hummingbird, but there are other hummers that frequent Southern California like the Costa's (Calypte costae), Rufous (Selasphorus rufus) and even, on an uncommon occasion, a Xantus' (Hylocharis xantusii) or Broad-billed (Cynanthus latirostris) Hummingbird. If you're looking to attract these cuties, try planting some Fuchsia, Jasmine, Wisteria, Honeysuckle (Lonicera sp.), Red Buds (Cercis canadensis) or Pandorea rosa. Youl'll be happy with how it looks and the hummingbirds will thank you for it.
If you're looking to attract some other birds, you might want to consider planting Sunflowers, Duranta, Pyracantha, and Cotoneaster, which provide seeds that birds love. Don't forget to plant some great nesting areas for the birds, or plants that produce unique nest materials. Orioles (Icterus spp.) love the strings from all kinds of palm trees for their nest building, and a Floss Tree (Chorisia speciosa) produces some great cotton-like nesting material, as well. Although wild roses might produce some California Towhees (Pipilo crissalis) and Thrushes (Catharus spp.), you'll probably have more success in attracting them with some Sumacs.
Plants to Attract Butterflies
Although many wouldn't really consider it a typical insect, the butterfly is definitely on the list of bugs that are desired in a garden. Southern California has quite a few butterflies like the American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis), the famous Monarch (Danaus plexippus), the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) and the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). You might also catch a glimpse of an American Snout (Libytheana carinenta), Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia), Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos), Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) or Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).
Most all of the butterflies listed above will flock to Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), Zinnia and Marigold (Tagetes lucida) flowers. However, you might also find some butterflies attracted to Lantana, Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora), Lavender (Lavandula sp.), Gaillardia, Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Sage. You'll not only enjoy the splash of color between the flowers and wildlife, you'll enjoy the fragrance of the aromatic plants like the marigolds, lavenders and sages.
Make sure to check out your local nusery for great deal on these plants and on trees and palms for sale, too. You'll not only find the plants you're looking to add to your wildlife garden but you'll also find great advice and tips on how to maintain your garden for next spring.