With just a little bit of planning, you can have beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds flocking to your garden. That's good news for gardeners because not only are these winged creatures fun to watch, they're essential pollinators.
The key is to know what hummingbirds and butterflies look for, which are flowers with nectar. So when you select nectar-rich plants for your garden, look for varieties that are both prolific bloomers and have a long bloom time. Prune your plants to prevent excessive woody growth and encourage the growth of new flowers.
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright orange, red and hot pink blossoms. Their long, narrow beaks can reach the nectar of long, tubular flowers such as the Balboa Sunset Trumpet Vine with its large scarlet blossoms, and the Goldflame Honeysuckle, which has vibrant yellow and red flowers. Other good choices include the Super Red Flowering Maple and the Navajo series of Salvia, available in many colors, including bright red, rose and salmon red. Not all hummingbirds feed at the same height, so plant an array of shrub sizes and climbing vines for food sources.
Butterflies are attracted to yellow, orange and red. They too are seeking nectar, but their mouths, or proboscises, are much smaller, so they prefer flatter flowers they can perch on while they feed. The no-fail plant for butterflies is the Butterfly Bush, or Buddleja. However, since they can get too large for some gardens, consider the Petite series of Dwarf Butterfly Bushes. Petite Indigo has a profusion of lilac-blue flowers; Petite Plum sports reddish-purple blooms and Petite Snow has pure white blossoms.
Lilacs are favorites of butterflies, but don't typically flower well in climates with warmer winters. Blue Skies Lilac produces huge clusters of light lavender-blue flowers that don't require winter chilling. Butterflies love coneflowers, such as the bright pink Pixie Meadowbrite. Asters are great because they bloom well into fall. The new Farmington Aster has a profusion of lilac bloom clusters that butterflies flock to.
Supply a source of water. Hummingbirds enjoy flying through a fine mist, which cools them off. Butterflies like drinking from shallow puddles. Position some large flat rocks in a sunny spot, on which butterflies can sun themselves to warm their wings.