Mother Earth Living

Garden Space: Grow These Herbs to Attract Birds, Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Add these plants to your garden to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
By Kathleen Halloran
August/September 2007
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This garden is designed to draw visitors of the avian persuasion.
Illustration by Gayle Ford

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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Plant lots of this useful biennial, both the flat-leaved and curly varieties, in full sun to part shade, and let it reseed itself from year to year. It will reach about 18 inches tall. If you’re a patient gardener, you can grow it from seed; others can start with a purchased plant.

Dill (Anethum graveolens). This reseeding annual will grow to about 3 feet. Sow seed in full sun in the spot where it is to grow—it has a taproot and doesn’t transplant well.

Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). This hardy perennial, also called butterfly weed, will reach about 2 feet and show off brilliant orange or red flowers. Grow it in full sun.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). Hardy to Zone 7, this flowering vine can grow in partial afternoon shade and starts easily from cutting or seed. Grow it on a fence or let it scramble across an open area.

Rue (Ruta graveolens). This hardy perennial grows in 3-foot mounds and stays green through the winter. It can be started from seed, cutting or a division from a friend’s garden. Caution: Some people get a rash from handling the leaves.

Artemisia (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ or ‘Valerie Finnis’). This hardy perennial forms a lovely silvery mound in the garden, to about 2 ½ feet. Start it from cuttings or division and avoid the more aggressive artemisias, such as ‘Silver King’.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). A tall shrub with arching branches, butterfly bush comes in a wide variety of flower colors. It is hardy in Zones 5-9 and blooms heavily in a sunny location. Grow it from cuttings.

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.). Garden-worthy varieties of this cheerful yellow native, some of which stay to about 3 feet, are available at nurseries. Grow this hardy perennial in full sun.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus). This fast-growing deciduous tree or shrub with showy purple flowers starts easily from cuttings. Grow it in full sun to light shade.

Salvias (Salvia spp.). Many annuals and perennials in this wide-ranging genus are suitable for the butterfly and hummingbird garden, especially those with red tubular flowers, such as S. coccinea, S. greggii and S. elegans, known as pineapple sage.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). This 3-foot hardy perennial can be started from seed or division. Grow it in full sun, where it can spread by runners but is easily controllable.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). A garden classic, purple coneflower grows about 2 to 3 feet tall in full sun. Start this hardy perennial from seed or try some of the newer flower colors now available at nurseries.

Kathleen Halloran is a contributing editor living and gardening in beautiful Austin, Texas. 

Click here for the original article, Garden Spaces: Attract Birds, Butterflies and Hummingbirds .

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