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Plants That Attract Birds & Butterflies


Combinations of landscape plants can supply birds with food and shelter throughout the year. Maintaining a bird population during the winter requires an evergreen shelter and continuous dietary supplement of bird seed and water. Otherwise, the shelter birds will simply leave and return in the spring.

Trees for Food

  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Crabapple
  • Dogwood

Trees for Shelter

  • Althea
  • Apple
  • Arborvitae
  • Crabapple
  • Hemlock*
  • Spruce

Shrubs for Food

  • Blueberry
  • Cotoneaster*
  • Holly*
  • Pyracantha*
  • Viburnums

Shrubs for Shelter

  • Boxwood*
  • Pyracantha*
  • Viburnums*

Flowers for Food

  • Perennials
    • Amaranthus
    • Aster
    • Beebalm
    • Poppies
    • Annuals
  • Annuals
    • Forget-me-nots
    • Moss Rose
    • Sunflower

* Particularly outstanding plants for birds


It’s obvious: Butterflies and flowers were made for each other. In attracting butterflies to your garden, it’s important to understand what they want most out of life: nectar. A butterfly’s wish list also includes sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and fresh water. For a nectar-rich flower border designed to satisfy these requirements, consider the plants listed below.

Butterflies love annuals too! Supplementing your garden with annual flowers can provide lots of additional food for your winged friends! Here’s a list of some (native!) perennials to get you started.

Native Perennials that Attract Butterflies

Common Name / Latin Name:

  • Black Cohosh / Actaea racemosa
  • Catnip, Giant Hyssop / Agastache nepetoides
  • Wild Columbine / Aquilegia canadensis
  • Goatsbeard / Aruncus dioicus
  • Swamp Milkweed / Asclepias incarnata
  • Butterfly Weed / Asclepias tuberosa
  • Heart-leaved Aster / Aster cordifolius
  • Smooth Blue Aster / Aster laevis
  • New England Aster / Aster novae-angliae
  • Spring Beauty / Claytonia virginica
  • Purple Coneflower / Echinacea purpurea
  • Joe Pye Weed / Eupatorium fistulosum
  • Boneset / Eupatorium perfoliatum
  • Wild Geranium / Geranium maculatum
  • False Sunflower / Heliopsis helianthoides
  • Blazing Star / Liatris spicata
  • Cardinal Flower / Lobelia cardinalis
  • Bee Balm / Monarda didyma
  • Wild Bergamot / Monarda fistulosa
  • Garden Phlox / Phlox paniculata
  • Creeping Phlox / Phlox subulata
  • False Dragonhead / Physostegia virginiana
  • Cutleaf Coneflower / Rudbeckia laciniata
  • Goldenrod / Solidago sp.
  • Ironweed / Vernonia noveboracensis

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