Celebrating the Seasons

From May 2008 E-newsletter

Hummingbirds love to visit this trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens 'Dropmore Scarlet').

Attracting Winged Beauties Into Your Garden

Part of the beauty of an organic garden is watching birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and bees foraging among the flowers — dipping in for a drink of sweet nectar, loading up with golden pollen, and plucking at tender seeds and berries. But growing organically isn't the only way to ensure visits from these winged beauties. Growing the right plants and flowers helps attract them.

Get "hummers" to hover in your yard. If you want to witness magic, attract hummingbirds. Creating a hummer haven is easy — think red and tubular! Hummers will flock to clematis (Clematis spp.), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), and their favorite plant, trumpet vine (Campsis radicans). Also consider red-flowered lobelia, salvia, fuchsias, morning glories, mallow, penstemons, and bee balm.

Invite them in with sugar water. Make your own sugar water for hummingbird feeders. The ratio is four parts water to one part table sugar. Bring water to a boil, then add sugar and stir until it dissolves completely. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before filling your feeder. Change the nectar once a week when temperatures are below 80 degrees F. On warmer days change it every three days so the nectar doesn't ferment and spoil. Unused nectar will store for two weeks in refrigerator. Clean your feeder monthly with a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water. Soak the feeder for an hour in the bleach solution and scrub with a bottlebrush. Rinse well and refill with nectar.

Butterflies love cosmos.

Grow It and They Will Come!


Attract songbirds with a combination of shrubs, flowers, and trees that will provide seeds and fruits all season.

Trees provide food and cover from predators.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
White cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
American mountain ash (Sorbus americana)
Crabapple (Malus varieties)

Flowers provide fruit and seed.
Bee balm (Monarda spp.)
Penstemon (Penstemon spp.)
Goldenrod (Solidago hybrids)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Cosmos (Cosmos spp.)
Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.)
Aster (Aster spp.)

Shrubs and vines provide food and cover.
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
Japanese yew (Vaccinium spp.)
Cotoneaster (Podocarpus macrophylla)
Common juniper (Juniperus spp.)

Swallowtail butterfly on red-flowered sage.


Bring in butterflies with nectar-rich flowers.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp. Note that these shrubs can be invasive in some parts of the country.)
Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Violets (Viola spp.)
Bee balm (Monarda spp.)
Lilac (Syringa spp.)
English lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Passion flower (Passiflora spp.)
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias spp.)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Lupine (Lupinus spp.)
Aster (Aster spp.)

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