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Flowers That Attract Birds and Butterflies

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Songbirds, hummingbirds, and butterflies are easily attracted to your garden by flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs.

A variety of flowering plants will attract a variety of wildlife.

Easy ways to attract birds and butterflies

Here are simple ways to attract butterflies and birds to your garden:

  • Provide shelter. Trees and shrubs are a natural shelter for songbirds and hummingbirds. The addition of one or two trees and two or three flowering shrubs will attract birds. Trees and large shrubs will attract nesting birds and give them refuge from predators.
  • Provide water. Water will attract birds and other animals to the garden. A birdbath or a low basin or pool with fresh water will attract birds, other animals, and insect pollinators (renew the water every two or three days). A fountain or bubbler that makes a splashing sound will attract birds. Butterflies will drink from water splashed along the edge of a birdbath or fountain.
  • Provide food. Many flowers provide pollen and seeds that attract songbirds and hummingbirds. Flower pollen will attract butterflies, honeybees, and other pollinators. Most flowers set seed in late summer or autumn; this is the natural time seed-eating birds come to the garden. A bird feeder stocked with seed will bring birds to the garden year-round.
  • Add bright colors. Birds and butterflies are attracted to clear reds and brilliant pinks. Hummingbirds are also attracted to pastel pinks and blues. Butterflies are attracted to all colors of blossoms especially white.
  • Avoid spraying with chemicals and insecticides. Bug sprays, even organic sprays, will kill butterflies, honeybees, and other pollinators. Chemicals sprayed on flowers, shrubs, and trees will discourage and even repel many birds.
  • Allow flowers to set seed. If attracting birds to your garden is a priority, let flowers go to seed rather than rushing to deadhead them. You may want to set aside the back of a flower bed or border for tall plants you will let go to seed. That way to can cut flowers for the house from the front and middle of a border but let taller plants to the back of the bed set seed to attract birds.
  • Give birds and butterflies space. Set containers with flowering plants to the edge of the patio or deck; this will allow songbirds and hummingbirds to visit at the same time you and your guests close by. Place a birdbath or water basin just far enough away from your outdoor seating area that birds and butterflies feel no inhibition about vising with you nearby.

Flowering plants that attract butterflies and birds

Here are flowering plants that attract butterflies, songbirds, and hummingbirds to the garden:

Monarch butterfly on a purple-blue butterfly bush
Monarch butterfly on a purple-blue butterfly bush

Flowering plants that attract butterflies

Common NameBotanical NameZones
AgeratumAgeratum houstonianumAnnual
AsterAster spp.4-8
AzaleaRhododendron spp.4-10
Basket-of-goldAurinia saxatilis4-8
Bee balmMonarda didyma4-8
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia spp.3-10
Blanket flowerGallardia spp.2-10
Blazing starLiatris spicata3-9
Blue marguariteFelicia amelloides9-10
Butterfly bushBuddleia spp.5-10
Butterfly weedAsclepias tuberosa4-10
CandytuftIberis spp.4-8
Coneflower, purpleEchinacea purpurea3-9
CoreopsisCoreopsis spp.4-9
Cornflower, annualCentaurea cyanusAnnual
CosmosCosmos spp.Annual
DahliaDahlia spp.8-11
False indigo, blueBabtisia australis3-9
Globe thistleEchinops spp.3-8
GoldenrodSolidago hybrids4-8
HeliotropeHeliotropium arborescensAnnual
HollyhockAlcea rosa3-11
HyssopAgastache spp.5-10
Joe-pye weedEupatorium spp.3-10
LantanaLantana camara8-10
LarkspurConsolida ambiguaAnnual
LilyLilium spp.Varies
MarigoldTagetes spp.Annual
Mexican sunflowerTithonia routundifoliaAnnual
Morning gloryIpomea spp.Annual
Ornamental onion, AlliumAllium spp.4-8
PassionflowerPassiflora spp.Varies
PetuniaPetunia spp.Annual
Phlox, variousPhlox spp.Varies
Scabiosa; pincushion flowerScabiosa caucasica3-7
Pinks, ChinaDianthus chinensis7-10
PrimrosePrimula spp.5-8
RhododendronRhododendron spp.Varies
SedumSedum spp.3-10
SnapdragonAntirrhnum majusAnnual
StrawflowerHelichrysum bracteatumAnnual
Sunflower, perennialHeliantus spp.4-9
Sweet alyssumLobularia maritimaAnnual
Sweet WilliamDianthus barbatus3-8
ThymeThymus spp.5-8
VerbenaVerbena spp.Varies
ViburnumViburnum spp.Varies
VioletViola spp.Varies
WisteriaWisteria spp.5-9
YarrowAchillea spp.3-9
ZinniaZinnia spp.Annual
Goldfinch visits sunflower

Flowering plants that attract songbirds

Common NameBotanical NameZones
AsterAster spp.4-8
Beautyberry, AmericanCallicarpa americana7-10
Bittersweet, AmericanCelastrus scandens3-9
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia spp.3-10
California poppyEschscholzia californicaAnnual
Coneflower, purpleEchinacea purpurea3-9
CoreopsisCoreopsis spp.4-9
CosmosCosmos spp.Annual
GoldenrodSolidago hybrids4-8
HoneysuckleLonicera spp.3-9
MarigoldTagetes spp.Annual
Scabiosa; pincushion flowerScabiosa caucasia3-7
Staghorn sumacRhus typhina3-8
SunflowerHelianthus annus2-11
Trumpet creeperCampsis radicans4-9
ZinniaZinnia spp.Annual
Hummingbird visits Penstemon
Hummingbird visits Penstemon

Flowering plants that attract hummingbirds

Common NameBotanical NameZones
Bee balmMonarda didyma4-8
Butterfly bushBuddleia spp.5-10
CannaCanna hybrids2-11
Cardinal flowerLobelia spp.2-9
Cross-vineBignonia capreolata6-9
FuchsiaFuchsia spp.2-11
GeraniumPelargonium spp.2-11
GladiolusGladiolus hybrids2-11
HollyhockAlcea rosea2-11
Honeysuckle, variousLonicera spp.3-9
LantanaLantana camara2-11
LarkspurConsolida ambigua2-11
Morning gloryIpomea spp.2-11
PenstemonPenstemon spp.3-7
Phlox, annualPhlox drummondii2-11
PetuniaPetunia spp.2-11
Quince, floweringChaenomeles speciosa4-9
Rose of SharonHibiscus syriacus5-9
Salvia, red annualSalvia splendens2-11
SnapdragonAntirrhinum majus2-11
Tobacco, floweringNicotiana spp.2-11
Trumpet creeperCampsis radicans3-11
WeigelaWeigela florida4-9

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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