Nothing’s worse than a party without tasty food and good drinks. Birds and insects feel the same way. When they buzz into your garden, treat them well with their favorite treats. Here are a few tips on how to entice and keep them partying until the crops come in!
Hummingbirds and Birds
Here in Arizona, hummingbirds and other birds are the life of the party! They zip in, buzz around, chat, and move out. They tend to make quick and frequent visits, so having a garden that keeps their interest will ensure daily returns for most of the year. They eat half their weight in insects and nectar daily which means they have to find food sources constantly. If you fill your garden right, you may become their one stop shop.
To entice hummingbirds to your garden follow these tips.
• Grow plants with long, tubular shaped flowers in colors ranging from red, pink, orange, yellow, and blue. These provide lots of nectar for hummingbirds.
• Bring in plenty of flowering and seed producing shrubs that attract insects for the birds to feed on. You will find that other birds will enjoy the seed producing plants, and if you are interested in attracting all types of birds then plant a few fruiting shrubs and trees for them to feast on.
• Allow areas of your garden to remain loosely maintained, or better yet WILD! Birds will set up house in areas where they feel protected by heavy brush, or dense tree canopies.
• Hang a couple bird feeders around with the red colored sugar water.
• A birdbath is a decorative yet practical piece when bringing birds to your yard. Remember to change water every day during mosquito season.
• As a final enticement for birds, offer a tasty bird-seed block for an added bonus. You don’t need this if hummingbirds are your only interest. Put it in front of a window for your bird watching enjoyment.
Hummingbirds and other birds will be frequenting your garden with even a few of the above additions. Some might end up nesting and before you know it, new generations could be joining you through the holidays every year. Now let’s take a look at the wonderful treats to offer butterflies.
These delicate creatures inspire peace, and when witnessed resting or sipping nectar from their companion plants allow you to just be with them for a moment. They truly bring a sense of magic to any garden, and anyone knows that butterflies enjoying your garden means there is something good going on there. To keep butterflies around and continually happy try a few of these tips.
• Plant plenty of flat topped flowers that butterflies can land on to drink nectar. Some examples would be verbena, lantana, zinnias, and desert milkweed.
• Butterflies are attracted to bright colors, so entice them with flowers like the yellow or red bird-of-paradise, salvias, bright red fairy dusters, colorful snapdragons, yellow paperflower and desert marigold.
• Set up an area in your birdbath with stones that are raised just above the water for butterflies to land on and sip water.
• Flowering herbs are a favorite of butterflies. Plant dill, lavender, parsley, and coriander especially.
• Plant larval plant food for butterflies to lay their eggs on and caterpillars to feast on when young and voracious. They will eat those plants up so keep them well hidden from plain sight. The plants will grow back after the catepillars have gone through their transformation into beautiful butterflies! Depending on the type of butterfly you are attracting different host plants will be needed. Specifically for Monarchs, some of the best double duty plants are milkweed which both larvae and adult Monarch butterflies can enjoy.
Keep them coming back for more
Remember to keep your garden thriving by using organic and integrated pest management techniques. Birds and insects should not be around chemical pesticides, and really neither should humans. Keep your garden healthy with native plants that grow the best with what your climate offers and they will need minimal fertilizer due to their natural symbiosis with the native soil. Use compost when needed, but sometimes the best compost is allowing your leaf litter to just lie. Finally, let your shrubs grow naturally by pruning minimally or only when needed to produce healthy annual growth. By letting your shrubs take off into their natural form they are healthier and flower often which in turn keeps those winged friends coming back for more.