Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bee, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds - The Pollinators


Horticulture Hotline 04/13/21

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last week was The Masters. Are you inspired by the golf and want to hit some balls? Are you inspired by the beauty of the landscape and want to work in the yard? Or both? It is inspiring!


Attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to a landscape adds a whole different dimension to your landscape, while helping pollinators. The movement and pretty colors add excitement to the landscape. Who can look at a hummingbird that is feeding at a hummingbird feeder and not call others in the house to observe or now days take out their phone and try to video the little rascal?


There are many plants that will attract butterflies.  The ones I’m going to recommend will give you the bonus of attracting hummingbirds and bees as well.  I’ve had all of these plants in my yard and they do very well in the Lowcountry with a minimal amount of care. 


One of the first plants that come to mind is the Butterfly Weed.  The monarch butterfly lays its eggs on this plant and when the caterpillars come out, they will devour the foliage.  Do not spray insecticides!  The foliage will come back quickly and you don’t want to kill the larva of the monarch butterfly.  This plant is not a perennial; however, it reseeds itself.   When it pops up elsewhere in your yard, you can either replant it where you originally had it or leave it where it popped up. You can also collect the seeds and plant them where you originally had them or give them away to friends. Some people think it is neat watching the large caterpillars chow down on the plant and others are afraid of the big caterpillars.  This plant provides an important host plant of the Monarch Butterfly’s life cycle and will guarantee you will get plenty of butterflies and bees as a bonus.


Pentas, Bee Balm, Black Eyed Suzanne, Hibiscus, Plumbago, Lantana, Mexican Sage, Verbena, Vitex, and Glossy Abelia are all good choices for butterfly, bee, and hummingbird gardens.  If you have a railing around a porch or arbor, a Passion Vine does very well.  Of course, every Butterfly Garden must have a Butterfly Bush.  A Bottle Brush should definitely be planted as well (hummingbird favorite).  When at the garden center, choose red varieties, when you have a choice (example - red Hibiscus versus yellow). 


When you buy these plants, they can all go in one little area for a compact “Butterfly/Hummingbird/Bee Garden”.  You may also want to plant several plants in one location, then have others groups throughout the yard for the “Butterfly/Hummingbird/Bee Yard”!  If you have a new landscape, it is very easy to design your yard to attract butterflies. bees and hummingbirds.  Also consider a source of water for the visitors to your yard. A hummingbird feeder or three by windows so you can get a close up look at the feeding hummingbirds is always a plus.  If you have an area to screen, try a few Ligustrum. Bees love a Ligustrum’s spring time flowers.

There are many other plants that will attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds; these are just a few of my favorites that I have had great success with.  Some plants that you would not normally think of attracting butterflies are pine trees, oak trees, birch trees, hack berries, and blueberry bushes.


Measure your yard for accurate applications and read and follow product label!