How to Plant Butterfly & Hummingbird Wildflower Gardens


Create a garden paradise for hummingbirds and butterflies by planting copious amounts of red, orange, purple and pink flowers. Many of the same plants and flowers that appeal to hummingbirds, will also appeal to butterflies. Attract hummingbirds with color because they have a limited sense of smell. Provide nectar and water for nourishment and multi-level vines and shrubs for shelter and cover. Choose mass plantings to create a destination that migrating butterflies and hummingbirds will find easily.

Step 1

Select a sunny location and one where you can observe the hummingbirds and butterflies without scaring them away. Create the garden close to an area where you sit outdoors, such as a porch, patio or garden bench. Position the garden where you can see the wildlife from indoors for an ideal setup.

Step 2

Choose plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds according to the vegetation's sun and soil requirements. Position your hummingbird and butterfly plants on a slope, place plants that prefer well-drained soil at or near the top of the slope. Azalea, flame (Rhododendron calendulaceum), Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) perform best in well-drained soil. Canna (Canna generalis), Bee balm (Monarda didyma) and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) grow well in moist soil.

Step 3

Increase the variety of plants in the garden by growing some plants in containers. Mix the containers in among the other plants. Add some containers to a high surface, such as a table or deck railing, to create different levels where butterflies and hummingbirds will visit.

Step 4

Incorporate damp areas into the landscape for butterfly drinking sources. Add water to a shallow pan of sand, earth or mud moist and leave it in a warm spot for butterflies. Provide moving water for hummingbirds; add misters or hose drippers into the garden.

Step 5

Place smooth boulders in sunny locations where butterflies can rest and absorb heat from the sun and the rock.

Step 6

Add plants to assist butterflies at different stages in their development. Provide plants where butterflies can lay their eggs and chrysalises. Identify the types of butterflies that migrate in your area. Some butterflies will use one and only one type of plant to lay eggs, others are not as selective. Plant dill for black swallowtails and milkweed for monarchs, as an example.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use pesticides in or near a hummingbird and butterfly garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Colorful, nectar rich plants
  • Water


  • Virginia Cooperative Extension : The Hummingbird Garden
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service : Working with Wildlife #20 - Hummingbirds and Butterflies
  • Georgia Wildlife Federation : How to Create a Butterfly Garden

Who Can Help

  • University of Maryland Extension : Home and Garden Information Center
Keywords: butterfly garden, hummingbird garden, attract butterflies hummingbirds

About this Author

Lee Roberts has written professionally in different capacities throughout her career. She has written for not-for-profit and commercial entities since she received her B.A in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. She has been published on She is currently writing an extensive work of fiction.