Plant List for a Bird and Butterfly Garden

Enticing butterflies and birds to your garden can be an enjoyable past time. Gardeners often focus on providing bright, colorful flowers that attract both hummingbirds and butterflies looking for nectar. However, the addition of a full range of plants will attract many different kinds of birds and butterflies. In addition to nectar-producing flowers, it is important to include butterfly host plants, berries and seed plants for birds, and shrubbery and trees for nesting.


Hollyhock (Alcea spp.) features multiple large flowers staggered up stalks that grow up to 6 feet tall. Blooming in the summer, the hollyhock functions as a host plant to the common checkered skipper, painted lady and common streaky skipper butterflies. Hollyhocks prefer well-drained soil supplemented with an aged organic compost.


The pansy garden varieties (Viola x wittrockiana) provide a host environment for the variegated fritillary butterfly. In general, in a butterfly garden, pansy can include the wild varieties of the genus Viola. Thriving in late fall to early winter, and again in the early spring, pansies grow from 6 inches to 1 foot in height, depending on the variety.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) originally displayed its bright yellow color in the prairies of North America. Now found in almost every habitat, the black-eyed susan is a wild perennial that blooms in August. Black-eyed susan grows up to 3 feet tall, attracting the great spangled fritillary, silvery cherckerspot, American snout and other butterflies.


Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) attract both butterflies and birds to the garden. Large and brightly colored, the plants are loved by butterflies due to the large head that allows a landing area for feeding. According to Gardens With Wings, sunflowers attract American lady, silvery checkerspot, sachem, painted lady, bordered patch, wild indigo duskywing and many other butterflies. Once past the bloom stage, sunflowers provide an excellent source of feed for birds. A wide variety of birds enjoy sunflower seeds, as do squirrels and other wildlife.


The sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) grows at an angle. Providing sprays of small white flowers, the sourwood attracts both bees and butterflies during the summer months. Birds feed upon the young leaves and insects attracted by the brilliant fall color. It is available mostly in the Southern states.

Oak and Maple Trees

Oak trees provide shade to a garden, a large canopy for nesting and an ideal source of caterpillars for insectivores, such as warblers. A large variety of species are available in most areas. Maple trees provide a smaller tree for the bird and butterfly garden. The red maple produces red flowers in late winter, attracting winter finches to Southern gardens. Gardeners may choose from a variety of native species to provide a nesting habitat for a range of birds.

Brilliant Red Chokeberry

The brilliant red chokeberry (Aronia abrbutifolia 'Brilliantissa') provides a prolific fragrant white bloom in the spring. Bright red fruits appear on the 6- to 8-foot deciduous shrub during the fall months. This bush attracts up to 12 different types of bird in the Midwest states.

Keywords: gardening for birds, gardens for butterflies, butterfly gardens

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Lillian Teague is a professional writer and editor with more than 10 years' experience in taking hard-to-understand subjects and making them easily understood. She's written thousands of articles for newspaper, periodicals and the Internet. Published work includes VA publications, MMS publications, USAF's The Mobility Forum,,, and many others.