Melinda's How-To: Bird & Butterfly Friendly Perennials

Melinda's Garden How-To: Bird & Butterfly Friendly Perennials

Add color and motion to your garden by including perennials that attract birds and butterflies to the garden.

 Selecting the Plants

Always select plants suited to your growing conditions. This includes factors such as sunlight, soil, and moisture. In addition consider these features when designing a new or expanding an existing perennial garden or mixed border.

  • Include spring, summer and fall flowering perennials to provide season-long food for winged visitors.
  • Allow seeds to form and remain on perennials like coneflower, liatris, rudbeckia, and ornamental grasses for added winter beauty and to attract and feed seed eating birds in winter.
  • Provide food for young caterpillars as well as the adult butterflies
  • Mix in some evergreens and deciduous shrubs as an additional food source, shelter and place for these winged visitors to rear their young.


Design Ideas

Create gardens in areas where you can view them when inside looking out your windows or while sitting on your patio, deck or porch.  Then add a few features you and the wildlife will enjoy, such as:

  • Water features like bird baths, fountains, pools and ponds
  • Puddles for butterflies; just bury a bucket or shallow container of damp sand and watch the butterflies gather for a drink                                                                                                                                                   
  • Warming surfaces for butterflies such as a stone or stepper in a sunny location


A Few Plants to Consider

Plants marked H attract hummingbirds, BF brings in the Butterflies & plants with a B produce seeds for the birds


  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia) BF
  • Rockcress (Arabis) BF
  • Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) H,BF
  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) H
  • Primrose (Primula)BF
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) H
  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria) H
  • Peony (Paeonia) BF
  • Sea Pink (Armeria) BF
  • Poppy (Papavera) BF
  • Iris HB



  • Perennial Geranium (Geranium) BF, H
  • Catmint (Nepeta) BF
  • Coral bells (Heuchera) BF, H
  • Bellflower (Campanula) B
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis) BF, H
  • Coreopsis B
  • Astilbe BF
  • Salvia – BF,H
  • Speedwell (Veronica) H, BF
  • Hosta H, B
  • Delphinium BF, H
  • Penstemon H, BF
  • Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) H, BF
  • Bee Balm (Monarda) BF, H
  • Pincushion flower  (Scabiosa)  H, BF
  • Sea Holly (Eryngium) BF
  • Thyme (Thymus) BF
  • Yarrow (Achillea) BF
  • Yucca H


Summer into Fall

  • Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) BF
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias) BF
  • Sunflower (Helianthus) H, BF, B
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) BF, B
  • Rudbeckia BF, B
  • Gayfeather/ Blazing Star (Liatris) BF, H, B
  • Turtlehead (Chelone) BF
  • Sedum BF
  • Mum B
  • Aster B
  • Goldenrod (Solidago) B


Grasses and Sedges

  • Sedges (Carex) BF, B
  • Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus) BF, B
  • Spike Grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus) BF
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) BF, B


Written by, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!