Many plants can attract butterflies, hummingbirds
RODOLFO ROMANWhen starting a garden in a backyard, a little help from Mother Nature can go a long way.
Published: December 12, 2012
Published: December 12, 2012
Attracting hummingbirds and butterflies can assist in growing squash, cucumbers, watermelon, avocado and more because they pollinate plants.
Horticulturist and owner of the Butterfly Ranch, Cindy David, said attracting hummingbirds and butterflies is a must for a garden to be successful.
"They will pollinate your plants for you," she said in a phone interview. "In the long run it will help your garden."
In January, David will lead a class on butterfly gardening at the Fruit and Spice Park in Miami-Dade County, which costs $15.
Some plants are pollinated by the wind or are self-pollinating, but for the most part, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and bats are most responsible for carrying pollen from plant to plant. In order to reproduce, pollen grains must be transferred from one plant to another plant of the same species. The birds are attracted to nectar, while butterflies love larval plants, where they lay eggs.
Recently, butterfly gardening has become popular. The current economic state can be the reason why it has been in high demand.
"I think people are into their own home gardening because of the economy," David said. "People are trying to get back to nature."
When starting a garden, sunlight is important. David suggested that a 10-foot-by-10-foot area would be suitable.
Around $50 would be enough to spend on a small garden, she added.
Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to different and some similar plant life. For example, both love fire bush, a native plant.
"You can let it grow to 15 feet or five feet," she said. "I put more than one type of the plants. I have the fire bush in my backyard as a tree, so I can see the hummingbirds. In the front yard, I keep it as a bush so I can see it from my front yard window."
She noted that hummingbirds don't like to go any lower than 3 feet to the ground for fear of predators like cats.
"If I was growing a garden for the first time, I would plant one fire bush on each side of the garden," she said.
Hummingbirds are attracted to red star hibiscus, firespike or a cardinal's guard.
One note is important: Hummingbirds are migratory animals. In Florida, the birds are found till around September and until the middle of May. However, butterflies are found year-round. Both can be seen until dusk, but on a cloudy day, don't count on butterflies.
In Florida, three butterfly species are common, including the state butterfly, the zebra. Also, the Gulf fritillary can be seen. All these types are long-wing butterflies.
Sweet birch, river birch, New Jersey teas or kousa dogwood all attract butterflies.
It's fairly easy to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and adding the right plants will easily welcome them to a garden, helping edible crops grow appropriately.