This garden at Scioto Park was established to draw butterflies and hummingbirds into view for visitors and to educate the public. Watch carefully and you might spot several species of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, or observe the ruby-throated hummingbird aggressively defending its territory.
Both butterflies and hummingbirds feed on nectar, which is found inside flowers. Butterflies are attracted to masses of soft flower color and are also drawn by flower scent and shape. Hummingbirds are lured to food sources by flower color. They prefer red flowering plants, such as coral bells and bee balm.
Nectar is not the only source of nourishment for hummingbirds and butterflies. For example, butterflies will drink tree sap or abstract nutrients from fruit. They can also draw minerals and salts from mud or nutrients from rotting fish. Hummingbirds mostly drink nectar but also supplement their diet with insects and spiders.
The ruby throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird found in Ohio, migrating north to Ohio in the spring and staying through September. Females nest in dense thickets where they can easily hide. Nests are very small – about the size of a silver dollar – and are commonly made from hair, downy seed material, spider webs and lichen. A female normally lays two eggs and cares for the young on her own.
Butterflies have a particularly complex life cycle, with stages of development that differ considerably from one another. Adult butterflies lay eggs on a host plant. Eggs hatch into caterpillars and caterpillars feed on leaves of the host plant to store the needed energy to enter into the next stage, the chrysalis. As a chrysalis, the caterpillar forms a hard outer case and sheds its skin. After a period of time, an adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.
Creating Your Own Garden
Loss of habitat has an adverse effect on butterflies and hummingbirds. The Scioto garden demonstrates how anyone can create a haven for these animals with just a little time and space.
Site your garden in a sunny location. Butterflies are cold blooded animals and require sunlight for temperature regulation and for navigation. Avoid windy sites, as they are not favored by butterflies and hummingbirds.
Choose plants particularly for their value as food sources. Using a variety of plants and extending the bloom period as long as possible will attract the greatest numbers of butterflies and hummingbirds. Many different annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs and trees are available to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Be careful about using pesticides, as they can be harmful to these creatures. Because butterfly caterpillars feed on plant foliage, a certain amount of damage may be present. Generally this damage will not kill the host plant and simply needs to be tolerated by the gardener. Many books and reference sources are available about butterflies and hummingbirds. Your local library can provide a wealth of additional information.
Make your yard a haven for even more wildlife by joining over 200 Dublin homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in turning your yard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
Plants For A Butterfly And Hummingbird Garden
Here are just a few plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds:
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) B, H
- Judd Viburnum (Viburnum x juddii) B
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) H
- Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) B, H
- Wild Sweet William (Phlox maculata) B, H
- Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea) H
- Autumn Joy Sedum (Sedum x ‘
- Autumn Joy’) B
- Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) B
- Gayfeather (Liatris spicata) B
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) B, H
- B = attracts butterflies
- H = attracts hummingbirds
Barbara Ray | Nature Education Coordinator | City of Dublin
614.410.4730 | firstname.lastname@example.org