In a follow-up to my post (Landscaped Yard Ushers in Butterflies and Birds) about the Damons’ yard in St. Paul MN, I asked Susan for her favorite plants. Most are natives, a couple non-natives. Here is her reply (thanks Susan!) and more photos.
New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
New England Aster is an importantlate-blooming nectar source for bees and butterflies. I cut them back in June, which causes them to bloom a little later than they would otherwise and keeps them from getting so tall that they flop over.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpura) A classic prairie plant, great nectar source for butterflies and seed source for goldfinches and other songbirds.
Cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum) This is probably best overall plant for wildlife in our garden. The Cupplant leaves collect rainwater that birds and insects drink. Birds (particularly goldfinches) and even chipmunks love the seeds. Many insects live on the leaves and stems, and we spot warblers gleaning insects from the plants in the late Summer and early Fall.
Meadow Blazingstar (Liatrus ligulistylis) This is the undisputed Monarch butterfly magnet. See the attached photo!
Royal catchfly (Silene regia) This is a fabulous plant for attracting hummingbirds. As soon as it starts blooming, the hummingbirds appear.
Prairie onion (Allium stellatum) Prairie onion does well in dry conditions and is easy to grow from seed. It is a wonderful nectar source for bees and butterflies, and is attractive throughout the garden season.
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) An extremely attractive, fragrant and long-blooming milkweed species, Swamp milkweed is a wonderful nectar plant in addition to being the host plant for the Monarch butterfly. In our garden, we find more Monarch caterpillars on Swamp milkweed than any of the other milkweed species.
Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha) This is an early flowering grass that thrives in extremely harsh conditions on our boulevard.
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) Switchgrass is an excellent seed source for birds (native sparrows and juncos in particular). It also provides good cover for wildlife and stands up well throughout the winter.
Serviceberries (Amelanchier species, tree and shrub forms) Serviceberry is the first tree to bloom in our garden in the Spring, providing a critical nectar source for pollinators. The berries, which are very tasty, ripen in June and always draw Cedar Waxwings to our garden. I love these gorgeous, fruit-eating birds! One of my hopes in planting natives was to attract them to the garden.
Red-Twigged Dogwood (Cornus sericea) Red-twigged dogwood is usually associated with moist/wet soils. However, it makes an excellent, fast-growing hedge plant, even in relatively dry conditions. (I hiked in the sand dunes in Van Buren State Park in Southwestern Michigan and saw a huge stand of red-twigged dogwood growing on the top of a dune. It was during the Spring bird migration, and the dogwoods were covered with warblers, which were eating insects on the leaves and blossoms.) The red stems are gorgeous in Winter, songbirds love the berries and dogwoods are the host plant for Spring azure butterflies.
Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) This is an incredibly beautiful small tree. Birds love the berries, which ripen in mid-Summer. We regularly see vireos and catbirds eating the berries on our pagoda dogwood trees. I spotted a brown thrasher eating berries on one of the trees in the Summer
We did initially plant some non-natives, but found that most were not very good at attracting wildlife. About the only non-natives left in our garden are Russian sage, which is a great plant for bees, a few bulbs, which provide nectar for bees in the early Spring, and some bee-balm, which has now hybridized with native Monarda (example seen on the Tiger Swallowtail photo attached).