In a follow-up to my post (Favorite Plants for Attracting Birds/Butterflies (Midwest/East) here are some favorites from two of our homes, both landscaped with natives and other wildlife-attracting plants. (See Our Conversion to Low Water Landscaping). I also asked two friends in Arizona, for their favorites:
Our Southern California Favorites (most would work in Western states)
Ceanothus (wild lilac) – Our favorite two are Dark Star Ceanothus and Ray Hartman, but all are great in attracting bees and butterflies. Dark Star – a deep dark green with luscious blue blooms (this year blooming February though April). They don’t need much water, if any, in the summer. Of three we planted three years ago, one is 2 feet high, the others are 4-5 feet high. Ray Hartman’s grow taller – see photo! There are many lower growing ceanothus.
Manzanitas– aside from the dark red bark and bright leaves, birds savor their berries in the fall, and bees love the blooms the last couple months
Toyon– ah, toyon (also called Christmas Holly). The birds prefer these red berries over pyracantha (firethorn)- they look similar but the native toyon has more habitat value. Each year we sit on the bench and witness their steady disappearance in December through January (the robins stripped the pyracantha of its berries last week). The blooms in the spring attract lots of bees.
Pride of Madeira is our favorite non-native (some will cringe because if they’re happy, they procreate and spread rapidly & can be invasive) but we have had so many critters attracted to their blooms. Bees, bumblebees, sphinx moths, all types of butterflies. See photo below.
I want to keep this short but other favorites would be any buckwheat (vital food for butterfly), fremontia (flannel bush) – big bumblebee attractor, and any native sage or hybrid (salvias) – Cleveland, Alpine, white and black sage grow well and rapidly for us and bloom at different times. Plants providing mid-summer color include fuschias, Nevin’s Barberry and other mahonias which provide bright berries of various colors.
Favorites for desert or high desert
Brad and Denise Traver have landscaped several homes in Arizona and New Mexico. Their favorites:
- Penstemons and salvias Says Denise: “They never seem to need water and are tolerant of our horrible soil and attract butterflies, hummers and bees like crazy! And they handle our extreme temperatures, both heat and cold in Rimrock.” Below are some favorites of theirs, with High Country Gardens descriptions (legends show which attract hummers, bees and butterflies).
- Desert willow Denise’s input: “Gorgeous trees that have flowers for many months throughout the year. Don’t need much water but bloom, bloom, bloom! Different varieties have different colors of flowers in lavender, purple, white and pinkish. Can be a large shrub or trimmed to make a lovely tree. Can’t be beat!”
To find ones that do well in your area: