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When planning your garden, consider plants that are attractive and also attract wildlife.

Attract wildlife with garden choices

It’s time to start putting together this year’s “perfect” garden.

While drawing up plans, consider making your garden more wildlife-friendly. There are all kinds of shrubs, flowers and trees that add interesting textures, bright colors and intoxicating fragrances and also entice birds, butterflies and beneficial insects to call your garden home. Here are several plants that can provide for a multitude of creatures across all the seasons.


Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa. Goldfinches and orioles use its down for nests; hummingbirds and butterflies feed on the nectar.

Foxglove (Digitalis). Short-lived perennial or biennial with tubular blooms in apricot, pink, copper, rose and more; hummingbird magnet.

Phlox (Phlox). Among the first blooms for early spring; hummingbirds and butterflies; wonderful aroma; most prefer full sun.

Red-hot poker (Kniphofia). Changes color from yellow base to red at the tip of flower clusters; also called torch lily; blooms late spring through fall; attracts hummingbirds.


Bee balm (Monarda). Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies in midsummer; lots of color varieties.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.). Full sun to part shade; blooms summer through fall; seed heads attract chickadees, goldfinches, house finches.

Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora). Red and yellow blooms with purple centers; blooms all summer; needs full sun.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.). Bees, birds and butterflies love it; cut back in early summer to prolong bloom time.

Sage (Salvia spp.). Red, maroon, and purple flower spikes are a hummingbird magnet.

Yarrow (Achillea spp.). The flattened flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies; songbirds love the seeds.


Asters (Aster spp.). Explosions of color at the end of the season; fall foraging butterflies can’t resist it.

Mahonia (Mahonia repens). Full sun to part shade; evergreen shrub with toothed leaf edges and blue berries in late summer and fall.

Elderberry (Sambucus spp.). Robins, catbirds and bluebirds love the purple berries that form on long, drooping branches.

Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Zones 4-9. A classic seed provider; pinch back early in season to make shorter plants and boost flowering and seed production.

Sedum (Sedum spp.). Takes the starring role when other plants are fading; very cold-hardy; finches, chickadees like the seeds, so don’t cut off seed heads until spring.

Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa). The shrub for rose lovers who hate the hassles; fast-growing, flourishes most anywhere; bright rose hips attract most every kind of bird.


American cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum). Full sun to part shade; moist, well-drained soil. This favorite grows 8-10 feet tall and wide. Its tart red fruit forms in summer and stays all through winter.

Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis). Dense, pyramid shape with clusters of seed-bearing cones; provides great cover; lots of cultivars of different colors and sizes.

Holly (Ilex spp.). A must-have winter classic with nourishing red berries; species’ characteristics range from small bushes to 60-foot-tall trees.

Barberry (Berberis spp.). Tough foliage with dry, brittle thorns makes excellent cover. Considered invasive in some states; check local regulations.

Boxwood (Buxus spp.). Dense evergreen cover; thrives in part shade; great for slow-growing hedges to about 5 feet.

Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea). Glossy green most of the year; pea-sized red berries.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Drops leaves in the fall to show off its brilliant berries; a favorite of blue jays.

Joe Lamp’l, host of “Growing a Greener World” on PBS, is a master gardener and author.