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Bird and Butterfly Gardens

Spring is definitely here in San Diego and it has me thinking about birds and butterflies. A lot of my clients want to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to their garden and ask me to put in plants they love. So here are a few good options (starting at the top left): Penstemon parryi, Mimulus aurantiacus, Lantana ‘Irene’, Caesalpinia pulcherimma, Centranthus ruber, Buddleja ‘Royal Red’, and Asclepias carassauica. As a general, easy-to-follow but imperfect rule, flowers that are shaped more like trumpets are adapted to having hummingbirds and butterflies as their pollinators.

A few other things to know before you get started on your own bird and butterfly landscape design: you need to provide year-round options if possible (such as winter berries for the birds like Pyracantha or Heteromeles) and plants that the butterfly larvae can live on. Keep in mind, the larvae typically consume the leaves of the plant when they hatch. So if your Asclepias carassauica (aka butterfly weed) is suddenly looking like it is being eaten by caterpillars- don’t spray it! Those caterpillars aren’t pests, they are your baby butterflies! If you have a maintenance crew, point out the plants the larvae are growing on so they know not to hurt them.

For more information, the Sunset Western Garden Book has a great section on plants for birds and butterflies. Want to know which ones are easy to grow in San Diego? Go to our website and fill out the contact request form and ask!

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at