Attracting a steady population of birds, butterflies and other watchable wildlife to your yard is a matter of providing habitat - a combination of food, water and cover. The challenge comes in finding the right plant partners.
Birds are attracted to plants and shrubs that produce seeds, berries and fruit. Butterflies and moths, bees and hummingbirds look for plants that provide pollen and nectar. Insect pollinators favor plants with broad leaves for laying their eggs and then providing forage for their hungry larvae.
Here are some native plants preferred by:
• Adult butterflies: nectar and pollen from common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), wild onions (Allium), purple coneflowers (Echineacea purpurea), wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), prairie clover (Petalostemum candidum), black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta), showy goldenrods (Solidago speciosa), prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata) and sky blue asters (Aster azureus), among a host of others.
• Butterfly and moth larvae: violets, milkweed, butterfly weed, sheep sorrel and grapes, among others. Also consider stocking up on tulip poplar, aspen, oak, maple and willow trees.
• Hummingbirds: columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), larkspurs (Delphiniums), milk vetch (Astragalus canadensis) and harebell (Campanula rotundifolia).
• Bees: Brightly colored blooms - white, yellow and blues ahead of red, which entomologists believe they can't see. Try clover, lupine, sunflowers, yarrow, poppies, purple coneflowers and coreopsis.