Late summer brings many outdoor pleasures, but two of my favorite things that turn up this time of year are butterflies and hummingbirds. Our annual big butterflies like monarchs and swallowtails typically begin to arrive in July and August. Hummingbirds have been flitting around since April, but some of their favorite flowers are blooming now.
If you have a sunny, protected spot in your yard or on your balcony, consider building your very own butterfly and hummingbird container to attract these colorful creatures. You can do a mix of annuals and perennials for a longer show.
Butterflies favor flowers high in nectar production such as verbena, milkweed and lantana. Hummingbirds are attracted to red and blue tubular blossoms where they can sip nectar with their long tongues. They love salvia, fuchsia and lobelia. You can create a mix of colors and textures to attract both species. Consider annual coleus for its big, bright, colorful leaves, but allow it to flower instead of pinching back. Mix in some perennials such as sunset hyssop, coneflower and black-eyed Susan for added nectar sources.
If you choose annual or perennial milkweed, check your leaves frequently. Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on plants in the milkweed family and you may get a caterpillar or two! Raising caterpillars and watching them transform into chrysalises then butterflies can be a magical experience, especially for your little gardeners.