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Invited Guests: Welcome Butterflies And Hummingbirds To Your Garden

by Dawn Oldfield, CCMGA Public Relations Chairperson

There is little more glorious than a sunny May day. Warm breezes are heady with the earthy fragrances of flowers and freshly mowed grass. Gardens across Collin County are showing off some of their finest moments. Lawns, trees, and shrubs display new lush, green growth.  Veggies and herbs planted earlier this spring promise a bountiful summer harvest, and colorful annuals and perennials brighten the landscape.

My garden is a source of great joy.  With the hot, triple-digit days of summer just around the corner, my husband and I enjoy spring's warm days and cool nights, spending as much time in our outdoor sanctuary as possible.  Showy flowers brighten beds, pots, and hanging baskets across our property, providing stunning color from spring until fall and offering a welcome haven to butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Butterflies and hummingbirds are wonders of nature. There is a bit of charm and mystery about them. They delight us with their antics, flying from flower to flower in search of nectar, and dazzle us with their beauty. Luring enchanting hummingbirds and butterflies into a Texas garden is easy by growing plants they love and creating an inviting habitat. Hummingbirds are smart and remember good places to visit year after year.

Hummingbirds show up in Collin County between mid-March and mid-May. While hundreds of hummingbird species exist, the Ruby-throated is most commonly seen in our area. The smallest birds in the world, hummingbirds fly over 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico each year from their winter home in Central America to spend the summer with us. So give them a proper Texas welcome! Offer a combination of feeders and flowers to give them a rich nectar supply, and they'll provide hours of entertainment for you.

Hummingbirds lives revolve around food. These tiny birds have big appetites, eating one-half their body weight in sugar daily! Hummingbirds tend to be attracted to brightly colored flowers. Trumpet-shaped flowers in red, orange, or dark pink hues are preferred. Plants hummers seek out include Agastache, Bee balm, Salvias, Honeysuckle, Cigar Plant, Cardinal flower, Butterfly Bush, Morning Glory, Lantana, Petunias, Phlox, and Turk's Cap, to name a few.

Many people supplement the hummingbird's diet by putting out feeders. Many varieties are available at local garden centers, and the hummers will thank you for them. Fix their favorite beverage by mixing one part sugar and four parts water. Use only white sugar. Don't use sugar substitutes or honey. And don't add red food dyes, as they are unnecessary and harmful to the birds. You can also purchase pre-made mixes at garden centers. Clean feeders on a regular basis to discourage bacteria growth. 

Hummingbirds are very territorial and will fight over a favored food source. They dive at and chase each other at amazing speeds. Hummers fly at speeds up to 50 mph. Their slow cruising speed is about 35 mph – faster than the speed limit on most residential streets! Play peacemaker and offer several feeders and plant locations for them to dine. A shady perch or resting place will be appreciated, too. 

The sight of a butterfly fluttering around my garden is mesmerizing. I could watch for hours as this graceful winged wonder sailed effortlessly over the flower beds, searching for the perfect bloom on which to feast. Butterflies are attracted to various colorful, fragrant flowers, especially those with purple, white, pink, or yellow blooms. Ideally, your butterfly garden should receive 6-8 hours of sun daily, so select plants that thrive in full sun. Coreopsis, Salvia, Scabiosa, Butterfly Weed, Penta, Daisies, Coneflower, Impatiens, Lavender, Lantana, Marigolds, Verbena, Vinca, and Zinnias are not only lovely additions to the garden but excellent food sources. Place flat rocks in your garden so butterflies can rest and bask in the sun. Butterflies are cold-blooded and can only fly if they are warm enough.

You need more than nectar-rich plants to attract butterflies. You must provide them with host plants. Host plants provide a place for butterflies to lay their eggs and are a source for caterpillars to munch on. Butterfly favorites include Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Milkweed, Passionflower, Pansy, Snapdragon, Violets, and Willow. Use a variety of plants. This will attract several species of butterflies, and while the caterpillars are eating one plant, you can enjoy the ones growing next to it. Many people treat the caterpillars as pests. Please don't kill them; plant extra parsley instead!

Remember a water source. It's crucial to attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife to your garden. Hummers love water -especially on hot days. Watching them hovering midair to grab droplets of water from a sprinkler or mister is an amazing display of precision and intelligence! Make butterflies happy by putting sand in a shallow dish and adding water to it. They will be drawn to the moisture and get nutrients from the mineral-rich sand.

It takes just a little planning to make your garden a location sought out by butterflies and hummingbirds. Create areas in your garden where they can find food, water, and shelter. As your plants grow and mature, the number of butterflies and hummingbirds calling your garden home will increase, too. Their presence will make your garden a more beautiful and lively place, bringing a smile to your day and great joy to your heart.


To see a stunning display of plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, don't miss A Walk in the Park on June 1, 2024. Presented by The Collin County Master Gardeners Association, this free event will occur at Myers Park & Event Center in McKinney from 9 a.m. to noon. You'll be able to stroll each of the Earth-Kind® Gardens, including the new pollinator garden. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions. For more information about A Walk in the Park or plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your landscape, visit the Collin County Master Gardeners Association website,

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