How To Attract Bees, Butterflies and Birds To Your Yard

Find out which flowering plants can bring these creatures to your garden—and beautify your space as well!
Tropical Butterfly On Blue Iris


April showers brought plenty of May flowers, and we’re enjoying all the hostas, hydrangeas and other blooms that are currently brightening our gardens. While the colors bring us joy and excitement, a little wildlife in the yard can do you even better.

No, we’re not talking about the woodland creatures that devour plants—albeit cute, squirrels, groundhogs and deer can wreak havoc on any space. Instead, bees, butterflies and birds can boost the beauty factor in your backyard, and many varieties are known to reduce stress and bring us peace of mind. They’re also some of the best and most efficient pollinators, meaning they’ll help your plants reproduce and keep your garden growing.

So how can you up the presence of these animals in your yard? Below are a few helpful hints that will have your garden buzzing in no time:

A beeline to your yard

To attract bees to your garden, group pollinator-friendly plants in clusters so they’re easier for the insects to locate, says Frank Mortimer, a Ridgewood resident and president of the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association. “Bees love dandelions, clover and milkweed,” he says. “Letting them flower in your yard will attract bees and provide them with a great food source.” And don’t worry about minding-their-own-business honeybees and bumblebees—they’re not aggressive like wasps. “If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you,” says Mortimer. “The only reason they sting is to defend their homes or their lives.”

Butterfly effect

Caterpillars feed on many of the same plants that attract bees, so an abundance of milkweed will keep ’em coming. The trusty Old Farmer’s Almanac also suggests violets, dill and aster to keep caterpillars happy. If you’d rather skip caterpillars and go straight for the butterflies, fill your garden with plants like ironweed, goldenrod, hibiscus, lilac, sage and bright-hued asters. Incorporate a mix of flower structures too—short, long and tubular blooms—to attract a variety of butterflies.

Hum their tune

With their ability to dart quickly back and forth and hover in mid-air, hummingbirds can mesmerize birders and gardeners alike. They spend most of their days searching for nectar to keep their energy levels high, and a single hummingbird can visit as many as 2,000 flowers in a day. Why not make your yard one of its stops? Flowering plants like petunia, salvia and honeysuckle will grace your garden with fragrance and all the colors of the rainbow while attracting several species of hummingbirds.

Water works

In addition to plants, bees, butterflies and birds also need water to thrive. A well-maintained bird bath is perfect for little creatures to bathe and grab a quick drink, just remember to keep it clean to avoid mosquitoes and to help prevent the spread of avian diseases. Feeders specific for butterflies and hummingbirds can be filled with sugar water or nectar (which can be made at home or purchased at stores like Wild Bird Unlimited in Paramus) to provide energy.

How do you attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden? Share your secrets with us on Instagram @bergenmagnj. 

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