Every summer, hummingbirds and butterflies are whimsical visitors to Northern Michigan’s outdoors. It’s common to see hummingbird and butterfly feeders in the neighbor’s yard, but did you know that it’s easy and simple to design a garden for your Northern Michigan home or cottage to host these lovely little fliers throughout the season?
Pine Hill Nursery, located 10 miles north of Elk Rapids and 20 miles south of Charlevoix, shared ideas with Traverse Magazine & MyNorth Staffer, Dani Davis, on what to plant to encourage hummingbirds and butterflies to make regular visits to your yard.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a hummingbird, bee or butterfly, walk into Pine Hill Nursery where you’ll discover a treasure-trove of earthly delights. Owners Sandy and Ralph Naples offer a stunning selection of plants in a rejuvenating atmosphere complete with a café and stylish boutique. Pine Hill staff member and North Central Michigan College’s Dr. Sarah Thayer shared, “If you want to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard, start thinking like one.“ She pointed first to a hanging basket of brilliant purple and pink ornamental flowers cascading down overhead. “Fuchsia, is a hummer favorite,” Thayer noted. Hanging high with a crown of billowing flowers, a fuchsia basket is a readily accessible oasis for any nectar-seeking passerby.
Hummingbirds and butterflies also indulge in blossoms that mimic the shape of their feeders. These tiny fliers are attracted to tube-like or bell-shaped flowers like Fox Glove, Verbena, Painted Tongue and Penstemon. Thayer noted, “Hummingbirds are most attracted to long thin flowers, whereas butterflies like to stand on top of flowers that they feed on such as Yarrow and Verbena.”
Another trait that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies…color, and who doesn’t love a floral feast for the eyes? Thayer recommended Sweet William, a perennial that thrives in Michigan. Sweetly striped with pink and crimson, Sweet William blossoms in a bouquet of tiny targets… targets that are easy for hummers and butterflies to spot a bit of sweetness. When it comes to attracting the little fliers, Thayer said, “The more flowers and different types that you have, the more you will generally see.”
Hummingbirds and butterflies start showing up in Northern Michigan in late April and early May, but even well into summer, it’s not a bad idea to plan ahead. If you want your hard yard work to return year after year, plant perennials. The other sure-fire way to keep them coming back for more nectar is to keep a feeder stocked. “Pine Hill sells a variety of feeders year to year. Brightly colored feeders work best,” noted Thayer.
The next time you see a Ruby-throated hummingbird whiz on by or a Monarch perched atop a leaf, you’ll have a notion for what they’re seeking. If it happens you’re after the nectar, too, visit a nearby nursery to start mapping out your colorfully curated garden. If you decide to pay Pine Hill a visit, there’s a great chance you’ll see a mercurial hummer zooming blossom to blossom.