Every summer, hummingbirds and butterflies are whimsical visitors in Northern Michigan. It’s common to see feeders in yards, but did you know it’s easy to design an entire garden 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, shares a few ideas with us about what to plant to encourage hummingbirds and butterflies to make regular visits to your yard.
Owners Sandy and Ralph Naples offer a stunning selection of plants in a fun atmosphere complete with a cafe and stylish boutique. Pine Hill staff member and North Central Michigan College’s Dr. Sarah Thayer shares, “If you want to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard, start thinking like one.” She points first to a hanging basket of brilliant purple and pink ornamental flowers cascading down overhead. “Fuchsia is a hummer favorite.” Hanging high with a crown of billowing flowers, a fuchsia basket is an easily 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 such as Fox Glove, Verbena, Painted Tongue, and Penstemon. Thayer notes, “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. Thayer recommends Sweet William, a perennial that thrives in Michigan. Sweetly striped with pink and crimson, Sweet William blossoms in a bouquet of tiny targets that are easy for hummers and butterflies to spot. When it comes to attracting the little fliers, Thayer says, “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.