Here is my list of the three plants that should give you the best chance of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard this summer.
LANTANA – The variety I prefer is Miss Huff. This cultivar will produce flowers from late spring into fall. Additionally, it will survive winter when the thermometer plummets into the single digits.
Miss Huff will reach a height of four to five feet and will spread outward as far as you will allow it.
Throughout most summers, Miss Huff does not require any water. In fact, if you give it too much water, it will produce an abundance of foliage and fewer flowers.
The plant is carefree during the growing season. However, the tall canes should be removed over the winter.
BUTTERFLY BUSH – This shrub is a great addition to practically any yard. Although most butterfly bushes bear flowers ranging in color from purple, white, orange, yellow, to almost black.
In addition, miniature varieties can be grown in planters. This offers those of you that do not have very large yards or live in condominiums the opportunity to attract hummers and butterflies to your patios or other small spaces.
Deadheading spent blooms encourages the shrubs to continue producing crops of flowers all summer long.
In winter, it is a good idea to cut the shrubs back within a foot to a foot and a half of the ground.
Butterflies will nectar on butterfly bushes more often than will hummingbirds.
ZINNIAS – Zinnias are an old time garden favorites that are still extremely popular among gardeners. Butterflies seem to prefer flat-topped varieties as opposed to those with rounded flowers.
Plant this annual in bunches, as butterflies seem to be attracted more to mass plantings over single flowers planted here and there.
Deadhead the flowers and the plants will produce a new crop.
After flowering season has passed, do not cut down the spent plants. American goldfinches and other birds will eat the dry zinnia seeds.