The ten most wildlife friendly plants for backyards

Guest Blogger FatGardener

Whether you have a country estate; a suburban yard or nothing more than an urban  balcony window box, you can sustain wildlife if you think carefully about your plantings. Obviously, food sources are great but also bear in mind that critters need cover from predators, pets and people. The world needs pollinating insects, and birds and mammals need all sorts of invertebrates to sustain them. There are many plants that can attract and support wildlife in your backyard, but here are my top ten that are especially beneficial:

Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca: This plant is essential for monarch butterflies, which lay their eggs on the leaves and rely on the nectar for food. From Mexico to Canadas wilderness Monarchs breed and migrate, breed and migrate so need food sources to enable this movement.

Sunflowers Helianthus annuus: These bright, cheerful flowers are not only beautiful, but they also attract bees and other insects. If you leave the seed-heads into winter they will sustain goldfinches and other seedeaters.

Coneflowers Echinacea purpurea: These colorful flowers are native to the eastern seaboard and Europe and are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and birds, and provide a good source of nectar.

Black-eyed Susan Thunbergia alata: Another favorite of pollinators, this native flower is easy to grow and adds a splash of color to any garden.

Goldenrod Solidago species: There are many species of golden rod native to north America. They are a great source of nectar for bees and butterflies, and its seeds are a favorite of birds. With a long flowering season this can provide food at times of scarcity.

Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa: This aromatic perennial member of the mint family is also known as bee balm as it is a magnet for bees and butterflies. What’s more, its leaves can be used to make a delicious tea and its blooms can grace any flower bed or herb garden.

Salvia Lamiaceae: This member of the sage family has beautiful, colorful flower spikes that attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees in profusion. There are a wide range of cultivars in a range of sizes and colours suitable for planning almost anywhere.They are drought tolerant too ,so great for those long, dry late summer and early fall months.

Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa: This bright orange flower is a great source of nectar for butterflies and bees as it produces copious amounts. Another milkweed it is an essential food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Blueberries Cyanococcus: These are a widespread and varied group of bushes that not only produce delicious fruit for humans, but they also provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Serviceberry Amelanchier: This small tree is a member of the rose family and has a lot of different names such as Shadbush, sugarplum and chuckley pear covering around 20 different species. They bear a profusion of flowers and then produce edible berries for us, but also provide food for birds and other wildlife.

Remember, planting for wildlife is about providing food and good habitat that encourages wildlife to come in and stay. Flowering plants produce nectar and pollen, berry bushes are important food sources and shrubbery and trees are needed for roost and nest sites for birds and cover for may speces.

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