You can and will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, song birds, hover-flies, other insects and small mammals to your wildlife gardens.
What more could a budding naturalist want?
The beautiful orange colors of Butterfly weed (Below) attracts Monarch butterflies for both nectar and as a needed host plant.
The red colors of sages attract hummingbirds and so on.
For the first few years of having my own yard and gardens, I had the need to get just about anything and everything when it came to perennials and plants that bloomed.
The more color the better (I hadn't discovered the true beauty of just yet).
If it was different, I had to have it.
You've probably been there.
Planting flowers every where.
Throw on some weed killer and plant food and stand back.
Like me, you probably didn't understand why some of your flowers thrived while others struggled and eventually died off.
After all, the plants are zone hardy for your region, right?
Thankfully, this lasted only a few years for me.
As I grew more aware of my passions and habitats, I became more aware of things around me and what I could do to improve my yard.
Through study and research, I learned a lot.
Just because tags say flowers are zone hardy, doesn't mean they will thrive in my region, yet alone my yard.
All plants, from trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses etc. have preferences. Certain conditions they need to thrive in.
Sun, shade, dry conditions, extra water, and wet feet.
What about soil conditions?
Some plants do well in clay while others need a sandy loam.
Some plants require acid soil while others need alkaline soil.
No wonder some of my flowers never made it.
What's going on, I thought.
How am I going to attract the wildlife I want when I can't keep certain plants alive for more than one year.
I studied and I learned.
I took several classes and continue with the research.
As I became more aware of the environment around me, I planned yards and gardens accordingly.
Now, as a "Michigan Certified Nurseryman," "Wildlife Habitat Naturalist" and "Master Naturalist", and more, I now know what is what. I grow and purchase native flowers and plants.
Not just plant of North America, but to my state and if possible, more localized, Kent county, Michigan.
Plants and flowers that are indigenous are more resistant to fluctuations in weather and some thrive on neglect.
They can handle to much rain or not enough rain.
Many can tolerate when it's to hot or to cold.
Indigenous plants also have a tendency to be more disease resistant and can handle different soil conditions.
Native Flowers attract all sorts of wildlife because that is what they are looking for and often require.
I don't have the space to name all the flowers in your region, but I can give you an idea of some attractive natives you can grow in your gardens.
Several perennials can be found through out much of North America. Others span several regions and yet some are localized.
It may be wise to check other growing regions for different native plants that you can plant in your wildlife gardens.
Remember to plant like need plants, with like need plants.
For example: Full sun with full sun, high water needs with high water needs.
Don't plant sun loving plants in the shade or plant something with high water requirements with drought tolerant flowers and shrubs.
For more assistance, check with a county agent or your regional Department of Natural Resources.
Of course you can leave room for some of your old favorites and be sure to put some of your personality into your wildlife gardens.
A Closing Thought:
Research shows, that native insects rarely eat nonnative plants. Thee insects don't have the enzymes required to digest the leaves of exotics. When alien flowers take over our Native Flowers and plants, the insects lose their food sources and their numbers drop.
Since many birds feed on insects and feed insects or insect larvae to their young, .........when insects decline, so do the birds populations.
Native Flowers of the Northeast and Great Lakes
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