Friday, March 1, 2013

Use Drought Resistant Plants for a Bird and Butterfly Friendly Garden

One of the best ways to attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden is to use native plant species, which provide the natural nectar, berries, and pollen our native wildlife prefers. An added benefit to creating a landscape design that incorporates native plant species is water conservation. Most of the plants native to California are considered drought resistant, which means that in addition to creating a garden that is interesting year round, you will gain significant savings on your monthly water bill.

Native Plant Species for a Drought Resistant Landscape

The key to a well designed landscape is creating visual interest year round. Using native plant species is a wonderful way to do that. With the right combination of plants, you will benefit from a landscape design that is attractive in all seasons. The birds, bees, and butterflies will also thank you as native plants provide the natural nourishment to get them through their seasonal life cycles. Here is a list of plants that do well in our native California. Once they are established, many of them need minimal watering and all of them are attractive to wildlife.

California natives to attract hummingbirds

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
- These bushes form a small thicket, about 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The lush green leaves contrast with the yellow flowers. They bloom from October through March, which makes them a wonderful addition to your landscape through the fall and winter. Their blooms are favorites with hummingbirds and the berries will attract multiple birds to your yard through the winter.

Yellow Bush Snapdragon (Keckiella antirrhinoides)
. Also called Yellow bush Snapdragon, these perennials are not only a favorite for hummers and bees, they're also deer resistant. They bloom from late winter through early spring, which serves as a reminder that spring it on its way. Not only are they cheerful to look at, their blooms add a delicious fragrance to your garden.

California natives to attract butterflies

Desert Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) - While desert indigo isn't as drought resistant as other plants, if you plant it in a mostly shady area with a healthy covering of mulch, you should be able to keep them happy without an abundance of water. In the meantime, you can set up your chair and watch a variety of butterflies do their work.

Sunset Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)
-  This is a colorful sprawling shrub - about 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide, although you can prune it to 2 feet if you like. The bark is red, the leaves green, and the flowers are white with a pink tinge. It is lovely, and at least a dozen species of moths and butterflies can be seen at any one time on an established plant. They grow well against a wall, or fence, in well draining soil.

The list of flowering and fruiting plant that attract birds and butterflies is extensive, so visit your local nursery and strike up a conversation with their staff. They will be pleased to help you plan a native plant garden for all seasons.

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