Attracting Wildlife Can Beautify Your Yard
One of the easiest ways to attract wildlife is to plant flowers, shrubs and trees that birds and pollinators need for their species to survive. It’s easy to attract these beneficial guests to your yard or patio by selecting the right plant for the right place. For instance, if you love watching butterflies, plant a butterfly garden or create sections of native ground cover, wildflowers, and other vegetation. One native perennial flower in a planter not only would attract a specific butterfly but it would also provide food for the larva until it transforms into an adult butterfly. Use Florida-Friendly Landscaping and select plants that are appropriate for your area and site. For suggestions on plants to try in your landscape visit http://www.floridayards.org/.
Be Passionate About A Passionflower
The native purple passionflower vine is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. It lays its eggs only on this vine and the larva eat the leaves. You have to be willing to sacrifice a few things to enjoy the beauty and help sustain the species. If they eat it all, don’t worry it will bounce back or new ones will pop up. They have runners underground and shoot up new plants throughout most of the year. The Zebra Longwing butterfly will occasionally also use this vine.
We are also big fans of the shrub Sweet Almond Bush, Aloysia virgata. All the bees and butterflies love this plant and its perfume smells are intoxicating throughout the Spring and Summer months. If you like gardenias and confederate jasmine, you will enjoy this large shrub. Give it lots of space since it can reach 15 feet tall. It is easy to grow and usually has no problems with pests.
My favorite bird has already returned for the summer and is actively building nests and feeding their young. They will return year after year to nest if you make their home a place they can’t resist. Bluebirds like some open spaces and houses facing east or north. For more information visit https://www.audubon.org/native-plants, https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/eastern-bluebird.
One of the bluebird houses this Spring had a nesting pair of tufted titmouses. I watched them for over two weeks, building a nest and feeding their chicks. After they bring in the caterpillars and other bugs, they always clean house disposing a fecal sac.
In order to attract these birds, you not only have to provide them a house but they need cover, food (bird feeders and native plants) and water. A bird bath is always a great idea. Just remember you have to keep it clean and replenish the water every few days. When washing your bird bath, try to keep any water from splashing on plants as it can cause fungus on the leaves.
Landscaping for Wildlife
- Landscaping with native Florida plants gives food and protection for wildlife.
- Determine if there are any invasive exotic plants in your yard and remove them.
- Reducing pesticide use will benefit wildlife, because many pesticides kill other insects that are beneficial to your lawn or garden.
- Incorporate vertical layering to your yard by planting bushes below trees and clumping plants of different heights together. Birds especially need this cover to feel safe.
By creating habitats with food, shelter, water, and space, homeowners can design yards and neighboring areas to attract and benefit wildlife. If you’d like to learn more about establishing a wildlife-friendly yard, then reach out to your local County Extension office, which will be able to provide help and give expert advice.
This article was written by Master Gardener Volunteer, Greg Lussier. Photos bu Greg Lussier, copyright protected, all rights reserved.