Birds and Butterflies


Original air date: September 2006

The most important elements that will attract birds and butterflies are the plants you choose for the landscape. These will provide the food sources and shelter for the creatures. You also want to provide a water source for birds to drink and bathe in (butterflies prefer a muddy puddle).

This can be as elaborate as the running stream and pond that we're installing, or as simple as a plug-in fountain, bird bath, or saucer. Just remember to clean out the water at least every other day if it's not circulating.

As we learned in elementary school, all butterflies were once caterpillars. To help increase the amount of the winged beauties floating around your garden, you must give the caterpillar form its due. While nectar plants will attract all butterflies in for a drink, host plants serve a very different purpose.

Butterflies are very specific as to the type of plants they will lay their eggs on. If you provide host plants that are loved by our local species, you have more of a chance of increasing the numbers of your favorites. Just remember that the caterpillars will take quite a bite out of these plants, so don't be alarmed when your passiflora vine is suddenly eaten away to almost nothing. They'll come back.

Oh, and one more thing. Go easy on the pesticides and herbicides. Accept some blemishes, and you won't be poisoning your new visitors.

To see the list of butterfly-attracting plants, click here.
To see a list of the plants Andy suggested for attracting birds, click here.


To find out more about butterflies in San Diego , check out the Monarch Program.

To find out more about the many native plants that will also attract our native butterflies, visit the Native Plant Society.

To find out more about birds in San Diego, check with the local chapter of the Audobon Society and the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Master Gardeners staff the County’s Master Gardener Hotline, and can help with your questions on home horticulture. 


Gardening & Pest Information Hotline

(858) 694-2860
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. -  3 p.m.