10 Plants That Will Turn Your Back Yard Into a Wildlife Sanctuary – Lifehacker


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Photo: By Giedriius (Shutterstock)You spend countless hours weeding, watering, pruning, and nurturing your garden into a space you enjoy; so it’s easy to forget that the rich vegetation we take so much joy and pride in is also meant for the local wildlife. Wildlife gardens can attract butterflies, birds, and small animals to your backyard oasis. And growing specific local plants that attract these creatures is a great way to interact with nature, provide them with a lush natural habitat, and support the natural ecosystem. Here are ten plants you can grow to attract wildlife to your garden.GoldenrodPhoto: By LutsenkoLarissa (Shutterstock)The goldenrod attracts more than 100 species of insects and birds, and they are native to North America, with over 100 different species to choose from. Because they have so many species, they can grow in all kinds of soils, from bogs to ocean coasts. Most goldenrods thrive in full sun, but the woodland versions do well with a bit of shade. They bloom in late summer and early fall and don’t need much fertilizer to grow. Once you find the goldenrod species native to your area, they don’t need much attention, and you’ll have beautiful bumblebees and butterflies in your yard in no time. MilkweedPhoto: By smilesbevie (Shutterstock)Milkweed is a powerful provider for pollinating insects, and it is a plant native to North America with four common species. Nature site American Meadows listed the common species as whorled milkweed, common milkweed, swamp milkweeds, and butterfly weed. They thrive in meadow-like habitats and provide food for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars. You can plant milkweed in the spring or fall, but they will remain dormant if you plant in the early spring until the weather warms up. Their dormant phase allows them to grow strong roots so they can keep coming back every year. Trumpet honeysucklePhoto: By K Quinn Ferris (Shutterstock)One of the most fascinating birds to attract to your backyard is the hummingbird. These small creatures can be tough to spot because they fly so fast, but if you plant the right flowers, you increase your chances. Flowers like the trumpet honeysuckle are easy to grow and provide nectar to the little birds. Trumpet honeysuckles grow tube-shaped flowers in reds, yellows, and oranges. They bloom all through the summer and fall, giving you plenty of chances to see hummingbird visitors. Plant with caution, though; the trumpet honeysuckle is a vine that has invasive tendencies and can grow rather quickly. Make sure you practice regular pruning to keep it under control. AsterPhoto: By Michael G McKinne (Shutterstock)Asters are wildflowers that bloom in the late summer through the fall with daisy-like flowers in a bright purple hue. The purple perennials support about 112 wildlife species, including crucial pollinators like bees, moths and butterflies. Before planting your aster flowers, make sure to treat the soil by mixing in compost to make it more nutrient-rich. These plants love cool, moist weather, which is why they thrive in the fall. If you live in a hot and sunny location, try to plant asters away from areas that get direct sunlight during midday. They prefer full to partial sun to grow. ButtonbushPhoto: By Kristine Rad (Shutterstock)If you live near water or places where ducks like to congregate, the buttonbush is the perfect native plant for your area. These shrubs produce small round spikey-looking flowers with enticing nectar for butterflies and insects. The hardy shrub can live in a variety of soil conditions, and it thrives in a very wet environment. Native Plant Database Grow Native explains their “nutlike seeds are eaten by many waterfowl, and many types of birds use it as a nesting site.” These plants can grow from late July through to the first frost. So, you don’t need to feed the ducks processed foods—just plant a buttonbush and sit back and enjoy watching the ducks in their natural habitat. ChicoryPhoto: By ermess (Shutterstock)If you want to attract slightly bigger wildlife, consider planting chicory. These plants grow virtually everywhere. They require little maintenance, and deer love grazing and eating chicory. They thrive in acidic soil and grow long, thick roots to grab moisture in the ground and live through dry periods of the year.DogwoodPhoto: By Noel V. Baebler (Shutterstock)This wonderful tree is not the easiest to grow, but if you give it the attention it deserves, you can enjoy a visit from a cotton-tailed creature even in the winter. The dogwood tree enjoys damp, well-drained soil, and prefers filtered light rather than direct sun rays. If the soil in your area is dense or has clay or sand, you’ll want to do a soil treatment so the tree can get enough drainage. Rabbits love these woody plants, feeding on the tree buds, twigs, and bark of young dogwoods. The young plant nard is soft, thin, and easily accessible during the winter.SunflowersPhoto: By Mitch Hutchinson (Shutterstock)Over 70 species are supported by the abundance of seeds sunflowers bring. Sunflowers are easy to grow, and you can enjoy the seeds as much as the wildlife. They love the sun, so planting in late May to early June ensures these sunny flowers have enough warm weather to survive. Sunflowers attract butterflies, ladybugs, and beetles, and animals like squirrels, deer, and even hedgehogs.Black-eyed susanPhoto: By Julianne Caust (Shutterstock)Like the sunflower, black-eyed susans attract all sorts of beetles, bugs, and animals. If you love watching chipmunks scurry around your yard, this is the plant for your garden. The black-eyed susan is a wildflower native to the U.S, and its ability to self-seed makes it an extremely fast-growing plant. These plants love full sun and do well with well-drained and moist-to-dry soil. They bloom in the summer and take their time growing—it will take two to three years before they reach full height. Chipmunks love them for their seed production and will live off of the seed heads throughout the winter. You’ll get to see wildlife all year round with black eyed susans in your garden.American beautyberryPhoto: By ifoodijourney (Shutterstock)If you want to attract all kinds of animals and birds to your yard, plant the American beautyberry bush in your garden. The luscious green shrub grows clusters of bright purple berries along its stem, edible for humans and wildlife. According to the plant site Gardener’s Path, the beautyberry attracts over 40 different species of songbirds, including mockingbirds, finches, and woodpeckers. You might even see a fox or armadillo in your backyard feeding on these purple berries. American beautyberries like rich organic soil but can do well with any soil, as long as it drains well. They can tolerate full sun as long as they are watered often, but they prefer dappled shade. The berries can even last throughout the cold season, making them a lifesaver for some animals during the winter.
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