The Best Plants For Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden

Creating a wildlife-friendly garden is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also adds a touch of natural beauty to your outdoor space. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a cozy balcony, there are plenty of plants that can attract a variety of fascinating creatures. From butterflies and bees to birds and squirrels, these plants provide a haven for wildlife, allowing you to witness their vibrant presence up close. Discover the best plants to transform your garden into a buzzing sanctuary of life.

The Best Plants For Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden

Flowering Plants

Flowering plants are a delightful addition to any garden, bringing beauty and color to your outdoor space. There are several categories of flowering plants to choose from, each with its own unique set of characteristics.


Annual plants are a popular choice for many gardeners due to their ability to bloom quickly and abundantly. These plants complete their life cycle within one year, making them a great option if you want to change up your garden every season. Some popular annual flowering plants include marigolds, petunias, and zinnias. Their vibrant flowers will surely catch your eye and attract various pollinators to your garden.


If you are looking for flowering plants that will come back year after year, perennials are the way to go. These plants have a longer lifespan and are known for their ability to survive cold winters and bloom again in the spring. Perennials provide a reliable source of nectar and pollen for wildlife, making them an excellent choice for attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Some common perennial flowering plants include daylilies, daisies, and lavender.


Shrubs are woody plants that are a valuable addition to any garden. Not only do they provide visual interest and structure, but they also offer a habitat for birds and insects. Many shrubs produce beautiful flowers, adding a splash of color to your landscape. Examples of flowering shrubs include roses, hydrangeas, and lilacs. These plants can attract a variety of wildlife, including birds, bees, and butterflies, making your garden a haven for nature.

Native Plants

Choosing native plants for your garden can have numerous benefits, especially when it comes to attracting wildlife. Native plants are well-adapted to the local climate and can provide a natural habitat and food source for local wildlife species.


Native grasses provide not only a beautiful and natural backdrop for your garden but also essential habitat and food for many animals. Grasses such as switchgrass, big bluestem, and little bluestem attract a wide range of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and small mammals. These plants provide shelter from predators, nesting materials, and a source of seeds for birds.


Wildflowers are not only stunning in their beauty but also play a vital role in supporting wildlife populations. Native wildflowers, such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and goldenrods, attract a wide variety of butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds with their bright colors and abundant nectar. Additionally, these colorful blooms offer a valuable food source for seed-eating birds and small mammals.


The addition of native trees to your garden can significantly enhance its wildlife appeal. Trees provide shelter for birds, small mammals, and even bats. They also provide a source of food, such as fruits, nuts, and seeds. Native trees like oaks, maples, and dogwoods are particularly beneficial as they support a diverse range of insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds. Adding a variety of native trees to your garden will create a thriving ecosystem that supports a wide array of wildlife species.

Fruit-Bearing Plants

If you are looking to attract not only pollinators but also animals that enjoy feasting on fruits, consider adding fruit-bearing plants to your garden. These plants provide a tasty and nutritious food source for wildlife.

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Berry Bushes

Berry bushes, such as raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes, are a favorite among birds and small mammals. The delicious berries they produce are not only enjoyed by wildlife but can also be harvested for your own culinary delights. By planting berry bushes in your garden, you are sure to invite colorful birds and playful critters to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees not only offer a bountiful harvest but also attract a wealth of wildlife to your garden. Trees like apple, cherry, and pear provide a rich source of food for birds, squirrels, and even deer. The blossoms of fruit trees serve as a pollen source for bees and other pollinators, ensuring their presence in your garden and aiding in the pollination of other flowering plants.

Vine Plants

Vine plants, such as grapevines and kiwi vines, not only add an element of visual interest to your garden but also serve as a fantastic food source for wildlife. The fruits produced by these vines are favored by birds, squirrels, and other small mammals. Vines can be trained to grow along trellises or fences, making them a space-efficient option for attracting wildlife.

Nectar-Rich Plants

Nectar-rich plants are a must-have for any garden aiming to attract beautiful pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. These plants produce sugary nectar, which acts as a fuel source for these fascinating creatures.

Butterfly Bush

The butterfly bush, as the name suggests, is a magnet for butterflies. Its vibrant flowers, ranging in colors such as purple, pink, and white, emit a sweet fragrance that attracts not only butterflies but also bees. Butterflies are highly visual creatures, and the butterfly bush’s colorful blooms make it irresistible to them. By planting butterfly bushes in your garden, you are sure to witness a spectacular display of fluttering wings and delicate beauty.


Salvia, also known as sage, is a popular choice among gardeners looking to attract both hummingbirds and bees. With its vibrant tubular flowers, salvia is tailored to match the feeding habits of hummingbirds, which use their long beaks to extract nectar from the blooms. Bees are also drawn to salvia’s nectar, making this plant a perfect addition for pollinator-friendly gardens.


Lantana is a striking flowering plant that offers an abundant source of nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. Its clusters of small, brightly colored flowers are irresistible to these pollinators. Lantana comes in a variety of colors, including vibrant oranges, pinks, and yellows, making it a visually appealing addition to any garden. By planting lantana, you are sure to attract and enjoy the presence of these mesmerizing creatures.

The Best Plants For Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden

Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous plants refer to non-woody plants that usually die down to the ground at the end of the growing season. These plants are highly beneficial for attracting and supporting a wide range of wildlife in your garden.


Milkweed is a vital plant when it comes to the well-being of monarch butterflies. These beautiful insects rely on milkweed as their sole food source during their caterpillar stage. By planting milkweed in your garden, you provide essential nourishment for monarchs and help support their declining population. Milkweed is also known to attract other pollinators such as bees and butterflies.


Goldenrod is a stunning flowering plant that not only adds beauty to your garden but also attracts a host of beneficial insects. Bees, butterflies, and beetles are particularly fond of goldenrod due to its abundant nectar and pollen. This plant is highly valuable as a late-season food source, supporting pollinators when many other flowering plants have finished blooming.


Asters, with their cheerful blooms, are a fantastic addition to any wildlife garden. These late-season flowering plants provide a valuable source of nectar for butterflies and bees when other flowers are scarce. From white to pink, purple, and blue, asters come in a variety of colors, adding a splash of color to your garden and attracting a wide range of pollinators.

Seed-Producing Plants

Seed-producing plants are not only visually appealing but also serve as an important food source for birds and small mammals. By incorporating these plants into your garden, you can create a sustainable source of food for wildlife throughout the year.

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Sunflowers, with their bright yellow blooms and tall stalks, are a favorite among both gardeners and wildlife. These cheerful flowers provide a bountiful source of seeds loved by a variety of birds. Sunflowers are particularly attractive to finches, who can often be seen perched on the stems, extracting the seeds with their specialized beaks. Planting sunflowers in your garden will guarantee a spectacle of feasting and chirping as birds flock to this delectable treat.


Coneflowers, also known as echinaceas, are not only visually striking but also a valuable resource for wildlife. Their cone-shaped centers are filled with seeds that birds adore. Finches, sparrows, and chickadees are just a few examples of the bird species that seek out coneflowers for their seed supply. These vibrant flowers are a staple in wildlife-friendly gardens, ensuring you have a continuous source of feathered visitors.

Black-eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans are a classic choice when it comes to attracting wildlife to your garden. These daisy-like flowers with their distinctive dark centers and bright yellow petals are immensely popular among birds and butterflies. Goldfinches are particularly fond of these flowers, as they provide a tasty supply of seeds during the fall and winter months. By planting black-eyed Susans, you are sure to create a buffet that will keep your feathered friends coming back for more.

Water Plants

Adding water plants to your garden is a fantastic way to attract a diverse array of wildlife, especially creatures that rely on water for their survival. By incorporating these aquatic beauties, you can transform your garden into a haven for a whole new set of organisms.

Water Lilies

Water lilies are synonymous with beauty and serenity. These floating plants create a stunning display of flowers atop calm ponds or pools of water. Water lilies not only provide shelter and shade for aquatic organisms but also attract frogs, dragonflies, and other water-loving insects. By adding water lilies to your garden’s water features, you can create a harmonious oasis, teeming with life.

Bog Plants

Bogs may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a garden, but including bog plants can elevate the ecological value of your outdoor space. Hardy plants like cranberries, pitcher plants, and sphagnum moss thrive in these wet, acidic environments. Bog plants provide shelter for amphibians, insects, and even small mammals. They also serve as a natural filter, purifying and improving the quality of the surrounding water.

Floating Plants

Floating plants, such as water hyacinths and duckweed, create a whimsical and dynamic element in your garden’s water features. These plants float freely on the water’s surface and play a crucial role in balancing the ecosystem. Floating plants provide shade, shelter, and a breeding ground for tiny organisms and insects, which, in turn, attract fish, frogs, and birds. By introducing floating plants, you will encourage a thriving aquatic community in your garden.

Evergreen Plants

Evergreen plants are an excellent addition to your garden, providing year-round beauty and serving as valuable shelter for wildlife. These plants keep their foliage throughout the year, offering a consistent source of cover and protection.

Pine Trees

Pine trees are a staple in many landscapes, known for their distinctive scent and needle-like leaves. These evergreen trees provide shelter for birds and small mammals throughout the year. Many bird species, such as finches and chickadees, seek refuge in the dense branches of pines, finding protection from predators and harsh weather conditions. Additionally, pinecones produced by these trees serve as a food source for various bird species.

Holly Bushes

Holly bushes, with their glossy green leaves and vibrant red berries, are a festive addition to any garden. These evergreen shrubs provide year-round shelter for birds and small mammals, with their dense foliage offering a secure hiding place. The bright red berries are a valuable food source during the winter months when other food options are scarce. By planting holly bushes, you are sure to create a festive scene in your garden and attract a host of hungry visitors.

Juniper Shrubs

Juniper shrubs are a hardy evergreen option that offers both beauty and functionality in your garden. These shrubs provide ample cover for birds and small mammals, as the dense foliage presents a secure nesting site and protection from predators. Juniper berries, with their blue hue, serve as a food source for birds, including cedar waxwings and robins. Adding juniper shrubs to your garden will not only enhance its visual appeal but also create a haven for wildlife.

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Vine Plants

Vine plants can add a touch of elegance and vertical interest to your garden. These climbing plants can be trained to grow along trellises, fences, or arbors, creating a green tapestry and attracting wildlife.

Morning Glories

Morning glories are renowned for their vibrant blooms, which open in the morning and close in the afternoon or evening. These climbing vines add a splash of color to any garden and are particularly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. By planting morning glories, you can witness a mesmerizing dance of nature as these creatures visit your garden in search of nectar.


Clematis is another popular vine plant that offers a stunning display of flowers. With their diverse range of colors and shapes, clematis flowers are sure to catch your eye. These climbing plants can attract butterflies and bees with their nectar-rich blooms. They also provide shelter and an anchor for birds, as they can nestle within the dense foliage. By incorporating clematis into your garden, you can create a vertical oasis teeming with life.


Honeysuckle is a versatile and fragrant vine that is highly attractive to wildlife. The sweet scent of its flowers lures hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your garden, providing a delightful spectacle of fluttering wings. Honeysuckle berries, which develop after the flowers fade, offer a valuable source of food for birds. The trumpet-shaped flowers and vibrant foliage of honeysuckle make it a visually appealing addition to any garden.

Beneficial Weed Plants

When it comes to attracting wildlife, not all plants considered weeds are unwanted. Some “weeds” can provide critical resources for birds, bees, and other creatures, making them beneficial additions to your garden.


Dandelions, with their bright yellow flowers and puffball seed heads, are a common sight in many gardens. While they may be considered a nuisance by some, dandelions play a crucial role in supporting wildlife. Bees and butterflies rely on their nectar as an essential food source, especially during early spring when other flowers may be scarce. Dandelions are also edible for humans, offering a nutritional boost to your culinary adventures.


Clovers are not only a symbol of luck but also an excellent addition to wildlife gardens. These low-growing plants provide a rich source of nectar that attracts bees and butterflies. Clovers also have the added benefit of fixing nitrogen in the soil, improving its fertility and benefiting surrounding plants. Allowing clovers to flourish in your garden will create a vibrant green carpet while providing a valuable food source for pollinators.


Chicory, with its striking blue flowers, is a plant that receives mixed opinions from gardeners. While it can often be considered an undesirable weed, chicory has its merits in supporting wildlife. Bees and butterflies are highly attracted to its nectar-rich flowers, making it an important food source for these pollinators. Chicory also serves as a host plant for caterpillars of certain butterflies, adding to its ecological significance.

In conclusion, incorporating a variety of flowering plants into your garden will not only create a visually stunning landscape but also attract a diverse range of wildlife. Annuals and perennials offer vibrant colors and provide nectar for pollinators, while shrubs and trees offer shelter and food for birds and small mammals. Native plants, including grasses, wildflowers, and trees, provide a natural habitat and food source for local wildlife. Fruit-bearing plants offer a tasty treat for both animals and humans, and nectar-rich plants entice butterflies and hummingbirds. Herbaceous plants, seed-producing plants, water plants, evergreen plants, vine plants, and even beneficial weeds all have their role in attracting wildlife to your garden. By carefully selecting and combining these plant categories, you can create an ecosystem that supports and sustains a wide array of wildlife, transforming your garden into a haven for nature’s beauty.