How to Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Apartment Balcony or Patio

Hummingbirds with pink flowers

Birds chirping, flowers blooming, bees buzzing-- it's a beautiful time to watch wildlife in your garden. Wait -- you think you can't have a garden? Yes, you can! Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean you can't attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your patio or balcony -- or even outside a sunny window! Many of the plants hummingbirds and butterflies love can be grown in containers or hanging baskets. Take this checklist with you to the garden center:

For Hummingbirds:A hummingbird with fuschia

  • Foxglove
  • Lantana
  • Petunia
  • Black Salvia
  • Daylily
  • Beebalm
  • Petunia
  • Summer phlox
  • Purple coneflower
  • Fuchsia

For Butterflies:

  • AsterA butterfly lands on a pink flower
  • Daylily
  • Beebalm
  • Lantana
  • Milkweed
  • Verbena
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragons
  • Hibiscus

If you group several containers together on your balcony or patio, you'll be more likely to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The more color, the better -- hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to a bold display. Try mixing a few different plants in one large container for a bright, colorful arrangement. Think "thriller, spiller, and filler" when arranging your plants -- always put taller plants in the center or back of the container (the thrillers), the spillers around the edge so they hang over, and the shorter "filler" plants in the space between.

Make sure that your spot gets plenty of sun -- at least six hours a day -- in order for these plants to do well. If you know your hardiness zone, you'll be able to determine if your plants will survive the winter on your patio or balcony, or if you will have to bring them inside.

If you want hummingbirds without having to care for plants, consider hanging hummingbird feeders. Make your own hummingbird food by mixing four cups of water and one cup of table sugar.  Bring it to a boil, remove from the heat, and let it cool (don't let it boil too long). 

Wash out a two-liter soda container and fill it with your prepared hummingbird mixture and store it in the refrigerator. Refill your hummingbird feeder as needed. It is recommended that you change the nectar once or twice a week, especially in extreme heat, to prevent the nectar from fermenting, which is harmful to the hummingbirds. Make sure you are using plain table sugar -- not turbinado or beet or anything other than cane sugar.

Finally, add a comfy patio chair, settle in with your morning coffee, and enjoy the springtime show!

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