Lantana plants, sometimes called "verbena bushes", are perennials in zones 8-10. But in colder climates, lantana plants are more often used as annuals for hanging baskets. The "Spreading Sunset" cultivar (Lantana camara 'Spreading Sunset') has a flower head with gold centers surrounded by an orange that later fades to pink. Like most of the entries listed so far, lantana plants are sun-lovers. For landscapers who are looking for a shade-loving substitute, fuchsia hangers are the answer. The latter attract hummingbirds, whereas lantana plants are especially loved by butterflies.
As I promised on Page 2, I'll also mention a tree that attracts hummingbirds. Silk tree, or mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), is a member of the Pea family. At the southern end of its range, this vigorous exotic plant (China) quickly naturalizes in areas disturbed by humans. It is thus often viewed as an invasive pest in the southeastern U.S., for example; exercise caution. But its puffy pink blooms are aromatic, and its nectar attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Zones 6-9.
Landscape Plan for a Butterfly and Hummingbird Landscape
When drawing a landscape plan to determine what goes where in a new landscape layout, landscape designers divide the property into "activity zones." For hummingbird and butterfly watchers, these activity zones need to be focused on viewing hummingbirds and butterflies as they feed on your plants' nectar. It is with this consideration in mind that I have injected so much diversity into this Top 10 list. Different plant types will serve different functions on our butterfly and hummingbird landscape:
- The vine plants selected should be allowed to grow on arbors for maximum impact. Position the arbor in your landscape plan so that you'll be able to watch the hummingbirds and butterflies from a window inside your home.
- The shrub plants selected can be massed in a border to form sheltered areas for your winged creatures. Breaking up a large flat expanse is an important consideration -- not only for landscape design in general, but particularly when trying to attract wildlife.
- Sketch a patio into your plan to house the hanging plants selected. Imagine sipping a coffee out on the patio and having a beautiful butterfly or hummingbird alight on the hanging plant right across from you or above you! If your patio will be shaded, use fuchsia hangers, not lantana. It is often convenient to combine patios and arbors, since an arbor will give you a place from which to hang your patio's hanging plants.
- The plants referred to on Page 1 are intended for perennial flower beds. This would be the finishing touch on your landscape, to be implemented at the very end. You would want to work on hardscape elements first, such as the arbor and patio mentioned above. Next would come the planting of the larger plants, such as the silk tree and the shrubs. It is only after all this heavy work is done that you would want to plant your perennials in beds, or hang up your lantana plants -- otherwise, you unnecessarily expose fragile plants to the risk of damage.