Top 12 Small Trees & Shrubs to Attract Butterflies & Birds

My Garden Life
September 27, 2019
Table of Contents
One of the joys of growing shrubs and trees, in the landscape or potted in large planters, is observing the beautiful birds and butterflies they attract. Here are recommendations of small shrubs and trees that provide berries, nectar, seeds or perches to entice local birds and butterflies to visit your garden.

1. Serviceberry ‘Regent’

Serviceberry Regent_Amelanchier
This compact selection, 4-6 feet (1.2-2m) tall, provides flowers and fruit for enjoyment. This is an early blooming deciduous shrub that produces deep purple fruit that is extra sweet and juicy. The berries are loved by people and birds alike. Serviceberry ‘Regent’ is hardy in USDA zones 2-7.

2. Winterberry Holly ‘Red Sprite’ aka ‘Compacta’ aka ‘Nana’

Winterberry Holly_Ilex verticillata Red Sprite
This slow growing, suckering, deciduous, 3-5 foot (1-1.5m) tall shrub produces long-lasting, bright red berries that persist in the winter landscape. The berries are eaten by birds, but take note that male and female plants are needed to obtain fruit. ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly is hardy in USDA zones 3-9.

3. Butterfly Bush ‘White Ball’

Butterfly bush_Buddleia davidii
The highly fragrant blossoms attract an assortment of butterflies to the garden. This attractive, dwarf selection, 24-36 inches (60-90cm) tall, displays white flower spikes against silver-blue foliage. Butterfly bush is hardy in USDA zones 6-9.

4. Weigela ‘Pink Poppet’

Weigela_Pink Poppet
This low maintenance, 24 inch (60cm) tall shrub provides a charming display of dainty pink blooms. The flowers are appreciated by hummingbirds. Weigela is hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

5. Blue Mist Spirea Hint of Gold, ‘Lisaura’

Blue Mist Spirea_Caryopteris_Hint of Gold
The rich blue blooms contrast beautifully with the golden green leaves of this 24-30 inch (60-75cm) tall selection. The leaves retain their golden green color, even in the hottest summer weather. This is a terrific plant to include in butterfly gardens. Blue mist spirea is hardy in USDA zones 6-9.

6. Glossy Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’

Glossy Abelia
Expect a colorful combination of leaves and flowers from this lovely 24-36 inch (60-90cm) tall shrub. The leaves transition from yellow to orange and red in autumn. The highly fragrant white flowers attract butterflies. Glossy abelia is hardy in USDA zones 6-9.

7. Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood Viburnum
Growing 6-15 feet (2-4.5m) tall, the berries of this native plant are enjoyed by birds and the white flowers are frequented by butterflies. This is a great choice for hedges or planting along fences and walls. Arrowwood viburnum is hardy in USDA zones 3-8.

8. Lemon Bottlebrush ‘Little John’

Lemon Bottlebrush 'Little John'
This shrub becomes covered by bottle brush-like red flowers and has distinctive lemon-scented leaves. This plant also tolerates heavy pruning. The flowers are loved by hummingbirds. Lemon bottlebrush is hardy in USDA zones 10-12.

9. Spicebush

Spicebush_Lindera benzoin
This aromatic, native shrub produces clusters of yellow flowers before the leaves appear in spring. Bright red berries, which are attractive to birds, develop on female plants. This plant is a valuable food source for spicebush swallowtail caterpillars, rather than being a nectar source. Grows from 6-12 feet (2-4m) tall. Spice bush is hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

10. Firebush

Firebush_Hamelia patens
An extremely hardy, versatile and low maintenance shrub that grows 3-6 feet (1-2m) tall. The clusters of vibrant red-orange, tubular blossoms are loved by hummingbirds and butterflies. An additional attraction is the leaves turn bright red in autumn. Firebush is hardy in USDA zones 8-12.

11. Lavender Aromatico™

Lavender_Lavandula angustifolia Aromatico
This reliable garden favorite displays highly fragrant flowers and leaves, which attract an assortment of butterflies. Plant this outstanding selection near walkways, decks and patios, where the scent can be enjoyed, and the butterfly visitors appreciated up close. English lavender is hardy in USDA zones 5-8.

12. Crabapple DreamWeaver™

Crabapple_Malus Dreamweaver
This selection is a fine choice for the landscape, offering excellent flowers and fruits. DreamWeaver™ forms a lovely narrow, upright 5-10 foot (1.5-3m) tree with purple leaves and pink flowers. Crabapple trees provide nesting sites, cover, and winter-persistent fruits for birds. Crabapples are hardy in USDA zones 5-8.
When you provide winged friends with food, shelter, nectar and nesting places, in return your garden gains color, texture, fragrance and structure. You also get the satisfaction of knowing you are benefiting the environment and the pleasure that comes from bringing the sights, sounds and colors of a wide variety of creatures to your garden.
Thrush with berries

Not sure is a plant will survive in your growing region? Check here to find your USDA plant hardiness zone.

2 Comments

  1. Spencer

    Info re: how wide plant’s mature size is would help.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Thank you for pointing this out, Spencer. We will look at revising the information to include the mature tree width.

      Reply

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