Let's Talk about the Birds and the Bees!

Spring is in the air in the southern hemisphere! For the Afrikaans folk “Dit is heerlike lente, die winter is verby.” That translates to, “It is lovely spring, the winter has passed”.

This is an exciting time in the garden for the birds and the bees and let’s not forget about the butterflies, as they will all be transforming your garden into a hub of activity.  I am sure you will love watching them and feel a little warmth in your heart, that you contributed to the ecosystem by providing them with a safe place to flutter their wings, buzz around and perch, in order to refresh themselves.

Birds, Bees and Butterflies are all needed by your flowers to pollinate them - they are, therefore, essential to the ecosystem!                         

To attract birds to your garden a bird bath would be an ideal gathering spot for your feathery friends – and why not add a branch or other natural perch material to the bath for them to sit on while they are preening their feathers? Putting a stone in the water will provide an extra hopping spot for smaller birds.

Birds are either seed, nectar, fruit or insect feeders or feed from a mixture of these. The Seed Eaters will love a hanging bird feeder full of seed or a seed table where they can eat from.

To attract birds, such as the Sun Bird, that love nectar you can plant plants such as Strelitzia, Aloes, Hibiscus and Proteas. These flowering plants are all rich in nectar! They can all be grown from seed and will give you a great feeling of satisfaction that they were grown by your hand and now provide these creatures with this important food source. You will surely be entertained by a display of beautiful, colourful birds coming to your garden to enjoy what you have provided for them.

Mousebirds will love fruiting shrubs or trees, like the Chinese magnolia vine, that even the owner of the garden can enjoy - but it’s up to who gets there first! In this case, the early bird catches the...berry!

To attract the insect hunting birds, like the Olive Thrush and Shrike, try growing some flowering Marigold, Petunias and Daisies that will draw more insects to your garden and likewise give these birds plenty of incentive to visit and more than their fill of food.

Lastly, consider hanging some nesting material like an old string mop to a corner of your garden where the birds can pluck the material loose. Also, long grasses that they will be able to pluck the foliage for their nests.


If you grow them, they will come...and your field of dreams will come true! Bees are attracted to most flowering plants that are not difficult to grow from seed and some are annual and grow very quickly, which will provide color and joy to both you and the bees! Annuals that are easy to grow are Marigolds, Nasturtium, sunflowers, petunias, calendula, cosmos, and lavender.

Bees are struggling as a species because their natural habitat has been destroyed through urbanization and the use of pesticides, killing off the worker bees, so please consider creating a safe haven and do not use any pesticides! They will deter most of the species that you want to attract and kill the food source for some. Planting indigenous plants in your garden will lessen the need for pesticides and will attract wildlife faster.


Now, if you want to attract butterflies you don’t only need lovely colourful flowers for nectar, but you can also leave slices of orange, banana or apple outside, which the butterflies will enjoy the juice of, just as much as the nectar of flowers.

Remember, if you want butterflies, you will need to endure the caterpillar – the one cannot survive without the other, as is the life cycle of the butterfly.  Caterpillars will only lay their eggs on host plants, which are the only plant they can consume, for example, lemon trees, salvia, gazania, nasturtiums, geraniums and pelargoniums.

Butterflies, however, love verbena, zinnias, Rosemary, impatients, mint plants, alyssum, marigolds, and gazanias.

They will enjoy sunny spots in your garden, so be ready!

I hope you are excited for spring or just to get started with creating this wonderful oasis full of buzzing, fluttering, and flapping!

 About the Author

Adele Siemssen is the Seeds for Africa Operations supervisor.  Adele is a qualified horticulturist with 30 years of hands on experience and loves pets and assisting customers to make their garden dreams come true!