9 Fastest Growing Shrubs for Birds and Butterflies

Your garden can be a haven for birds and butterflies if you plant the right type of flowering shrubs. They offer nectar for pollinators and berries, foliage and seeds for bird food. It is best to diversify the shrubs in your garden, mixing varieties that mature at different heights and serve different birds and butterfly species.The shrubs might attract caterpillars, so there is a likelihood that some plant leaves will be chewed.

The following fast-growing shrubs are ideal for birds and butterflies on your lawn: 

1. Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera)

The Wax Myrtle is an evergreen shrub with olive green trees with serrated margins and an aromatic odor when crushed. It is fast growing and requires regular pruning to control its spread.

It produces gray berries which are a favorite food source for birds such as yellow-rumpled warblers. Wax Myrtle has yellow or green fragrant flowers which bloom during spring. They are a source of nectar for butterflies and honeybees.

The plant is highly resistant to damage by deer. It is native to North America and has been used for its medicinal purposes by Native Americans for many years. It typically matures at 20-25ft tall. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in well-drained, moist, acidic, sandy soils. Tolerates drought and flooding. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 7-11. 

2. Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens)

Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens)

The Evergreen Sumac is a fast-growing shrub with shiny pink foliage that blooms in early spring. It produces green or white flowers that grow in clusters and mature in mid-September.

Sumac has red fruit which is a favorite food for birds and other small animals. The flowers produce nectar which is loved by bees, birds and butterflies. It tolerates drought and cold climates.

It thrives in dry hillsides and rocky landscapes. It is relatively low maintenance, only needing regular pruning to keep the spreading in check. Sumac propagates through seeds. It is native to Northern America. Grows to around 8-12ft high at full maturity. 

  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in dry, sandy or loamy soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 7-10. 

3. Buddleia/ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Buddleia/ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

This plant native to Eastern Asia produces purple flowers which bloom from June to October. It attracts moths and butterflies seeking nectar. The flowers are densely clustered and have a honey-like fragrance.
They bloom in the summer. Buddleia grows to a height of 3-6ft at full maturity. It is a vigorous grower and also easy to maintain.

The plant is invasive in some areas so it is important to check with the relevant authorities whether it is good to grow in your garden. The dead blooms need to be trimmed regularly to encourage new buds. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Grows well in moist, well-drained soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-9. 

4. Fire bush (Hamelia patens)

Fire bush (Hamelia patens)
Forest and Kim Starr

This flowering shrub is native to Florida and grows very aggressively. It matures at 2-3ft high and 2ft wide. Fire bush produces tubular, orange or red flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

The flowers turn into black berries that are loved by birds. The foliage turns bright red in the autumn and improves the aesthetic of your garden. It is hardy, versatile and low maintenance.

The blooms emerge in late spring or summer. It is a great plant for butterfly or bird gardens, borders and hedges. Propagates through seeds or stem cuttings. Can be affected by aphids or whiteflies. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight.
  • Grows well in fertile, moist, well-drained, sandy soils. Tolerant to drought. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 9-11. 

5. Weigela/ Pink Poppet (Weigela florida)

Weigela/ Pink Poppet (Weigela florida)
Rob Hodgkins/Flickr

This fast-growing flowering shrub produces tubular white or pink flowers in early summer. It is native to Asia. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It is popular in the US because it is low maintenance.

Weigela grows aggressively so you should leave plenty of space for it to spread. Pruning is necessary to encourage new blooms. Propagate by softwood cuttings, ideally planted in early summer. It reaches a height of 4-6ft and spreads to 4ft at full maturity. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in moist, well-drained soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-9. 

6. French Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

French Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

This shrub produces highly fragrant flowers that bloom during the spring. It grows rapidly and tolerates different growing conditions. It propagates through stem cuttings. Lilacs attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

The nectar from this flower is suitable for butterflies and moths. It is also a great food source for butterfly larvae. It grows to 8-16 inches high and spreads 6-12 inches at full maturity.

Pruning should be ideally done after the lilacs complete flowering to encourage new blooms for the next season. Native to the Balkans. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in moist, well-drained, alkaline or neutral soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 3-7. 

7. Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr

A semi-evergreen shrub that produces fragrant white or pink bell-shaped flowers. These flowers bloom from late spring to fall. Its foliage turns purple-bronze during the fall. The plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

It grows to 2-8ft high and spreads 3-6ft at full maturity. It is low maintenance as it needs very light pruning in late winter and early spring. Glossy abelia propagates by wood cuttings. It can be planted along borders and as a specimen plant. 

  • Thrives under full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in medium moisture well-drained soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 6-9. 

8. Lavender Aromatico (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender Aromatico (Lavandula angustifolia)
Peter Taylor/Flickr

A low-growing shrub native to the Mediterranean. It produces fragrant flowers and foliage that bloom from late spring to the end of summer. It attracts butterflies. Plant lavenders along walkways and patios to bring butterfly visitors close to your living space.

It matures at 50cm high and spreads 12 inches. It is deer and rabbit-resistant. It is a great edging plant. Lavenders are relatively low-maintenance plants. Pruning should be done in early spring. 

  • Thrives under full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in dry, neutral or alkaline sandy soils. It should be grown in a raised bed to protect against root rot. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-9. 

9. Hydrangeas (Hydrangeas spp.)

Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp.)
Photo by Manuel M. V.

They are popular ornamental plants for many gardens in America. Hydrangeas are native to Asia and the Americas.  They come in many different species which produce colorful flowers, ranging from white, pink, red, pale-green or blue.

The shape of the foliage depends on the species. Hydrangeas should be planted in the fall or early spring to allow the establishment of a strong root system. They grow very fast in the right conditions.

Pruning is essential to maintain their shapes and allow the sprouting of new buds. Hydrangeas will mature to heights of up to 15ft depending on the variety. 

  • Thrives under full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well under any soil types. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-9. 

Adding the above-mentioned shrubs to your garden is an effective way to make your lawn friendlier to birds and butterflies. Shrubs are best planted between trees and flowerbeds, creating safe havens for birds frequenting your yard. The species are fast-growing, so you will need to prune regularly to keep them within their space.