Best plants to attract butterflies and birds in your garden

Whether you have a potted garden on your condo balcony or live in landed property, it is easy to encourage more butterflies and birds into our own private paradise of home. How? By planting the right kind of flowers!

Seeing a butterfly perch on a flower delicately sucking on pollen, then ever so casually flutter off to settle on another flower is a truly simple remarkable thing. Watching the ground antics of a Willie Wagtails bird, twitching their almost vertical tail feathers or hearing their wonderful warbling brings a sense of fun and wonder.

Some flowering plants stand out as butterfly beacons. Let’s have a look!

Plants that attract butterflies

  • Yellow Jacobinia (Justica aurea) – lovely yellow plumes above the plant.
  • Mussaenda – many species with pink, white, salmon, and red flowers. My particular favourite is the Mussaenda Ashanti Blood.
  • Hibiscus, the Malaysian national flower.

  • Blue Butterfly Bush (Rotheca Myricoides)
  • Ixora varieties – big flower colour range and plants from small to large shrubs.
  • Ulam Raja – one of our Malaysian edibles. The leaf has medicinal properties and has a delightful daisy type flower that butterflies love.  
  • Marigolds, Zinnia, Cosmos and Salvia are annual bedding plants grown specifically for their flowers. They are available from nurseries for less than RM10. Buy a batch and plant close together for best results.

Plants that attract birds

Birds need a habitat that provides safety from predators like cats. They need plants that provide a measure of nourishment, either through insects or from flower nectar. Our native birds, especially smaller ones, need reasonably dense plants as part of their habitat security as they are protected by lots of small branches and solid leaf cover. Some useful plants:

  • Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata)
  • Cape Jasmine (Gardenia Jasmenoides)
  • Ixora chinensis

Orange Jessamine. Photo credits: Pixabay

Handy tips

All plants listed will be happy in tubs, pots or open ground, you can find them at local plant nurseries. Have a look here at our article about the Sungai Buloh nurseries.

Plant prices start at RM7-8 up to RM150. It depends mostly on the height of the plant. I am a firm believer of buying the ‘small is beautiful’ size, if one can spare the time to allow the plant to grow.

Great things to do with the kids

Both KL Butterfly and Bird Park are in our Botanical Gardens precinct in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. They are well worth the visit and you can sign up for one of their volunteer and workshop programmes.

LINC Mall (Jalan Tun Razak) has been running the Chrysalis Project’ since 2020. In this project they are breeding and introducing butterflies into the Mall environment. There are many workshops for kids, check them out here!

birds and plants - Happy Go KL
Murai bird. Photo credits: Pixabay


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