by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
I always enjoy being outdoors and watching butterflies and hummingbirds as we move into late summer and fall.
Fall is the peak season for butterflies in the Florida Panhandle and there are a surprising number of hummingbirds that migrate to our area as they seek out our mild weather during the winter months. In fact, hummingbirds may return to the same yard and same hummingbird feeder each winter if they find plenty of nectar and sugar water nearby.
There are many plants, including many natives, which come into bloom just in time for our migrating birds and butterflies. So it is important to include these nectar sources in our gardens. And, it is possible to observe the fascinating life cycle of butterflies by adding larval host plants, many of which produce beautiful blooms, as well.
With careful planning, we can have gardens with blooms year-round here in Northwest Florida. Not only do these plants provide necessary nectar for our migratory visitors but they add beautiful blooms and color during a time of year when many yards have little or no interest at all.
To learn more about this topic, you may wish to attend an upcoming seminar being offered by the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners titled Fall and Winter Plants for Butterflies and Hummingbirds.
This seminar, taught by Okaloosa County Master Gardener Karen Kirk-Williams, will be held at the Okaloosa County Extension Annex from 10-11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21. The Extension Annex is located at 127 W. Hollywood Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach.
The presentation will include many photographs and handouts will be provided that include lists of Florida-Friendly plants recommended by University of Florida Extension.
There is no cost to attend this seminar but space is limited so registration is required. Please call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at (850) 689-5850 to register.
Additional information on gardening to attract butterflies and hummingbirds in Florida is available online at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu and from the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County.
To find the Extension Office nearest you through the Solutions for Your Life website, click on the “Local Offices” tab found on the homepage.
Other Extension program area topics available on this site or from the Extension Office in your County include agriculture, family and consumer info, sustainable living and 4-H youth.