Greetings everyone…Spring has finally arrived and I couldn’t be happier. I still have a long wait before I can actually harden off my plants, and I am eagerly awaiting that day!
This year, I will be adding more perennial flowering plants to entice hummingbirds to visit my garden (such as scarlet sage, bee balm, cardinal flower and the obedient plants). I customarily grow vast amounts of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, but I have always yearned to watch hummingbirds feasting happily in my garden.
Here are a few suggestions to help get you started on attracting hummingbirds to your garden:
Hummingbirds get their water from the nectar the plants provide or sugar water from hummingbird feeders, but they do love to bathe frequently to keep their feathers clean and to preen themselves. Misting leaves on nearby branches or a dripping fountain with a small attachment for perching would be advisable.
Hummingbirds love to spend much of their time perching on nearby twigs, leaf ends and branches. They also make their nests near their food sources, so leaving a few branches on shrubs or small deciduous trees will help ensure their safety and survival.
Hummingbirds are quite attracted by red and orange flowering plants that they spot while in flight. They love nectar, rich tubular flowers; large masses of them (they have a high metabolism). Native plants are recommended because they offer more nectar than non-natives and hybrids. Make sure the plants are placed in similar masses and have different blooming periods. Insects such as flies, spiders, ants and aphids help supplement their need for protein. For this reason, make sure pesticides are not used in your garden.
Nectar, rich flowers for hummingbirds:
Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa) Zones 4 – 9 Late spring to summer
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Zones: 4 – 10 Early summer to early fall
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Zones 3 – 9 Mid to late summer
Columbine ((Aquilegia) Zones 3 – 8 Mid spring to early summer
Coralbell (Heuchera) Zones 4 – 9 Late spring
Daylily (Hemorocallis) Zones 3 – 10 Summer
Hibiscus (Hibiscus species) Zones 4 – 10 Early summer to fall
Obiedent Flower (Physostegia virginiana) Zone: 3 – 9 Late summer to fall
Penstemon (Beardtongue) Zones 3 – 8 Late spring to summer
Peony (Paeonia) Zones 3 – 8 Spring to early summer
Phlox (Phlox paniculata) Zones 3 – 8 Spring to early summer
Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) Zones 5 – 9 Early summer
Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) Zones 4 – 10 (annual in cooler climates) Summer to fall
Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) Zones 4 – 9 Summer to early fall
Trumpet Vine (campsis adicans), Zones 4 – 9 Late summer
Hummingbird feeders can also provide a nectar source for hummingbirds during their migration period (fall and spring). Pre-made can be purchased but can easily be made at home with basics such as hot water and granulated sugar (boiled for two minutes at a ratio of 4 to 1). To ensure a stopover to your garden, place several filled feeders throughout the yard in shaded areas (they value privacy from other birds) and change the water often (twice a week during warmer months). I also recommend that you clean feeders with water and vinegar (4 to 1 ratio), being sure to rise several times before adding the sugar-water solution.
Doug Tallamy’s (Bringing Nature Home), http://www.bringingnaturehome.net/