Hummingbird Gardens

I was reminded again recently about how many people enjoy having hummingbirds in their garden.

A friend was talking about how she wanted a specific plant to put by the feeder just so that she could attract these beautiful birds and enjoy watching them.  Attracting hummingbirds is relatively easy to do with certain plants and a few garden basics.     

Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly colored blooms and are especially fond of tubular shapes which allow them to stick their beaks inside.  Red is a favorite color but other colors are good too.  What’s most important is to select plants that are nectar rich because hummingbirds need to eat about twice their body weight a day!  Having a variety of plants keeps the supply of nectar available better than just a single type.  Mixing annuals and perennials extends the season significantly and is very beneficial.

Feeders are a good supplement and are good to have in addition to flowers.  Don’t be surprised if the birds eat the nectar from the flowers first but that’s ok.  Maybe it’s similiar to having a home cooked meal compared to fast food sometimes?  A balanced approach will be useful.

The design of the garden will also have an impact.  By planting varieties together in larger blocks, the garden will have more appeal from a distance for both you and the hummingbirds.  They find their food both by the color and the smell so larger blocks make it easier to both see and smell them from a distance.  Planting in “levels” or heights will also help.

Having a water source nearby will be much appreciated by the birds.  They don’t use bird baths – instead they bathe on the “fly”.  If possible, provide a mister or overhead sprinkler for them to fly through.  They can also drink the water from the flowers.

Did you know that hummingbirds are territorial?  Once they get established in an area, they prefer to stay.  So if you invite them and provide them a comfortable home, they’re likely to stay.

Annual favorites:  Cleome, Fuchsia, Lantana, Nicotiana, Petunia and Salvia

Vine favorites:  Honeysuckle (perennial) and Mandevilla (annual)

Perennial favorites:  Aquilegia (Columbine), Monarda, Hosta and Penstemon

Shrub favorites:  Buddleia, Rose of Sharon and Weigela

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