One good way to enjoy the company of hummingbirds is planting a hummingbird garden. In addition to providing them a natural diet, a hummingbird garden is an excellent way to attract birds to your nearby feeder, since hummingbirds feed by sight on regularly-followed routes - called traplining - their inquisitive nature will quickly lead them to investigate any possible new source of food. A hummer garden is also a great way to capture the birds on film or video, and makes a much nicer backdrop for your photos than the typical plastic feeder. If you plan carefully and select a variety of plants that flower at successively later dates, you will be rewarded with happy hummers throughout the season.
Using pesticides around hummingbird plants is a very bad idea. Killing garden pests will also eliminate the small insects hummingbirds rely upon for protein. In addition, hummers might directly ingest pesticides sprayed onto flowers, which could sicken or kill the birds. Remember: if you wouldn't eat it yourself, don't feed it to a hummingbird! (Well, maybe not the bugs...)
Since hummers, like most birds, have virtually no sense of smell, the flowers that attract them tend to have little or no fragrance, apparently directing their resources instead toward high visibility and nectar production. Note also that cultivated hybrids often make much less nectar than wild strains. While you should visit your local nursery for suggestions specific to your climate and area, here are some of the best plants to consider if you're planning a hummingbird garden:
Hummingbird gardening takes more than just flowers.
In addition to food sources, convenient perching opportunities will make your yard more hospitable to hummingbirds, since they spend around 80% of their time sitting on twigs, leaf stems, clotheslines, etc., between feeding forays and sorties against trespassing rivals.
Another way to get hummingbirds' attention is to festoon (be tasteful, now!) your feeder with red or orange surveyor's tape, available in hardware stores. It is thought that hummers are sensitive to ultraviolet light, which these fluorescent tapes reflect in abundance. Regardless, if you hang a feeder, sooner or later a hummingbird will come to investigate; it has been conjectured that, in a given year, not a square meter of the U.S. or southern Canada goes unchecked by hummers in their relentless quest for food.
Aside from the nectar filled flowers which you will grow, a good hummingbird garden must also consist of an entire habitat for the birds.
· Make certain that there is always fresh water available for drinking as well as for bathing.
· Create both sun and shade areas in your hummingbird garden. Hummingbirds need a place in shade to perch as well as to build their nests.
· Willows and Eucalyptus trees provide nesting materials which your hummingbirds will use, along with bits of leaves, spider webs, moss, and lichens to build their tiny nests.
Hummingbirds must feed 3-5 times per hour and your hummingbirds may become reliant on your garden for it's food, but there may be periods when there are no blossoms from which they can get nectar. It is a good idea to provide hummingbird feeders hung about thirty feet apart throughout your garden for these times. The best color for a feeder is bright red to attract the birds from a distance. Never fill your feeders with anything but sugar-water mix of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Do not use food coloring of any kind, and never, never use honey. (Honey can develop a fungus which can be fatal to hummingbirds)
Keep your feeders clean and filled!
Plants to Attract and Feed Hummingbird's
Keep in mind that hummingbirds are attracted to flower colors and nectar, not fragrance. Some cultivated hybrids produce less nectar than their wild counterparts, but they still make excellent additions to your hummingbird garden.
- Bee balm Monarda didyma
- Butterfly weed Ascelpias tuberosa
- Cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis
Columbine Aquilegia sp.
Coral bells Heuchera sanguinea
Cosmos Cosmos sp.
Dahlia Dahlia sp.
Delphinium Delphinium elatum
Flame acanthus Acanthus mollis
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea (Biennial)
Fuchsia Fuschia hybrida
Geranium Pelargonium species
Hollyhock Althea rosea (biennial)
Lupine Lupinus hybrids
Monkeyflower Mimulus hybridus
Penstemon Penstemon sp.
Red hot poker Kniphofia uvaria
Sage Salvia officinalis
Scarlet sage Salvia splendens
Speedwell Veronica hybrids
Verbena Verbena sp.
- Mountain garland Clarkia elegans
- Four-o'-clock Mirabilis jalapa
- Touch-me-not Impatiens sp.
- Flowering tobacco Nicotiana alata
- Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
- Petunia Petunia hybrida
- Spider flower Cleome hasslerana
- Zinnia Zinnia sp.
Bulbs, Corms and Tubers:
- Tuberous Begonia Begonia sp.
- Canna Canna sp.
- Gladiolus Gladiolus sp.
- Iris Iris sp
- Montbretia Crocosmia sp.
- Bougainvillea Bougainvillea sp.
- Cardinal climber Ipomoea quamoclit
- Flame vine Pyrostegia venusta
- Honeysuckle Lonicera sp.
- Lantana Lantana sp.
- Rosary vine Ceropegia woodii
- Trumpet creeper Campis grandiflora
- Trumpet vines Bignonia tagliabuana
Shrubs and Trees:
- Abelia Abelia grandiflora
- Azalea Rhododendron sp.
- Bottlebrush Callistemon lanceolatus
- Butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
- Catoneaster Catoneaster sp.
- Eucalyptus Eucalyptus sp.
- Flowering currant Ribes odoratum
- Flowering quince Chaenomeles sp.
- Fuschia tree Fuschia arborescens
- Hibiscus Hibiscus sp.
- Lilac Syringa sp.
- Mimosa (silk tree) Albizia julibrissin
- Strawberry tree Arbutus unedo
- Wild lilac Ceanothus griseus
- Weigela Weigela rosea
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