Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard and Garden

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard and Garden

One of the great pleasures of summer is watching hummingbirds zip around the garden. They come and go quickly, but with the right variety of plants you can watch them feed at length. When they pause on the branch of a nearby tree to rest you can see how tiny these creatures are, and occasionally you can see two birds sword fighting over their territories. When the sun shines on a ruby throat, the flash of color is truly gem-like and makes us smile with delight. The good news is, that with the right plants, you can effortlessly attract hummingbirds to your deck, patio or landscape, even if you also have a feeder that’s filled with sugar water.

Begin with some shrubs and perennials that attract these small birds. Shrubs that will draw them in include Rhododendron, Weigela, butterfly bush (Buddleja), summersweet (Clethra), and mock-orange (Philadelphus). If you have a trellis for vines, plant trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), honeysuckle (Lonicera), or the annual cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit).

Hummingbirds also love the following perennials: bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia), bee balm (Monarda), summer phlox (Phlox divaricata), Agastache, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Penstemon (sometimes short-lived on the Cape), Brazilian verbena (Verbena bonariensis), and columbine (Aquilegia).  There are many others, of course, but if you plant the varieties on this list you’ll have hummingbird attracting flowers from early May until hard frost.

Most salvias attract hummingbirds but in my yard it’s the Salvia Black and Blue that they fight over.

The best way to get hummingbirds on a patio or deck is with annuals planted in containers. Any of the Agastache varieties are good, and many Petunias or Calibrachoa pull them in as well. But the two best hummingbird magnets are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ and Vermillionaire Cuphea (aka cigar plant).

To make sugar water for a hummingbird feeder use four parts water to one part white sugar. Do not use honey, maple syrup, or any other type of sugar. And artificial sweeteners are definitely out…these birds are thin enough already!

The shape or style of the feeder isn’t important but the sugar water should be fresh every few days.

The myth is that hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers, but studies have shown that color isn’t important to them…if you supply a source of nectar, they will come!

Red Lobelia is a perennial that attracts hummingbirds. This plant also self-seeds in a nice way around the garden, so once you get it going you may find it popping up in random spots where it will make those hummers happy.

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