Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures of the bird world. It is not hard to attract them if you know what to plant. A large portion of their diet consists of tiny spiders and aphids, but they have a sweet tooth and are attracted to the sweet nectar of flowers, especially those that are tubular or trumpet shaped. It is a perfect example of a relationship between plant and animal; many trumpet-shaped flowers are designed to be pollinated by critters with long, sucking mouthparts, like those of a butterfly or hummingbird. There are even a few flowers, like the trumpet vine, whose flower tubes are so deep that only the hummingbirds’ long bill can penetrate and pollinate them. Nature has made the flowers irresistible to hummingbirds, to ensure that pollination takes place.Hummingbirds prefer flowers in shades of bright red and orange. Trumpet vine is a prime choice, and so are bee balm and native columbine.
A garden that is all red and orange will attract hummingbirds but it may not be pleasing to your eye. Some cooler shades of flowers hummingbirds favor will tone things down a bit. Include annuals, perennials, shrubs and vines, ensuring a long season of continuous bloom. Annuals can balance out a color scheme to suit your preferences.
In selecting a site for the garden, choose a sunny open location, preferably facing south. A trellis will be needed for clematis and other twining vines. The trellis is also good to give support to tie up delphiniums and rose mallows. Prepare soil sparing the use of manure and fertilizers high in nitrogen. Too much green and not enough color will result.
In order to maintain eye appeal, you will have to keep an eye on how tall they grow. Here the taller plants are in the back but different growing conditions may produce different results. A fast-growing annual may engulf a perennial next to it that is not as vigorous. Thin the aggressive plant before it overgrows the plant next to it. Mulch may be applied for easy weed control, but don’t bury the plants.
Hummingbirds also like red geraniums, which can be planted in containers with nasturtiums or petunias. In place of trumpet vine, honeysuckle vines or shrubs can be planted. Welcome hummingbirds to your garden by providing feeders filled with sugar water in the proportions of one part sugar to four parts water. Warm the mixture until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, then cool. Refresh the feeders once or twice a week. Also plan to include brightly colored nectar flowers to the garden.
Plant List for Hummingbird Garden
Fuchsia – Fuchsia hybrida
Nasturtium – Tropaeolum majus
Petunia – Petunia hybrida multiflora
Salvia, Red – Salvia splendens
Snapdragon – Antirrhinum majus
Balloon Flower – Platycodon grandiflorum
Bee Balm – Monarda didyma
Bellflower - Peach-leafed (Peach Bells) – Campanula persicifolia
Columbina, American – Aquilegia canadensis
Coral Bells – Heuchera sanguinea
Daylily – Hemerocallis
Delphinium – Delphinium
False Dragonhead – Physostegia virginiana
Globe Thistle – Echinops
Harebell, Carpathian – Campanula
Lily – Lilium
Lupine – Lupinus
Pentstemon (Beardstongue) – Barbatus
Garden Phlox – Paniculata
Allwood’s Pink – Dianthus allwoodii
Rose Mallow – Hibiscus moscheutos
Shrubs and Vines
Azalea, Dwarf Evergreen – Rhododendron
Clematis – Clematis lanuginose
Quince, Japanese Flowering – Chaenaoeles japonica
Trumpet Vine (Creeper) – Campsis radicans
Weigela (Diervilla) – W. Florida