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A Dining Guide for Hummingbirds

A Dining Guide for Hummingbirds

By GrowJoy

The ultimate dining experience for hummingbirds is a well-stocked garden. Obviously, they will flock to your feeders if that is their only option. And in the earliest days of spring or the dog days of summer, your feeders may be necessary for their survival. But nothing pleases hummingbirds more than offering them a nectar-filled all-you-can-eat buffet. Want to know what to set out? Read on for a list of plants that are hummingbird magnets.

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Color is Key

The ideal hummingbird bistro includes an assortment of blossoms in an array of colors, especially red. Hummingbirds can see red from far away, while most other critters, including birds and bees, can’t distinguish red at all. Therefore, hummers somehow know that if they see a red blossom, it probably hasn’t already been picked over, and they head right for it. They actually will check out any red object.

But of course, once you put out the “eat here” sign, you have to have the smorgasbord ready. Plant a variety of different blossoms, especially tube-shaped blossoms that hang and cascade. The hummer is just about the only creature that can extract pollen from a tubular blossom. So, it’s like putting out an exclusive dish for them at the buffet.

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Bonus Butterflies

There is a lot of overlap between the favorite plants of butterflies and hummers. So by planting with hummingbirds in mind, your yard will also become a gathering place for butterflies. The hummers will dart from flower to flower while the butterflies flutter about leisurely.

Stocking Your Hummingbird Buffet

There are hundreds of plant species that hummingbirds love. But you will want to narrow down your selection to those that will do well in your zone.

You’ll also want to aim for a garden that will have something blooming in it from the beginning of spring until the first hard frost. By considering the bloom times of different plants, you can come up with a mix that will achieve this goal. To make it easy for you, we have grouped the list below according to bloom times.

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Hummingbirds rely on sight more than smell. So the showier the blossoms, the more interested they will be. As mentioned earlier, they like red, and some gardeners also recommend orange. In the list below we have linked to red varieties, but you don’t need a solid red garden to have lots of hummingbirds. Just be sure to provide a decent showing of red and orange, and then go for whatever color mix suits your fancy.

One note of caution: please don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in your hummingbird garden. Hummers are tiny, sensitive creatures. Their systems can hardly handle the red dye some people put in the sugar water of their feeders, let alone strong chemicals. We know you want them to be around for a long, long time, so please be sure that the blossoms they feed on are not laced with anything toxic.

Your Hummingbird Garden Will Attract Year After Year

Hummingbirds will return year after year to a spot they like, and they will tell their friends, too. So when you create a hummingbird garden, the time you invest will reap many delights for years to come. Both for you and for the hummers.

Want continuous blooms throughout the entire growing season? Plant a variety of bushes, perennials and annuals. The bushes and perennials will be the foundation of your hummingbird garden. You can change the annuals to create a different look each summer. To help you make your choices, here are a few month-by-month suggestions:

April to May

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Photograph courtesy of GrowJoy

Digitalis (foxglove): perennial or biennial, wide variety of colors, prefers moist soil, puts on a dramatic and flamboyant display. Blooms late spring to late summer.

Fuchsia: annual, hanging blossoms ideal for hummingbirds, prefers partial shade, well-suited for containers, striking and tropical-looking flowers, blooms mid-spring to mid-fall.

May to June

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Photograph courtesy of GrowJoy

Monarda (bee balm): is a fragrant perennial in the mint family and ideal for shaded, naturalized areas. It attracts beneficial predatory insects and pollinators. Blooms from early summer to early fall.

Agastache (hummingbird mint or hyssop): perennial in many climates; heat, drought, wind and rain tolerant, deer repellent, aromatic, and nice in cut flower arrangements. Will bloom from early summer to mid-fall.

June to July

Buddleia (butterfly bush): low maintenance, drought-tolerant once established, fragrant and great for cut arrangements. Buddleia will bloom from mid-summer to early fall.

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Photograph courtesy of GrowJoy

Lantana: free flowering, tender perennial, suitable for indoor and outdoor containers, sun-lover, drought and salt tolerant. Lantana will bloom from late spring through October or November.

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Photograph courtesy of GrowJoy

Penstemon (beardtongue): drought-tolerant, tubular blossoms, perennial tolerant to below 0°, deer and rabbit resistant. Blooms from mid-summer to late summer.

Here’s to a gorgeous hummingbird garden teeming with these marvelously entertaining and amazingly energetic little gems.

Happy growing!

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