Attract Hummingbirds To Your Garden
As the spring gardening season comes to an end, nothing is more of a harbinger of summer than the appearance of the ruby-throated hummingbird in the garden. This species is found throughout the eastern United States and into Canada. Many species of hummingbirds are non-migratory; however, the ruby-throated hummingbird often will travel as many as 600 miles, coming north from Texas, south Florida and Panama into the United States. Their arrival often coincides with the blooming of nectar-producing wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensis.
In our gardens we can add plants that will ensure the arrival of hummingbirds. Certain general rules should be followed when developing a garden to attract hummingbirds. First, add plants of varying sizes and colors. Hummingbirds especially like red, orange and pink tubular flowers and are less attracted to yellow and white. Use plants that will flower at different times of the year, thus creating a source of nectar throughout the growing season. Also, consider introducing a water element to the garden. Like other birds, hummingbirds are attracted to water. The garden should include some larger shrubs and trees that will provide protected areas for hummingbirds to perch.
The following is a list of suggested plants that will bring great color and hummingbirds to your garden.
Common name: Bee Balm, Bergamot
This perennial plant grows in full sun and reaches 3' to 4' tall. It blooms in early summer with whorls of tubular flowers at the ends of the stems. A good, powdery, mildew-resistant cultivar is "Jacob Cline."
Common name: Cardinal Flower
Also a perennial, the cardinal flower grows in full sun to partial shade and can thrive in damp soils. Reaching 4' tall, the stems are adorned with tubular flowers with flared tips. This plant is native to the eastern and southwestern parts of the United States.
Common name: Wild Columbine
Aquilegia sp. grows in partial to full shade. The flowers rise 18" above nicely dissected foliage and look like pendants hanging from the tips of the flower stalks. The flared-back petals reveal a yellow center. Growing in forests throughout the eastern United States, it will bloom in late spring.
Common name: Sage
These are all excellent ornamental flowering plants that have very attractive tubular flowers throughout the summer. These plants are very tolerant of hot, sunny, dry conditions in the garden. Varieties include: Salvia splendens, Salvia microphylla, Salvia elegans and Salvia greggii.
Common name: Butterfly Weed
Native to the prairies of the United States, this perennial will grow 2' to 3' tall in full sun. At the top of each plant is a dome-shaped cluster of intense orange flowers.
Common name: Canna Lily
This annual grows in the midwestern and northeastern parts of the United States and can reach 3' to 8' tall. It will grow in sun, shade and even standing water. "Pretoria" is an excellent form with interesting striated green and chartreuse foliage.
Common name: Lantana
An excellent ground-covering annual that will reach 1' tall in full sun, this plant comes in yellow, red, orange, white and pink.
Common name: Fringed Bleeding Heart
This ever-blooming bleeding heart will grow in partial to full sun. Reaching 1' tall, the soft pink flowers dangle from stems above the nicely dissected foliage. "Luxuriant" is a strong flowering form.
Common name: Fuchsia
All the fuchsias are excellent attracters of hummingbirds. In the Northeast they are annuals. Most grow well in sun or shade and are good subjects in a hanging basket, window box or planted in the flower garden. "Gartenmeister Bonstedt" has excellent long, tubular flowers that are coral pink.
Common name: Coralbells, Alumroot
This popular ground-covering perennial has spires of tiny pink flowers from late spring to early summer. It blooms best in partial to full sun.