Saturday, August 18, 2018

In the Garden -- Spring-flowering Hummingbird Magnets

Ruth de Jauregui

Female Anna's Humminbird
Credit: BryanHanson /
The little buzzing birds that provide hours of amusement and flock to your feeders enjoy nectar from flowers and tiny insects. While feeders are wonderful for supplemental and winter nourishment, you can attract more hummingbirds to your garden by planting a selection of flowering plants, shrubs and trees that flower in succession through the growing season.

While hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers, they don't limit themselves. Any brightly colored, tubular flower is a welcome addition to the garden. Add fast growing annuals to attract not just hummingbirds, but also bees and butterflies.

The following spring-flowering plants, shrubs and trees are just a few suggestions for the hummingbird lover. Nearly any flowering plant that produces nectar will attract a hungry hummer.

Credit: lisaleo /
The lupines are early bloomers. Available in both annual and perennial varieties, the seeds may be planted in early spring in nearly any climate. Alternately, plant seeds in late spring to overwinter and produce blossoms the following spring. Lupines prefer full sun and are drought tolerant once established in the garden. Depending on the variety, lupines range from 12 to 48 inches tall. An added bonus: Lupines are deer resistant. In addition to lupines, wildflowers such as California and Mexican poppies, poppy mallow and red columbine bloom through spring and early summer.

Citrus trees begin blooming in early winter and continue through spring and summer. Lemon trees may bloom year round in warm climates. While citrus trees are hardy in USDA zones 9 and 10, dwarf plants may be grown in pots and taken indoors when cold weather threatens. Hummingbirds not only flock to the fragrant flowers, they also use the dense, evergreen foliage as shelter and a nesting area.

Fruit trees, such as apple, cherry, plum and peach also provide nectar and shelter to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies in spring. Later in the season, the hummers will feed on the tiny pests that congregate around trees, such as aphids, fruit flies, gnats and whiteflies.

Native Honeysuckle
Credit: mrmac04 /
Spring blooming shrubs, such as azalea and red buckeye aka firecracker plant, and vines like trumpet honeysuckle and crossvine, attract both local and migrating hummingbirds to their profuse blossoms. The vines happily clamber over fences, walls, trellises and even dead trees.

No matter what flowers you select for the garden, native plants are usually the best choice for your local climate and soils. Then fill in with plants adapted to similar climates to ensure that your garden will thrive without requiring extra water and fertilizer.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Credit: pippalou /
Remember, if you're using sugar water to supplement their diet, use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the solution and let it cool before filling the feeders. Never use honey or red dye. Change the solution in the feeders weekly in cool weather and every two to three days in hot weather.

The next In the Garden will focus on summer flowers for hummingbirds.

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