A Hummingbird Haven: You Can Grow That!

Who doesn't like hummingbirds? I can't get enough of them, with their unmistakable cackling buzz startles me every time I hear it.

It's a sign they're closing in on a nearby plant. I like to make sure I have a regular hummer smorgasbord so that they'll put my garden on their flight path.

According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, hummingbirds are territorial. I actually knew that, and have seen two hummingbirds in my garden chasing each other around. But it's hard to consider something that weighs less than a nickel threatening.

Hummingbird love affair with Cuphea 'Vermillionaire.
The hummingbird "meat and potatoes" plant seems to be Cuphea 'Vermillionaire,' an unobtrusive tropical that asks for little in fertilizer or water. I actually wintered the plant over in the mudroom, which gets little light but seldom falls below 50 degrees F.

I have a plastic-coated metal panel as a support for my Monarda. Its horizontal wire has done double-duty as a perch for the hummingbirds. As I watched the two birds, I'd see one sitting on the wire near the Monarda while the other plied its favorite flowers for nectar.

The feeding bird must have kept his nemesis in view, because whenever the bird left his perch and headed for the flowers, a major set-to took place between the two aerialists.

Pentas is popular with hummingbirds, too.
I'm pretty sure I planted enough for everybody, but hummingbirds don't see it that way. It takes a lot of energy for these little guys to survive. They track nectar sources with even more determination than a sugar junkie prowls the cookie aisle at the supermarket.

I grow Pentas and Salvia, which seem to be special treats for the birds.
Agastache 'Blue Blazes' cavorts with Salvia 'Amistad'. 
Salvia 'Windwalker' is just getting started.
This year I added a few Agastaches, one of which hasn't stopped blooming since I planted it. Agastache 'Blue Blazes' looks great with Salvia 'Amistad', and the hummingbirds love it!

Salvia 'Windwalker' is new for me. I brought two plants home from Groovy Plants Ranch in Marengo, Ohio. 'Windwalker' is a cross between Salvia darcyi (Mexican sage) and S. microphylla (mountain sage). I planted them in May and they're just now ramping up for what I think will be a major bloom after flowering a little weakly through most of the summer. It is rated as hardy to Zone 5.

I've never used a hummingbird feeder. I guess I know myself well enough to realize I would be too lazy to clean it out every few days or even more often on really hot days. It's good to know hummingbirds don't turn up their cute little noses at actual plants in favor of plastic guides to sugar water.

So if you'd like to invite hummingbirds to your garden in a more natural and colorful way, know Salvia is easy and...

1 comment:

  1. I think they like about any Salvia. Jewel weed is a big hit too. I have tried to grow that and have not had luck.