Once hummingbirds discover a location as their source of nectar, they will continue to return. You can design a garden to attract these small wonders, encouraging them to make your garden their favorite “store,” maybe even their home.
The hummingbird is a very small bird that loves the nectar of plants, but also dines on insects and tiny spiders to get protein, particularly when they are feeding their young. By inviting hummingbirds to your garden, you benefit from their skills as pollinators and as insect and spider eradicators. According to Wikipedia, “Hummingbirds can eat up to five times their own body weight in nectar each day.”
Hummingbirds look for flowers that produce nectar high in sugar content and have a preference for cup or tubular shaped blossoms. In addition, hummingbirds are drawn by shades of orange or red (thus the reason humming bird feeders are red or orange). Fragrance is not important according to Lanny Chambers who says, “Since hummers, like most birds, have virtually no sense of smell, the flowers that attract them tend to have little or no fragrance, apparently directing their resources instead toward high visibility and nectar production.”
Small Garden or Window Box
Even if your space for gardening is limited, you can grow plants that look appealing to hummingbirds. Choose plants from the following list to use in your flower bed, flower box, or pots: Four-o’clock, flowering tobacco, impatiens, zinnia, petunia, columbine, coral bells, or iris.
For a Large Garden/Flower Bed
In addition to the plants listed above under “small garden or window box”, when you have space, plant larger items like sage, canna, azalea, hibiscus, lilac, red yucca, weigela, and/or butterfly bush to attract hummingbirds. Add honeysuckle, trumpet or bougainvillea vines to a trellis. A trellis where blossoms are high gives the hummingbird security.
Other Things To Consider
Hummingbirds like a fountain or moving source of water, like a mister, though a bird bath could do. A water source near your garden could tempt hummingbirds to nest. Also, if cats tend to roam your yard, you will want to stick with high growing blossoms to keep the hummingbird out of harm’s way.
The HummingBird Society tells us that hummingbirds “need places to perch and rest during the day and to sleep at night, usually trees or large plants such as cacti.”
Even the best garden can run dry of nectar, in which case, you can use a hummingbird feeder to keep your visitor satisfied and returning annually.
Additional Resource: www.highcountrygardens.com