Garden

Love Hummingbirds? Five Ways to Bring Them to Your Garden


There’s something magical about hummingbirds. They’re like tiny iridescent gems buzzing around the garden with their stunning emerald and ruby tones. They’re extraordinary in their size, speed, and maneuverability. As fast as they buzz in to a flower patch, they’re gone in the next second, off to find more nectar to fuel their high-speed lifestyle. According to the National Audobon Society, these miniature dynamos beat their wings more than fifty times a second to achieve what looks like perpetual motion! Viewing these sprightly creatures each day is a treasure and keeping them coming back to my yard is a big priority when I’m planning my outdoor space. Over the years, we have successfully increased hummingbird sightings in our little garden, and every year they keep coming back bringing that little bit of magic with them. Here are some steps you can take to increase sightings of these nimble creatures in your yard.

Landscaping:  If you’re planting new trees, shrubs, and vines, take into consideration their appeal to hummingbirds. We were lucky enough to move into an older home where the previous owner had planted a red buckeye tree that bears tons of red, tubular flowers in the Spring. Hummingbirds love zooming through the tiny white flowers of our Allegheny viburnum. Because of this pretty tree produces berries, other birds congregate here as well, including cardinals, catbirds, mockingbirds, and waxwings. The butterfly bush is another big hit with hummingbirds. You definitely want to plant this where you can enjoy it because it will also attract all kinds of butterflies. The plant is really more of a perennial flower that should be trimmed back in April so it will bloom in late Summer. Other landscape elements hummingbirds enjoy include crabapple, rhododendron, redbud, and trumpet vine.

I love my trees, perennial gardens, and annual pots, but any success we’ve had with hummingbirds comes down to one thing: the all-important hummingbird feeders. Feeders will help the birds find your space early in the season when nothing is blooming and keep them happy between flowerings. In my experience, the feeders will attract hummingbirds to your yard, even if they end up feasting on flower nectar. It’s important to choose a good feeder that you can use year after year. I really like this feeder I was given as a gift from my husband this year. It has a vintage look which adds to the charm of our garden at our old colonial cape cod home. The red glass container attracts hummingbirds even if you choose to use clear nectar. The other feeders I like to use are these extra small ones. I have some cup hooks hanging from the wooden pergola over my patio that make it easy to put these up and down. What I like about them is I can fill them with a small amount of nectar and they really attract the birds. Because I hang them right over the patio, we have seen hummingbirds stopping to take a break by the feeder, perched on wisteria branches! Make sure to change the nectar and clean your feeders every three to four days.

Roses are always showstoppers of the garden, and our red knockout roses seem to get the tiny birds’ attention! But roses don’t have the nectar hummingbirds crave. Plant some beautiful lilies from bulbs to enjoy next Spring. You will enjoy their regal beauty for years to come, and they are also a draw for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, but they frequent our numerous pink lilies throughout the summer season. Hummingbirds also enjoy the flowers of tiny coral bells. Phlox is a tall, old-fashioned flower perfect for your hummingbird garden. Flowering sage and delphinium attract the tiny visitors to our garden. The absolute best perennial we have grown for attracting hummingbirds to our Pennsylvania garden is bee balm. When it begins to flower mid-summer, the hummingbirds can’t get enough!

Like most gardeners, I can hardly wait for container planting each Spring. Every new year provides the opportunity to get creative and plant something original for our patio, combined with some old favorites, of course! Containers are great for small space gardens.  Even a windowbox garden affords the opportunity to attract hummingbirds. This year, I chose to emphasize reds which proved an excellent strategy for enjoying hummingbirds up close. For hanging baskets, try some stunning fuchsia or lantana. I planted ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ fuchsia this year and it was fantastic! We saw hummingbirds in this lovely plant every day. I will be buying this again, and if you’re lucky enough to enjoy it year-round, give it a try!

Hummingbirds absolutely loved the Mandevilla and red wave petunias I planted this year. The red hibiscus was also a big draw. You could also choose snapdragons, four-o-clocks, nicotiana, zinnias, and angel wing impatiens to attract hummingbirds to your flower border.

Most birds appreciate having a source of water around, and hummingbirds are no exception. Try placing a birdbath or a bubbling fountain in your outdoor area. Birds are attracted to moving water, so our fountain has brought a huge variety of birds to the patio. We have a birdbath and fountain strategically placed in our backyard, and the number of birds who get up close to us humans to enjoy a quick bath is surprising!

What tips do you have for hummingbird gardening? We would love to hear from you!

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