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One of the greatest joys of having a flower garden is watching the hummingbirds dart from flower to flower-wings buzzing away while their tiny bodies hover in mid air. Late winter signals the start of the hummingbird migration as they head back to their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada. The males will return first, with the females arriving a few days behind them. Here are some tips for attracting hummers to your garden this year.
Trees & Shrubs
Abelia, Azalea, Bottle Brush, Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Cape Honeysuckle, Catoneaster, Hibiscus, Flame Acanthus, Flowering Current, Flowering Quince, Lantana, Lilac, Manzanita, Mimosa, Red Buckeye, Tree Tobacco, Turk's Cap, Weigela.
Bougainvillea, Coral Honeysuckle, Cypress Vine, Morning Glory, Rosary Vines, Scarlet Runner Bean, Trumpet Creeper, Trumpet Vines.
Perennials: Bee Balm (Monarda), Canna, Cardinal Flower, Columbine, Coral Bells, Gladiolus, Four-O-Clocks, Foxglove, Iris, Hosta, Hummingbird Mint (Agastache), Little Cigar, Lupine, Penstemon, Yucca
Annuals: Beard tongue, Firespike, Fuchsia, Impatiens, Jacobiana, Jewelweed, Nasturtium, Petunia, Salvia, Shrimp Plant, Spider Flower, Zinnia.
Ideally, feeders should be hung near windows-close enough to watch the action. Cutouts of predatory birds or partially closed vertical blinds will prevent bird strikes on windows, although that seldom seems to be a concern with hummingbirds. It isn't uncommon for hungry hummers to empty feeders quickly so check them daily. Also, be aware that in some areas (parts of the southwest), sugar loving bats also like hummingbird feeders and may empty them overnight. These bats are important pollinators to desert plants, so don't harm them, just bring your feeder indoors for the night.
Recipe for artificial nectar:
Boiling this syrup is not necessary. Fermentation problems are caused by organisms on the bird's own beaks, not by the water. Unused syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Syrup will spoil quickly in warm weather so discard any unused portions after a few days and refill with fresh syrup.
Do not use Jell-O, honey, brown sugar, or fruit in your feeder. These can harm, and in some cases even kill hummingbirds. Do not use distilled water (it lacks important trace minerals) or red dye to color the water in your feeder (the base of most feeders are colored and if not, hummingbirds are smart enough to figure it out anyway).
When I put up my first hummingbird feeder, my husband and I were sitting on our patio, and as he was saying "I don't think we'll get a hummingbird here", a Ruby Throated Hummingbird comes swooping down to take a drink of nectar from the feeder I had hung.
For the first time, I have hummingbirds in my yard. For the first time, I grew salvia coccinea, and the hummers love it. I also have petunias, nasturtiums, and some "four o' clocks" that I've heard hummingbirds like, but have never seen them at those flowers.
Hanging baskets are a great way to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Once they find your flowers, they will return again and again, to dine on them all season long.
I have lots of flowers outdoors, and we usually we get about 1-2 hummingbirds. This week we've counted 4 at one time. I went outdoors with a red shirt on, holding the hummingbird feeder with my arm outstretched. 2 hummers came up, and 1 ate from the feeder as I held it.
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When are the best times during the year and during the day to put a hummingbird feeder out?
By Elliot M from Cleveland, OH
I plan to put out a feeder in about two weeks and I am in east central Indiana. Leave the feeder out until at least two weeks after you see the last hummer. Leave them out all day and night, but do keep them clean and DO NOT USE food coloring. Hummers are curious and they will find the feeder.
Use just plain water and sugar, about 3 to 4 cups of water for each cup of sugar. Hummers like it sweeter, but this mix is better for them. You do not need to buy the mixes, but it must be real sugar as they need it for energy. There are many sites about hummers.
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I was given this wonderful pass-along plant, Salvia guaranitica. I was told the common name was "Hummingbird Plant" and now I know why! This fabulous and beautiful plant has long, tubular blossoms that attracts hummingbirds. I have thoroughly enjoyed the addition of both plant and hummingbirds in my summer garden. After the initial flush of bloom, I pruned the stems and it flushed again! I would highly recommend this plant for anyone who enjoys nature!