Hummingbird gardens attract pollinators by offering food, water and a place to rest. It is helpful to understand a pollinator’s habitat to grow a hummingbird garden.
Hummingbirds are tiny birds also known as pollinators. They transfer pollen by moving from plant to plant, rubbing against a stamen then carrying pollen to the next plant.
Hummingbirds are inquisitive by nature, territorial and do not use birdhouses. They live approximately four years, but can live much longer depending on the species and their habitat. Hummingbird eggs hatch in 2-3 weeks; the birds leave the nest about three weeks later.
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Hummingbirds search for nectar and insects or tiny spiders found in many kinds of flower gardens. They find nectar by sight, not smell. So, although some of the same plants attracted by hummingbirds may be growing in a butterfly garden, each locates these plants differently.
Hummingbirds are primarily attracted to red, orange and dark purple colors. Tubular shaped flowers are favored for the amount of nectar they can hold. Flower clusters with many tiny florets, such as verbena, attract hummingbirds but are not their favorite. The hummingbird will have to make many more trips, thereby expending more energy, to consume enough nectar.
Gardeners who do not use pesticides in their flower gardens will have greater success attracting hummingbirds. Insects and tiny spiders are a hummingbird’s source of protein.
These pollinators require a source of water and a place to perch. Hummingbirds like a shallow birdbath with some moving water. If the birdbath is a shallow dish, try tipping the saucer slightly so water will gently spill over one side. A bubbling type fountain or fountain with an upward spray will work, as well. An automatic miser is another idea.
Add trees to a hummingbird garden. Hummingbirds will use small branches, twigs or leaf stems to sit on and rest.
Flowering plants for hummingbirds can be found in many types of gardens. Wildflower, perennial, scented, butterfly, songbird or cutting gardens could be grown for dual purposes. Gardeners will recognize many of the same plants in their own garden, realizing they have a garden that welcomes hummingbirds, as well.
Annual plants can be used in containers or planting beds to attract hummingbirds. Some annuals are trailing, use them in a hanging basket on a balcony or train them up a trellis in a small garden. Try these annuals: cleome, begonia (fibrous and tuberous), fuchsia, impatiens, lantana, morning glory, nasturtium, petunia, salvia and scarlet runner bean.
Gardeners plant tender and hardy bulbs in hummingbird gardens. Allium, dahlia, gladiolus and tulip are just a few to grow. Do not forget to dig up the tubers tender in colder growing regions before the first frost.
Of course, perennials are the most popular group of garden plants used in hummingbird gardens. After becoming familiar with blooms of columbine, foxglove, hollyhock, hosta, lobelia (perennial and annual), lupine and penstemon it is easy to choose flowers most likely to attract hummingbirds.
Trees and shrubs in a hummingbird garden will be used for that resting spot. Those choices able to be used for nectar include buddleia, flowering quince, hawthorn, lilac, redbud, rose of Sharon and weigela. While most ornamental grasses attract butterflies, none have nectar for hummingbirds.