By MIKE SKIPPER
Winston County Extension Coordinator
Words are hard to come by when describing the enjoyment that one
finds in watching hummingbirds throughout the summer months. I think
of the amazement and beauty of those tiny little creations every time
I see one and for many people, attracting them is as easy as simply
hanging a feeder. This works quite well for many people, but there
are others that this is not as easy as it sounds.
If you are a gardener and truly love hummingbirds, then perhaps you
might want to consider building a hummingbird garden. Many of us
have experienced the beauty and enjoyment of a butterfly garden, then
why not enjoy a hummingbird garden? It’s really a simple concept of
an area in our landscape that consists of hummingbird-attracting
plants. To be quite honest, in addition to maintaining those
feeders, it really is a more reliable and longer lasting method for
attracting the birds.
The concept is to simply choose a variety of flowering trees, shrubs,
vines, annuals and perennials in order to produce an excellent supply
of nectar over a long period of time. The second benefit is that we
simply then have beautified our home and landscape while drawing the
hummingbird into our outdoor home area. Hummingbirds have a complete
and balanced diet between the insects that live on the plants and the
nectar that is produced from the flowers.
When we think of a typical hummingbird flower, we think of those that
are red, have a tubular shape and no strong scent. However, there
are several exceptions to this general rule. Many plants with red
flowers do not contain very much nectar, and not all good nectar
producing plants have red flowers. For example, roses, petunias,
geraniums and zinnias have brilliant colors but very little nectar.
Plants that produce an abundance of flowers over an extended period
of time and those that require little care are great choices. When
several color varieties of a plant are available, always choose the
Trees to consider would be like Japanese Plum and Mimosa. Other
plants to give thought to would include shrimp plant, lantana,
hibiscus, azaleas, red buckeye, salvia, impatiens, bee balm, and
iris. No landscape would be complete without vines, so consider
coral honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, cypress vine, trumpet
creeper, and bleeding heart vine.
Last but not least, please remember that pesticides should generally
not be used. If absolutely needed, they should be used sparingly and
only on non-flowering plants. Use products that are low in toxicity
such as horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and Bt sprays. Please
note that when using these products not to use them if this planting
is also for butterflies. Never use systemic insecticides or rotene
on plants where hummingbirds may feed.
Get out today and have a great time with your hummingbird garden.
If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to give me a call at
the Winston County Extension Office at 773-3091.