By Ed Rooney
Flowers are the key to attracting hummingbirds to your garden. An active hummingbird garden doesn’t need to be large, but it will have nectar-producing flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the spring, summer and autumn. The tiny birds feed on nectar that is produced by flowers, particularly those with trumpet or tubular bright red and orange flowers. Among their other favorites are rhododendrons, azaleas and rose of Sharon bushes.If there are hummingbirds in your area, it’s easy to create a garden that will attract these pretty creatures. To build a habitat in which they will happily nest, you just need to provide them with the components they need: flowers, water, and safe nesting space.
For northern gardens that attract the ruby-throated hummingbird, make sure that you choose plants that flower at different times during the blooming season to provide food for them throughout the spring, summer and fall. Hummingbird lures successful in northern climates include:
Azaleas, rhododendrons and roses of Sharon make a great background for hummingbird gardens. They bloom early in the spring and continue blooming through the early summer. Pink and bright red varieties are favored, but hummingbirds love all rose of Sharon varieties.
Bleeding hearts and red mountain columbine bloom in the early summer, as do petunias, morning glories, trumpet vines, trumpet honeysuckle, and impatiens. An expanse of shade-dappled impatiens is a powerful attraction for hummingbirds, who find their feeding grounds by sight.
Butterfly bush, day lilies, garden phlox, bee-balm and impatiens all will keep hummingbirds returning through the autumn and attract late migrators.
Hummingbirds also need tall spaces to perch and nest in your garden. By choosing a few taller bushes or trees, you can provide both. These provide shelter from predators and small branches for perching and resting.
Water is important to hummingbirds, but unlike larger birds, they will seldom take advantage of a bird bath or bowl of water. Instead, they relish cool mists. A garden hose with a misting attachment or a small fountain that can be adjusted to a fine mist will make them happy.
A few strategically placed hummingbird feeders can enhance your view of the hummingbirds as they hover and feed in your garden. There are dozens of commercial feeders designed to be attractive to the little wanderers. Choose feeders with bright red accents, and a capacity for about 8 ounces of sugar water. Rather than using one large feeder, place 2-4 of them around your garden, out of sight of each other if possible. Hummingbirds are notoriously territorial. By providing several private feeding stations, you’ll increase the number of hummingbirds that you attract.
Ed Rooney is the creator of http://www.garden-helper.com – an online gardening resource for gardeners to learn, share, plan, and shop for their gardens. Articles, forums, blog, plant fact sheets, zone maps, garden designs, garden business directories, shopping recommendations, recipes and more can all be found at http://www.garden-helper.com
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