Flowers, water, shelter attract hummers

Monarda is a good hummingbird plant.

Monarda is a good hummingbird plant.

Who hasn’t been spellbound by the wonder of a hummingbird darting and hovering over nectar-filled flowers?

Adding the right plants to your garden will increase your chances of seeing them on a regular basis.

Northwest Louisiana Master Gardener Lynn Eddy shares her experiences and tips for hummingbird gardening:

There’s more to it, she said, than just planting a bunch of flowers.

“You want to be able to provide for all of their needs, so when they come to your yard they are able to have shelter, water and food,” she said.

First things first: Decide where to site your garden.

“This is one where you want to be able to see while you’re drinking coffee or having your cocktail in the evenings. They’re just so entertaining.”

Once you’ve chosen the site, consider the conditions, such as amount of sun and any drainage issues, so you can choose the right plants.

“Make it as low maintenance as you can,” advised Lynn, who recommended using native plants when possible since they are likely to need less water and fertilizer, and be more disease and pest resistant.

Research bloom times so you can be sure to have something blooming from March to October. Because many of the hummers native to our area migrate 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to their winter grounds in late summer/early fall, it’s especially important to have late-blooming plants to fuel them for the trip.

While hummingbirds need nectar for energy, they also require protein, which they obtain by eating insects, to survive. That’s why it’s important not to use insecticides in your hummingbird garden.

A source of water, such as a shallow bird bath or pan, and shelter in the form of trees or large shrubs are also essential to your hummingbird habitat.

Lynn also offered a list of proven hummingbird plants. One thing many of them have in common is tubular flowers, perfect for hummers to insert their beaks and lap up the nectar inside. Other plants with tubular flowers are likely good candidates too.

Recommended plants:

  • Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)
  • Penstemon cardinalis, Havardii (scarlet beard tongue)
  • Monarda lamiaceae, Jacob Cline
  • Stachys coccinea (scarlet hedge-nettle)
  • Spigelia marilandica, (Indian pink)
  • Malvaviscus drummondii , (turk’s cap)
  • Salvia greggii (autumn sage)
  • Cuphea ignea (cigar plant)
  • Salvia guaranitica, Black and Blue sage
  • Salvia elegans (pineapple sage)
  • Salvia ugliosa (bog sage)
  • Aniscanthus wrightii (flame acanthus)
  • Dicieptera suberecta (hummingbird plant)
  • Hesperaloe parvifloa (Texas red yucca)
  • Agastache (hummingbird mint)
  • Hamelia patens (firebush)
  • Aesculus pavia (scarlet buckeye)
  • Erythrina bidwillii (coral bean tree)
  • Campsis radicans (trumpet vine)
  • Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)
  • Tecoma capensis (cape honeysuckle)

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