Plants that hummingbirds love

Agastache or hummingbird mint

The other morning I was just amazed as I watched two hummingbirds flutter from bloom to bloom and back. They were so colorful and so quick! The Hummingbird Society touts their “unmatched flight abilities, including hovering and flying backwards.” They look tiny and delicate and weigh only about 1/10 of an ounce, yet they are hardy and resilient. Some species migrate 3,000 miles.

We all love hummingbirds. Want to have more of them in your yard? There are some simple tricks and plants that will lure these beauties closer to you. They love blooming plants, so keep something blooming most of the year if you can. Their favorite “edibles” have long, tubular blossoms and are red, orange, yellow and blue. The Hummingbird Society folks explain that the small tubular blooms prevent some insects from accessing the nectar inside, which saves it for hummers. Our tiny friends love blossoms with lots of concentrated nectar, preferring sucrose. They will forage from hundreds of tubular blossoms to get their food for the day.

Consider adding some of the hummingbird’s favorite meals to your own landscape. A great option to begin with is Agastache, aka giant hyssop or hummingbird mint. This is a genus of about 12 species with aromatic flowering perennials with options for Southeast Texas yards. A surprising favorite of the little bird is aloe vera. Many of us grow flowering maple (Abutilon) or mallow, which the hummingbirds love. Desert honeysuckle, fushia and my favorite firebush are perfect additions. They love shrimp plant, honeysuckle, bee balm and yellow trumpetbush. Blue Salvia or sage with its huge genus of plants in the mint family of perennials and annuals are also surefire winners to attract hummingbirds. Other options are yucca, four o’clocks, hosta, little cigar, penstemon, coral bells, impatiens and morning glories.

The Hummingbird Society began in 1996 as a nonprofit to help people understand and appreciate hummingbirds. They have an excellent website that even shows endangered species. They give additional tips for attracting hummingbirds, Evidently these precious birds like to bathe regularly due to the sticky nature of nectar. They prefer very shallow, moving water or a spray mist. They may build a nest close to you if you regularly lay out nesting material near a feeder that they could use. They often re-use their nests, so leave any existing nests in place. They don’t use birdhouses for their nests because they are not cavity nesters.

Spoil them with lots of the flower blooms that they love. Also, you can make hummingbird nectar with one cup of sugar and three cups of water. No red food coloring should be added. If too many bees are being attracted, add more water and less sugar. They also eat insects and tiny spiders. More feeders will support more hummers and help reduce territoriality. Change the mixture every three to five days. If you see mold or if the liquid appears cloudy, wash the feeder quickly and put more fresh sugar water. Feeders should be at least 4 feet above ground, in some shade and not too close to a nest. Good luck and happy hummingbird watching!

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