There is nothing quite like the sight of hummingbirds around a feeder, fluttering their wings the way only hummingbirds seem to do. For me, it is sort of a sign that summer is really in full steam. If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when planting. The right type of flowers and color are the key to attracting these beauties.
Plants and Color are the Key if you want to Attract Hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are the among the smallest of all birds. They weigh less than one ounce and most measure only about 3 inches long. Their quick movements make them fascinating to watch and most gardeners love to catch a glimpse of them in their gardens. These birds can fly in any direction, (even backwards!) and their wings can beat up to 80 beats every second.
Since they fly so quickly, then can burn up countless calories which means they need to be feeding almost constantly. This is where we, as gardeners, come in. We need to make the environment in our yards one which will attract these beauties.
If you want to make this the best hummingbird season ever, be sure to try one or more (or all!) of these tips.
1. Flowers are the key.
Hummingbirds do not have a great sense of smell, so they rely on their keen eyesight to help them move around to their food sources. They love the color red, and are especially fond of any color flowers that are tubular shaped.
A yard that is 1/4 shaded, 1/4 part sun and the rest in the sun is best if you want to them to visit and return. Most flowers that attract hummingbirds grow best in full sun. There are lots of flowers that hummingbirds love but some of their favorites are:
- Trumpet honeysuckle
- Purple Passionflower
- Trumpet Vines
- Butterfly bush
- Red Hot Pokers
- Shrimp Plant
Don’t think just one part of the summer. Try to plant so that you will have a succession of flowers that hummingbirds love, so that you keep them coming all summer long.
2. Think Natural.
Hummingbirds not only eat nectar, they also eat some insects. If you use pesticides, you could harm or even kill the birds. It is best to skip the pesticides and see if the birds take care of the insects for you. Nature is a marvel and usually does a good job of controlling problems if we don’t interfere too much with man made products.
Allowing the hummers to eat bugs naturally also keeps them away from us and our plants! Some common insects that hummingbirds are known to enjoy the taste of are
- Aphids (this will help your roses too!)
- flying ants
- Daddy long leg spiders
- Leaf Hoppers and
- Some types of wasps
3. Have some perches in your garden.
Just because a hummingbird can fly so quickly, does not mean that he won’t get tired. He needs a place to rest too. Have some perches nearby, so he can take a break. There are even specially made hummingbird swings available! Some feature the color red, but if not, you can tie a red ribbon on them to attract him!
4. Hang Feeders.
You can either make your own hummingbird feeder, or purchase one. Try to incorporate red into the color of it, even if it is just a red ribbon flapping in the breeze. If you have a large garden, space the feeders out, so that the males do not fight over one feeder. A purchased bird feed isn’t a necessity. I’ve seen many DIY bird feeders that would also attract many varieties of birds.
5. Make your own Nectar.
Hummingbird nectar is so easy to make that there really is no reason to purchase it. There is some accepted thought that hummers respond better to home made nectar too. The recipe is:
- Mix together 1 part sugar and 4 parts water
- Boil for about 5 minutes
- Cool and store in the refrigerator
Just put out enough to fill the feeder about 1/2 full. Hummingbird feeders should be changed frequently, especially in hot weather, when the nectar can go moldy, which the birds do not like.
Should I use food coloring in my hummingbird nectar?
Also, you will notice that my recipe does not use red food coloring, honey or artificial sweeteners. All of these are harmful to hummingbirds. Start feeding in early spring when the hummingbirds start returning from migration.
6. Deadhead your Flowers.
There is no point in having a garden full of plants that will attract hummingbirds if you don’t deadhead the flowers. Deadheading encourages more blooms. More blooms equals more hummers. Easy! You can even make it easy on yourself, if you plant flowers that don’t need deadheading.
7. Retouch your red furniture
It’s all well and good to add red to your garden to tempt the birds, but if the sunlight fades these colors over the years, they won’t do much good in the attracting department. If the furniture, feeders and other accent pieces get dull, give them a new coat of spray paint to start the cycle of attracting over again.
8. Replace old feeders.
There are so many hummingbird feeders on the market. If yours is old and worn out, and the color is fading, think about replacing it with a new one. Purchase a durable feeder that is easy to fill and clean, so that you will be sure to do this task every few days.
9. Have a water source nearby.
All birds like a water source and hummers are no exceptions. Have a bird bath near by, perhaps with a few stacked rocks for a perch. Or even better, use a hummingbird mister. A mister has pinhole openings and shoots a fine mist into the air. Hummers will not be able to resist this. They will fly through the mist until soaked and then look for a near by perch to dry off.
10. Be consistent. Once you have set up your garden to attract hummingbirds, they will return each year, seeking the flowers and feeders that they visited the previous year. If you stop adding the nectar and forget to have a water source or to deadhead, they will search out a new source of food.
Keep the attraction going by being consistent in your habits, and ask a friend or neighbor to help out if you must be away for extended periods during critical times.
11. Consider the Seasons. Don’t let the cold weather keep you from attracting birds to your garden. Depending on where you live, you may even get a glimpse of hummingbirds in your garden in the winter months, if you provide the right conditions. See my tips for attracting birds in winter.
If you follow these easy tips to provide for their needs, you will insure that you will have a constant parade of these colorful, darting friends to your garden, and that they will return year after year.
What have you done in your garden to attract hummingbirds? Do you have many of them visit? Please leave your comments below.