Hummingbirds in the Garden

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ummingbirds are a welcome delight to the garden.  Normally people try to attract hummingbirds with special feeders and mix sugar in water.  However if you plant the right combination of flowers hummingbirds will be attracted to the flowers.  Hummingbirds particularly like the color red.  The brighter the flower the more likely a hummingbird will be attracted to it.

Hummingbirds can be found in 49 of the 50 states, as they aren’t found in Hawaii.  There are many different types of humming birds but only the ruby-throated hummingbird is found east of the Rocky Mountains.  Ruby humming birds migrate to the south in the winter months.  They will return in April each year.

Having bright red or scarlet flowers is not enough to sustain hummingbirds in your garden.  They must also have an ample supply of food, must have a place to nest, and a sheltered area. The hummingbird consumes a great deal of sugar each day.  In fact it may consume up to half of it’s weight in sugar daily.  They will feed anywhere from four to nine times each hour. A typical feeding can last up to a minute each time.  They really enjoy and look for the sweet nectar from flowers.  However they have also been known to eat sap from trees, insects, and some fruits.

Hummingbirds are attracted to color and nectar more than the fragrance of a flower.  So it isn’t necessary to select fragrant flowers if you want to attract hummingbirds. If you want the hummingbirds to stay throughout the season you have to select flowers that will bloom throughout the season as well.  This may include a mixture of annuals and perennials.  Keep in mind that the key is to grow nectar producing flowers so many wild species are a better selection than cultivated species.

Some good selections might include Morning Glories, trumpet creeper, bleeding hearts, and iris.  Other good annual selections include snapdragons, salvia, and fuchsia.  Some good selections for perennials include hollyhocks, foxgloves, and phlox.  It is a good idea to talk to your local garden center to see which of the above will do best in your area.  They should also have a selection of the varieties that will perform best and be the most disease resistant in your area.

Hummingbirds like to build their nests in branches near a water source.  They also like to build nests in conifers that offer them protection from predators.  The nests are very tiny and may only be an inch long.  Adding a fountain to your garden will definitely be a plus for hummingbirds.  They are attracted to the drops of water and the splashing a fountain makes.  Some people also recommend that you wear red in your garden.  They suggest that hummingbirds will go towards anything red.

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