They can fly at speeds up to 60 mph, travel unbelievable distances without stopping, yet are no bigger than your thumb. As they migrate from their tropical winter habitats, they search our yards for ideal locations for their summer homes. If you want these magical creatures to choose your home this summer, create a special place in your garden for them.
Hummingbirds need food, drink, and a place to rest. They are attracted to food by sight, not smell, and see the color red best. While a hummingbird feeder is a start, they will find your yard more easily if you plant a mass of special flowers just for them. They also appreciate mist or wet leaves for bathing and nearby trees or shrubs for resting.
For an attractive shade garden, choose red and pink flowers first, then add other colors when the hummingbirds become repeat visitors. Flowers should be trumpet or tubular shaped so that the birds can reach the nectar. If you include a feeder, tie red ribbons to it at first to attract the birds. Set out more than one feeder if several birds visit you, as they are territorial.
Plants for Hummingbirds
Annuals: fuschia, impatiens, snapdragon, petunia, nasturtium, nicotania
Perennials: bleeding heart, columbine, daylily, hostas, foxglove, bee balm, phlox, lupines, larkspur, pineapple sage
Bulbs: alstroemeria, gladiolus, iris, begonia
Shrubs: azalea, butterfly bush, elderberry, lilac, rhododendron
Vines: trumpet creeper vine, red morning glory
While some birds will only feed on flowers, many will enjoy the addition of a feeder to the shade garden. Insert a flower into one of the holes to initially attract the hummingbirds. Avoid feeders with yellow, as this color attracts bees.
Make your own "nectar":
Boil four cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add one cup of sugar; stir and boil for one minute. Cool to room temperature and fill feeder using a funnel. Store remaining nectar,covered, in refrigerator for several days. Note: don't add red food coloring, it is uncertain whether or not it is harmful to hummingbirds