Hot Gardens Newsletter: Spring 2011
Plants that Hummingbirds Love. An Anna’s hummingbird is now visiting the Lemon tree (Citrus ‘Eureka’) outside our kitchen window many times a day. The tree is in full bloom and has become a primary food source for this tiny creature. Some days this hummingbird darts from the lemon blossoms to the bright orange Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) nearby. Even the pink Geraniums (Pelargoniums) receive an occasional visit as the hummingbird makes her rounds of this aviary grocery store. These are only a few of dozens of plants to add to your garden to attract and feed hummingbirds year ’round.
The Flame Vine (Pyrostegia venusta) grows fast to 20 feet long or more and produces dazzling orange blossoms. In warm winter areas it flowers from fall through winter, attracting hummingbirds for months on end. It climbs by twining tendrils and can be easily cut back after the flowers fade.
The Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), a native American vine, is another fast grower favored by hummingbirds. Unlike the Flame Vine it blooms bright yellow or orange in summer and thrives in hot summer/cold winter areas. Even if it has frozen to the ground in winter, it shoots up, attaching itself by small rootlets that cling to wood or stucco. The rootlets can cause some damage to stucco.
A third drought-tolerant plants to provide hummingbird food is the versatile Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis). It can be pruned into a shrub, grown on a trellis or pergola as a vine, or allowed to grow up a steep, dry slope as ground cover. Like the Flame Vine it starts blooming in fall.
Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) can be planted as a small tree. and it produces fruits in the fall which make a good jam. Its unusual-looking white and red flowers can be used in your fruit salad, if you wish, but leave the flowers on the tree and the hummingbirds will fly straight in for the nectar.
Throw away your hummingbird feeder. After you have planted some hummingbird favorites, discard that hummingbird feeder in your back yard. At the very least, stop putting sugar water in it and keep it only as a garden ornament. The nectar from these plants is far better for hummingbirds’ health than sugar water.
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