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For the Birds: Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

by Sara Pitzer

Hummingbirds eat while hovering on the wing. They like nectar and tiny insects from bright, tube-shaped blossoms and bright flowers with deep throats. And while hummingbird feeders on the porch and near the window are nice for bringing the little birds up close, watching them hover around the garden, darting from vine to vine and flower to flower, has a special charm, too.

One of the best annual vines to attract hummingbirds is the Cardinal Climber (Ipomea x multifida). Another is the scarlet runner bean. In upright plants, any of the red salvias appeal to hummingbirds, as do the bright cleome or spider flower and the sprawling nasturtium.

Among the easy-to-grow perennials, try lobelia, ornamental oregano and monarda (bee balm). Honeysuckle, which often grows wild, also attracts hummingbirds but the wild kind tends to take over everything else you've planted, so ask at your Growise Center about one of the red-and-cream cultivated varieties that behaves more moderately. An earlier blooming perennial, columbine, will offer food for hummingbirds before some of the summer's later flowers are in full production.

In dry climates Zauschneria, often known as California fuchsia, is a pretty flower that grows about one foot tall, and has bright red flowers. Your Growise Center experts can tell you which plants will do best in your region.

If you mix some plants that attract butterflies in with these flowers, you'll see that sometimes hummingbirds actually share feeding ground with butterflies. Try especially any of the tall growing phlox in brighter colors and the cultivated forms of Joe Pye Weed.

In addition to plants that grow in the landscape, add a few flowering-hanging baskets to broaden the hummingbird smorgasbord.



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