question for Wisconsin folks

GoldfinchGuyJuly 20, 2013

I live in SE wisconsin ( Milwaukee County) and I see hummingbirds around my home from time to time. I would like to see more so within the next few years I'd like to make a garden for them.

I have some flowers in my yard that supposedly attract them. Maltese cross, garden phlox, and some purple columbine. The few times I've seen hummers I didn' t see them feeding from any of my flowers though. They just seemed to be passing through. My feeders have seen very little use at all within the last couple years I've been living here. I just got a hummzinger a couple of weeks ago for my birthday which remains unused.

What sort of perennial flowers have you had luck with here in Wisconsin? I am looking for ideas for my garden.

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hawkeye_wx(z5 east-central IA)

A nice patch of 'jacob cline' monarda would be at the top of my list. For me it blooms from mid June through July. It's a tall monarda, reaching 4-5 ft tall in my garden. I don't get many hummers in early to mid summer, but they always favor the jacob cline. I also have a patch of 'gardenview scarlet' monarda. It gets used a bit, but jacob cline is used much more. Monarda send out runners so the patch will expand each year. If it gets out of control the roots and runners are shallow and easy to pull out.

Another native perrenial that attracts hummers is cardinal flower(lobelia cardinalis). I started with a few small clumps and now I have several due to self-seeding. I would not want to be without 'jacob cline' monarda or cardinal flower. In addition to being good nectar plants their flowers make great hummer beacons.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 2:28PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

Google Michael and Kathi Rock - they are in Madison, Wisconsin and have LOTS of pointers, pictures, suggestions for what has worked for them over the years on their site.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 10:59PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm in Michigan, but I think that 's close enough. If you have the right spot, a Trumpet Vine, campsis radicans, would be great. They are native, but can be very aggressive in their growth habit. The native orange/yellow columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, is probably better than the purple columbine for attracting hummers. Often, when horticulturists breed in traits like color or different flower forms, they unknowingly breed out high nectar quality and other traits more valuable to birds and insects. I've also heard many of the Agastache are good for hummers, and salvias. Those are what pop into my head. If you search this sight, there are many similar threads you would find very helpful. Also, remember that with perennials the bloom period is shorter than with annuals. So, you might want to plant plants that bloom at different times so you always have something blooming for the hummers. Happy hummering!


    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 6:57AM
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Thanks everyone. I think I will probably just incorporate a few hummer flowers into the flower garden we have now.

Hawkeye, I will definitely look into cardinal flower. Monarda is unfortunately out of the question as it attracts alot of bees and my wife is highly allergic to their stings.
Docmom, its funny that you should mention Aquilegia Canadensis, because my wife planted some seeds a few weeks ago, and we now have seedlings sprouting throughout the flower bed. I only hope they survive the winter, because next year we'll hopefully have a nice patch for the hummers.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:18PM
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I'm in Michigan too, but figured DocMom was right - close enough! I also agree with the trumpet vine suggestion. I've got multiple hummers coming to both my Hummzinger feeders, and have noticed they often feed at my hosta flowers as well. (Which I thought was a little weird, since I've never seen them on any sort of list). Also, I usually buy a fuchsia hanging basket every year, which I've seen them at repeatedly. I planted some Lantana this year and snapdragons, and I've seen them at both as well.

As for your feeder, I remember when I first put mine out it took them a little while to come to it. But once they realized it was okay to go to, they've been coming back ever since - for the past 6 summers. So don't give up!

Good luck! :)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Connie Kru

I think lots of people do not put their feeders up early enough.
I think if you can catch them early when they return each spring, you have a better chance of keeping them through-out the summer. I try and put mine out by April 17th. That is the earliest I have seen a hummer at mine. (It was not out that year, but the hummer did his dance at the window where it hung the summer before, until I got a mixture of sugar and water together and hung the feeder very quickly.)
SE Lower Michigan

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Thanks! I have since learned that the "shrub" my neighbors have is actually a trumpet vine. It has sent up runners onto my property which I have removed. I took a cutting and placed it in water. When it roots I'll plant it near our backyard fence.

Ten feet from where the feeder is there are actually some hostas as well. We have some yellow snapdragons planted in containers in our yard too, so I'll be keeping an eye on those.

Now that it is August hummers will begin fueling up for the migration, so I'll keep my feeder filled!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Yes! I agree with Connie - I've always got my feeders out mid April as well. They may not show up for a few weeks, but at least they're ready for them. Also, I've noticed that more come to our feeders each year. Like the first year, I only had a couple. Now I have at least 3 females and 2 males coming, because often they'll be at the feeders together (or chasing each other away, lol). I don't know if it could be babies that are born in the area returning and the original parents or what, but I'm not complaining!

I also keep my feeders up through the first week of October. Just in case there are any stragglers behind. I've heard conflicting information about whether the feeders being out later will keep them from starting their migration on time, but it seems the general consensus that I've learned from my research is that it will not affect when they leave.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 9:33PM
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