Attracting Hummingbirds to a small garden!

Rockin-GrandmomAugust 12, 2013

I have a small garden with a butterfly bush, a cone flower and a few hanging red/orange impatiens. The hummingbirds love the butterfly bush, and impatiens. I have a little bit of space left for a few more plants and a vine or 2. What would be my best choices to attract the hummers? Thanks from a newbie in Central Pa!

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I'm in South Central Pa, Near Harrisburg, Newly upgraded to 7a.

I'd go with Salvia Guaranitica, 'Van Remsen' 'Blue Ensign' 'Argentine Skies' and 'Black and Blue' are the most popular. They are sold as annuals, as they are hardy to zone 7, but with a thick coating of leaves (I use fall leaves in dark colored garbage bags) they should come back next year.
If they don't you can usually replace them fairly cheaply.

Lobelia Cardinalis is a good one as well, but it likes wet, if not boggy soil.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Oh, and honeysuckle too! Gotta have Honeysuckle!

Avoid Lonicera Japonica, it is VERY invasive and should be avoided! Lonicera Sempirivens 'Major Wheeler' and 'Alabama Crimson' are good choices.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 10:43PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

From what I've seen, nothing but Lantana attracts them like tropical and annual plants, such as pentas, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' especially, Coleus (though only comes into play very late, starting recently,) Zinnias and basil flowers. A feeder?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:52AM
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woodyswife(z5 OH)

I've noticed the hummingbirds going for my Hydrangea in the last few days. I have the Forever and Ever Together Hydrangeas.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:56AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Your garden sounds beautiful.

For a vine, I agree that the red honeysuckle 'Major Wheeler' is wonderful both for hummers and for sheer beauty. Mine bloom bountifully from app mid April thru frost, and the hummers do like them. They get pretty tall and heavy--you'll need a sturdy support. If you plant it on a fence, put it where most of the weight will be taken by a post. There are also a few berries that form -- food for other birds in fall and winter.

For plants, I use agastache 'Ava'. It is a beautiful brilliant pink, and blooms from June all the way thru to hard frost. Last year I had a little hummer still visiting it in mid October. Bees love it, too, so don't put this too near where you sit. Mine have dozens of bees on them, at least four different sizes/kinds. After three years, they are nearly 5' tall.

Both of these have some blooms the first year they are planted, and abundant flowers the second year.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 1:42AM
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Hi, I have a small hummingbird garden that I started this past spring. Do the hummers go to your coneflowers? You mentioned impatiens, & I was amazed at how they loved my hanging basket! Behind the impatiens, I had red honeysuckle and they had a blast with that too! I plan to plant more honeysuckle in the spring along with another basket of impatiens. I think anything with a little cup-shaped flower that will hold the nectar is a good choice. I'm also investigating the options!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 10:52PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

I have had good use out of Jacob Cline and Raspberry Wine Monarda(bee balm), salvia coccinea, scarlet runner beans and for the shady spots Gartenmeister Fuchsia.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 11:05PM
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shillanorth Z4 AB

I just came across this video on YouTube - hummingbirds bathing in a bubbler type fountain at about the 4:16 minute mark - amazing!

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbirds in Slow Motion

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 7:10PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's a cool vid, I watched the whole thing!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 8:01AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Yes, great video. Thanks. I loved seeing the tails go up and down to steer the stopping. The water video is terrific. I'd love a fountain like that.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:50PM
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Salvia are very good for small gardens. They can easily be grown in containers even in balconies or patios. You can watch hummingbirds from very close once they become comfortable visiting your garden. They also like to shower under sprinklers.
Here is some more information on how to attract hummingbirds to gardens, even small spaces.

Here is a link that might be useful: El Paso Twigs

This post was edited by elpasotwigs on Fri, Nov 22, 13 at 13:15

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

If I only had room for five plants total, I'd skip all the hardy perennials that only bloom for two weeks. I'd also avoid anything that gets huge. I'd add a carefully-maintained feeder since a garden that small won't sustain a hummingbird all season. Here are my top three picks:

Salvia coccinea "Lady in Red" blooms all summer and continues into fall if deadheaded. Easily grown from seed if you can't find it sold as a plant. Annual. There are other colors and other red ones, but "Lady in Red" is the one I have grown and recommend.

Salvia "Wendy's Wish" is harder to find but worth the search. Blooms spring through fall. You may have to mail-order this one. Only available as a plant, don't bother looking for seeds. Perennial but has to be overwintered indoors in this climate.

Fuchsia triphylla, any of the pink, orange or red ones. Try this in the spot where you grew impatiens. This type of fuchsia is more heat-tolerant than the foofy ones sold everywhere in the spring. It not only survives summer, it blooms! Perennial but not frost-tolerant at all. Overwinter indoors, or buy a new one every spring.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Excellent advice, blooms are only 'good' during the time which they are present. Having a feeder (cleaned & maintained properly) is a must. However, taking 'feeder' pics gets boring sooner than you'd think, well not the actual taking of the pics, but then they all look the same, so only a few are needed as keepers. You'll want some flowers especially if you like to take pics.

The work-horse plants here are Lantana camara, which never stops blooming until frost.

Pentas is the same way though not hardy (which the Lantana would not be in Z6 either.)

Some very ordinary plants offer long-lasting blooms with nectar, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' which is also a fine house plant for winter, Zinnias & basil, easy to do from seeds.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 10:10AM
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I agree with spaceman13. Hummingbirds love Salvia gaurantica. Salvia Lady in red (an annual) is another great choice. It blooms all summer if deadheaded (which it doesn't need it very often because they grow upward in spikes) The hummingbirds in my garden this summer really enjoyed my cigar plants. They were the Cuphea David Verity variety. Gartenmeister fuchsia is also another good choice for shade, although I've grown it in full sun when it was in a self watering planter and it did great. Here's a picture of the Gartenmiester. I think there were three plants in there. The hummingbirds came to it often. This was taken years ago at our apartment. So glad to have an actual garden now : )

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 3:22PM
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janalyn(sw BC)

I have a bird bath with a water mister placed in it. The hummingbirds love the mist...I orginally got one after I saw them darting in and out the spray from the garden hose.
I'm lucky enough to be in an area where fuschias thrive and last a long time. Hummingbirds were still feeding from them in November.
The feeders are a must. I can't imagine a garden without hummers! :)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 3:14PM
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hawkeye_wx(z5 east-central IA)

I let my gartenmeister die this winter and I likely won't replace it. It can look nice later in the season when it cools off, but hummers here largely ignore it. Maybe if your gartenmeister is by itself it will get more action, but on my patio it just can't compete with the salvia 'black & blue' and cuphea 'david verity'.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Cuphea x David Verity has been my most popular plant with the hummingbirds. Standing Cypress also got lots of attention though it takes awhile to bloom from seed. Lobelia cardinalis does very well but I'd look for good sized plants at a nursery. Mine are near a downspout to take advantage of the extra water, which they need.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:57PM
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The long-season bloomers in my garden that are most popular with the hummingbirds are Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue', scarlet runner beans (an annual vine which has edible green beans when picked very young and dried beans when allowed to mature, though allowing them to mature will slow blooming), and the native honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler.'

Some early season bloomers that they particularly like include the wild red and yellow columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), lupine, and old fashioned red-blooming coral bells (Heuchera). The columbine and coral bells are small enough to tuck into small spots and because of their early bloom encourage hummers to settle near your garden and view it as a good spot for feeding. I don't use feeders (bears) so I plant to supply a long season of blooming favorites.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 2:03PM
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The favorite in our yard last year was the Scarlet Runner bean, which bloomed most of the year (the fresh beans are a bit "sticky" for my liking, but the dried beans were tasty, which is a nice bonus!). There was almost always one or two hummers out there, even while I worked in the bed (they let me know of their annoyance that I was keeping them from their plant). Since it can be trellised, this one is great for smaller spaces.

They were also fond of the borage plant which bloomed profusely all season long (it was also a major favorite of bees, that thing was constantly humming, if you're looking to help some other pollinators), unfortunately that one might be a bit too gangly for you.

A close third was the rat tail radish- again maybe a bit too gangly for you, but the hummers loved those and all their flowers (plus you get tons of edible pods if thats your thing, just from a single plant).

We don't have a feeder, or at least don't put it out much, but the long bloom plants keep them around most of the year. They especially seem to enjoy a fine ledge to perch on, such as a clothes line or garden fencing mesh (I've seen some perch on the garden fence to have a shower from the sprinkler before), so that might help encourage them to kick around if possible.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:53AM
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Many of the plants listed by "spaceman' are very good pics. If I could only have one plant in my garden it would be "salvia guaranitica blue ensign. I too have limited space and blue ensign will get big and spread some . It can get and will get 4-5' plus. There are many cultivars coral honeysuckle[lonicerra sempirvirens] but major wheeler seems to be the most insect resistant of ones Ive tried[not invasive]. A surprise plant for me turned out to be "pentas lanceolata" the last two years hummers and butterflies hit it daily.

I live on a small lot size property but you can attract hummers to even an area that is not wooded with the right self made habitat.

the two big bushy ones in the back are blue ensign. the orange flowered one in front is cuphea david verity.

you can do a lot in small space, the graveled in and bricked area was done by me, it also gave me extra area to place potted plants in . I do get my share of hummers, no one else in my immediate area plants for hummers like I do. The red and pink in front corner close are the pentas.

cardinal flower[lobelia cardinalis]

hummer getting into blue ensign


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:02PM
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I once saw a hummingbird sitting on the edge of a clay pot of penta. She sat on the rim for several minutes. It was at the patio table and I was inches from her. She looked like a tiny penguin, sitting up straight. It was a lovely experience.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:13PM
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