HOW TO GARDEN FOR HUMMINGBIRDS

Planting a garden for hummingbirds is a great way to keep them coming to your property.  Once a hummingbird discovers food, it will remember where that food source is.  The more food you provide, the more birds are likely to feed on your property.  

Hanging hummingbird feeders is one way to provide food, but planting hummingbird friendly plants is even better.  You never have to worry about spoiling food or sterilizing feeders; and if you go away for an extended period, the hummingbirds are never without their food source.

The kind of plants that hummingbirds love are nectar-providing tubular flowers.  They love all kinds of flowers, but tubular flowers are harder for other pollinators like bees and butterflies to get deep inside for the nectar, so it is always there for the hummingbird.

Of course, what you plant depends on what normally grows in your weather zone.  If you are near the South American rainforest where Heliconia, orchids, bromeliads and Monkey Brush Vine easily grow, you won't be planting the same kind of garden as someone who lives on the Northeast coast of the United States.  There you will be planting cold-tolerant plants such as honeysuckle, azalea, bee balm and morning glory.

The best thing to do is research native plants for your area.  Many cultivated flowers bought in garden stores may look pretty but don't have much value to hummingbirds.   This is because these flowers are cultivated and cross-bred to produce an appealing size, color and shape.  They are not bred for high nectar content.  Choose red, pink, orange and purple over yellow, blue and white.  The more fragrant the flower, the less appealing to hummers.  Hummingbirds do not have a sense of smell, so smelly flowers have adapted that way to attract bees and insects.  

You should plant several different kinds of plants that bloom at different times, so your birds will have a constant supply of food.  You can also think about planting a few bushes that have fuzzy plant fibers to help the females with nest-building.  In addition to flowers, plant a few trees.  Hummingbirds spend most of their time perching, and trees provide the perfect resting spots.

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