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Hummingbird heaven. August 2, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening.
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Our friend Ben enjoys seeing hummingbirds, those bold little buzzers, as much as anybody. What I don’t enjoy is the thought of setting up hummingbird feeders, then defending their syrupy contents against mold, ants, wasps and the like. So here at Hawk’s Haven, Silence Dogood and I grow hummingbird-friendly plants, the kind that provide nectar naturally and give us a season-long display of beautiful flowers in the process.

Our hummingbird-attractors start with spring’s columbines. Then there are our trumpetvines, phlox, jewelweed, fuchsias, cannas, agastache, and monarda (bee balm). But for us, the real highlight comes now, when our rose-of-Sharons come into bloom.

Rose-of-Sharon shrubs are easy not to love, the sort of trailer park of plants. They leaf out really late, so you’re looking at bare branches on your rose-of-Sharons long after everything else displays lush growth. If you grow them, you’ll spend hours every year cutting down “volunteer” bushes. And even when they leaf out, they’re completely boring until they come into flower.

However, we tolerate and even encourage rose-of-Sharons here at Hawk’s Haven for their hummingbird-magnet attraction. It’s well worth months of boredom to see the little hummers visiting the blooms (which are actually quite lovely). We encourage milkweed (the preferred food of monarch butterfly caterpillars) and pawpaws (the preferred food of zebra swallowtail caterpillars) for the same reason: We enjoy the wildlife as much as the plants.

There are plenty of other hummingbird plants to choose from; I suggest that you look into the best ones for your region. (And if you live in a cold climate, as we do, don’t forget that plants like fuchsias and cannas do fine in containers.) Bring on the buzzers!

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1. Becca - August 2, 2013

Our hummingbirds enjoy the firebush, firespike, bleeding heart vine and the salvia macrophylla. My rose of sharon won’t bloom enough for the hummingbirds to find it! We also don’t have many hummingbirds in our yard. They come through in March and then again in the fall.

Thanks for the update, Becca! I can’t believe I didn’t mention the salvias! Pineapple sage is a special hummingbird fave. We in the East are generally hummingbird-poor, with just one species compared to the many out West. But I think that makes a sighting even more special!


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