Hummingbird's Delight

I really enjoyed Ms. Country Mouse's thoughtful musings about the hummingbirds, the free food, and hummingbird hill (here). I must admit I'm happy that I never worked on feeding my feathered friends with things bought from a store, but I also figure hey, if it's like providing crack to those hummingbirds, why not? It's not like they'll turn into criminals, and they're already fairly aggressive.

But I also really liked the flowering plants Ms Country Mouse planted, and I do think they will delight the hummers and impress the neighbors. So here are a few other plants that I've found attract the hummers. I've grouped them by color and season.

Many are red and orange. We have the red hummingbird sage (above, a vacation photo from Tassajara), below one from my own garden in early spring.

In summer, the hummingbird sage fades a bit, but a non-native sage takes over for a while.

And in the fall, into December, we have the shades of orange of the different California fuchsia (Epilubium) cultivars.

While summer is a bit slim in the red-flower department, the hummers actually won't mind some blue flowers. They like Triteleia, a native bulb.

Agapanthus, with its huge blue flower balls are also surprisingly popular all through summer. And blooming in mostly shade I have Salvia cacaliifolia (guatemalan vine sage). It's just a bit invasive if there's water, but easy to control and blooms from April until the first frost, usually in December.

And what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in winter and early spring? Manzanitas! The first species might bloom for 4-6 weeks starting in December, while others don't start until February.

If you have multiple species, you know you're taking care of the population.

So, is that enough? Well, actually, there are two more things.


Hummingbirds make their nests from tiny pieces of flower fluff and spider silk, maybe they'll even through in some human hair. If your garden is too tidy -- no spiders, no seedheads -- they have trouble building their nests.

2. DO NOT SPRAY. Hummingbirds feed insects to their young, and they have to find those insects in your garden. I only understood that after I looked in bafflement at hummingbirds "feeding" on my Festuca Californica and on my spring-blooming tea tree. There was no nectar. But then I realized these hummers were after even stronger stuff, and it was just for the kids.

So, with everything in place - yes, the garden is messy enough - I hope they are enjoying their comfortable nests up in the Redwood Trees and continue to delight me with their mock battles, quick movements, and chirpy welcome.


Sue Langley said…
Thanks for posting this, Mouse...nice to be able to plant the hummers source of food. Just tried a Hummingbird sage...hope it takes off!

I'm also messy and too lazy to spray or fertilize anything, so...I'm on the right track, eh?
Country Mouse said…
Lovely ideas, TMouse - I also notice on this list of plants for hummers in the San Francisco bay area:
that your cobweb thistle is also listed!
For the Sacramento area, I found this list:
In general, if you Google "native plants to attract hummingbirds" - you'll likely find a list for hummers in your area with bloom times spanning the whole growing season - they are all lovely garden plants too!
Love the little nest! I planted hummingbird sage last fall, and am happy to see it starting to fill in near some oaks and Dara's Choice sage. I'm looking forward to seeing our first Epilobiums bloom this year. I planted three varieties this spring to see how they'd do, and so far all of their silvery mounds are filling in nicely. Our native monkeyflowers seem to be attractive to hummers here in spring too. As for messy, I have that covered ;) We have enough spider webs draped in the trees here to line a million hummingbird nests, and still have some left over, and of course we never spray. I do love watching their squabbles though, especially in the fall, when I can hardly walk outside the front door without being buzzed by Anna!
Clean up spiderwebs? That would involve *touching* spiderwebs. I don't know why that sensation gives me the heebie-jeebies, but it does!

I'm wondering if my hummingbird sage is ever going to bloom...
Christine said…
Great post! I have to add Keckiella cordifolia to that list, as I observed Lisa's resident hummer sipping away in her hummingbird haven of a back garden just the other day. I've also seen them partake of the Malacothamnus, but those guys can be garden thugs.