The Dance of the Hummingbird

Ruby Throated Hummingbird with red salvia

Photo: Bud Hensley (Bud's Hummingbird Photography)

From the quick vrooom of their flight to their chitter chatter in the trees, one quickly learns to recognize when hummingbirds are near. For many years I've deliberately planted tubular flowers to attract these beautiful winged jewels of the garden. Their daily visits year round are a great source of enjoyment. I want to share this joy and my experiences observing hummingbirds with you.

My top three plant choices I've found to almost guarantee a visit and keep them coming include hot orange-red Crocosmia Lucifer, bright red Monarda 'Jacob Cline', and Salvia guaranitica 'Amistad'. Truly just about any bright tubular flowering plant is a good choice, but the genus Salvia is particularly nectar rich. Vibrant purple 'Amistad' is my top choice of all the Salvias I've ever grown because it's so beautiful, floriferous and long blooming it is a worthy addition to this top 3 list. Last year my 'Amistad' bloomed continuously into December with regular visits from the hummingbirds every day.  Over the years I have observed them, these are their consistently favoured food sources over other plant offerings in my garden.

Monarda, Crocosmia, and Salvia Guaranitica

Every year, I add more hummingbird friendly annuals and perennials that suit my small part sun/part shade backyard. I have several long blooming hardy fuchsias which I love. They will visit these until my top three start to bloom. But they clearly prefer flowers they can approach head on as opposed to bottom up (like the fuchsia). They also really like to perch and eat whenever possible to conserve energy, so for this reason I've observed the Crocosmia to be their #1 choice.

Crocosmia

With my garden at its peak in July with so many plants they love, I'm seeing not just one at a time, but up to three coming through my garden almost regularly all day. They are very territorial and will often chase other visitors away. This is the most charming high speed dance; zooming, flitting and chittering around each other; their antics are such a joy to watch.

Female Ruby throated hummingbird with Blue Salvia guaranitica

Photo: Bud Hensley (Bud's Hummingbird Photography)

Hummingbirds have their own personalities. Some are very timid and will fly away at any movement, while others get to know you and will tolerate your presence. It is such a treat when they decide you are worthy of a closer visit. Recently, when the sun was shining on my freshly dyed red hair, a hummingbird decided I might be a possible food source. He hovered several feet from my face which gave me the chance to admire his bright ruby throat close up. Another close encounter happened when I was standing perfectly still in the garden beside a 6-foot Monarda, and was treated to an up close feeding about a foot from my face. Another time I was wearing a dress with red flowers and again, I was approached as a food source! The first thing they notice is their favourite colours; bright orange and red. Have an assortment of flowers in these colours, and you will surely attract their attention.

Diane's Garden

Once they have found your garden, they will remember and return again the following year. The trick is to extend the bloom period as far into late winter and from early spring as possible. Once all my hummingbird plants are finished blooming, I'll put out the feeder for the winter, putting it away once the flowers start to bloom again.

These tiny, exquisitely feathered friends are truly worthy of your effort to make them regular visitors.

P.S. If you love hummingbirds as much as I do consider following Bud's Hummingbird Photography Page on Facebook. He lives in Southwest Ohio, has beautiful photos and lots more advice on what plants to grow.


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