Hummingbird and Agastche rupestris by Pam KochHummingbird and Agastche rupestris by Pam Koch

The Hummingbirds Are Back: David Salman’s Hummingbird Garden

By David Salman, High Country Gardens Founder and Chief Horticulturist

In spring, hummingbirds start to make their appearance in my gardens. At first, it is one bird, and then there are 3 or 4 hanging out, sipping, fussing, and moving deliberately from flower to flower on their favorite perennials. Being an avid hummingbird gardener, my garden is bursting with "natural nectar." By choosing summer and early-fall blooming plants, my garden will provide hummingbirds with a continuous supply of nectar well into fall as they migrate southward.

Late summer is the time of the year when gardeners here in New Mexico, Arizona, and west Texas are waiting for our life-giving monsoon-like rains and the return of the hummingbirds. The soaking rains revive our heat and drought-stressed gardens, and the natural nectar plants that feed the hummingbirds will be in full bloom. We get about 60-70% of our annual precipitation in New Mexico in July, August, and early September.

The return of the rain is very good news for the hummingbirds as well. The hummingbird population in Santa Fe is transitory, with the numbers of these tiny birds peaking in early September as they move their way south to their winter grounds in Mexico, as well as southern Arizona and New Mexico. In other parts of the country, hummingbird migrations will vary in their timing and their preferred “natural nectar’ flowers will vary as well.

Plants In David's Hummingbird Garden In Santa Fe, NM

I’ve been especially enamored with the Sages and Hummingbird Mints for many decades, so my gardens are over-flowering with as many of them as I can fit into my beds. Some of my favorite Agastache include A. cana ‘Rosita', ‘Ava', A. rupestris (Grant Co., NM collection), A. rupestris ‘Glowing Embers', and the hybrid, 'Blue Blazes'. My favorite Sages include various Salvia greggii cultivars and hybrids, including ‘Raspberry Delight’, ‘Furman’s Red’, ‘Ultra Violet’, ‘Maraschino’, and a fabulous and very tough native from the Davis Mountains of West TX, Salvia reptans.

 

Hummingbird and Penstemon eatoniiHummingbird and Penstemon eatonii
Hummingbird and Penstemon eatonii. Customer photo by Laurie C.

Blooming In Early To Mid-Spring

Hummingbird and Hesperaloe flowersHummingbird and Hesperaloe flowers
Hummingbird and Hesperaloe flowers. Customer photo by Sheri S.

Blooming In Late Spring

Rufous hummingbird and Agastache canaRufous hummingbird and Agastache cana
Rufous hummingbird and Agastache cana. Customer photo by Pam K.

Blooming In Summer

Rufous hummingbird and Savlia azureaRufous hummingbird and Savlia azurea
Rufous hummingbird and Savlia azurea. Photo by David Salman.

David's Hummingbird Garden Tips

  • Hummingbirds prefer "natural nectar" from flowers over sugar water from a feeder (it's like a person choosing between a glass of natural fruit nectar or a Pepsi).
  • If there are enough flowers in the garden to support them, the feeder is often ignored. My little Rufous Hummingbird (the most "terrier-like" hummingbird species of the garden) oversees all of the beds in my front yard.
  • Spread out the plants over a wide area so that all the hummingbirds can fan out across the garden to feed, and the Rufous hummingbird can't keep chasing the other birds from the garden.
  • Position plants so that they are not all visible from one spot. Plant around corners, behind shrubs, and on all sides of the house.
  • I’m thrilled to see so many of our customers posting their hummingbird photos on our High Country Gardens Facebook and Instagram.
  • Share your photos and let us know your favorite hummingbird plants as well. We love seeing plant photos and appreciate learning about other plants that supply our beloved hummingbirds with natural nectar.
David Salman's Santa Fe Garden featuring Fall Fiesta Agastache and Hesperaloe in bloomDavid Salman's Santa Fe Garden featuring Fall Fiesta Agastache and Hesperaloe in bloom
David Salman's Santa Fe Garden featuring Fall Fiesta Agastache and Hesperaloe in bloom

Additional Resources For Hummingbirds


Shop David Salman's Hummingbird Garden Plant List