by David Salman
In just the past two weeks, the hummingbirds have suddenly made their summer appearance in my gardens. And they will be staying around until moving south in October. At first it was one bird, and now 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 (listed below), my garden will provide the hummingbirds a continuous supply of nectar well into fall.
- Various Agastache (Hummingbird Mints), such as ‘Ava', A. rupestris ‘Glowing Embers', and A. cana ‘Rosita.'
- Late-blooming Penstemon (Beardtongue), such as Penstemon pinifolius, Penstemon barbatus, and Penstemon rostiflorus, Zauschneria ‘Wayne's Select' and ‘Etteri'
- Salvia pachyphylla and H. parviflora (Texas Red Yucca)
- Vines, such as Lonicera sempervirens ‘Blanche Sandman' and 'Sulphurea'
- Trees, such as Chilopsis (Desert Willow) Timeless Beauty.
I've 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. 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.
I have a mature Yucca rostrata outside of my front walled garden that bloomed last summer. The top of this tree-form Yucca is about 6' tall. Sticking up above its blue, strap-like foliage, I've left one of the bare flowering stems from last summer on the plant, where it is used as a favorite perching spot. My little Rufous (the "Terrier" hummingbird species of the garden) oversees all of the beds in my front yard. Hummingbirds love a bare branch devoid of foliage on which to sit. Remember not be too quick to clean up dead branches on the tops of shrubs or lower branches of trees.Text by David Salman
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