Gardening for Hummingbirds and More

Anna's Hummingbird by Hayley Crews

All it takes is a few sunny days at the end of winter to get me thinking about the garden and how plastic sheds are affordable, which I can use as storage for garden equipment and keep everything in one place. Keeping on the theme of plastic gardening additions, there’s no reason as to why you can’t spruce up your backyard with some plastic decking for an aesthetic look. There’s no harm in giving your garden a little update, no matter what it is. Over the years I have added more and more plants to attract birds and bring color and interest to my garden. Although many organizations encourage planting native plants in the garden, my hummingbirds and I are easily drawn to the flashy cultivars that are stocked at the local nurseries.

I won’t dispute that native plants are easy, low maintenance and require very little resources! I do love those big splashes of color that you can get by adding a few non-native plants. You don’t want potentially dangerous trees or anything like that disrupting your neat garden, which is where the help of companies that provide tree services Roanoke may come in handy, so you can finally get rid of anything ruining the aesthetic of the garden.

Here are some seasonal highlights in my garden:

In late winter, Sarcococca, an evergreen shrub for shady areas, is full of small, very fragrant flower that perfume the air. This small shrub has a dainty glossy green leaf. The flowers attract Anna’s hummingbirds and the black berries that ripen in the fall and winter attract American robins and cedar waxwings. On a warm winter day I have seen honeybees out foraging for pollen on the tiny flowers.

By March, Flowering Current (Ribes), will start to bloom and just in time for the return of the Rufous hummingbirds. In addition to hybrids, the native Ribes can be found in local garden centers too. This large deciduous shrub blooms for a long period and the hot pink to white flowers (depending on the cultivar) are irresistible to hummingbirds. Another favorite early bloomer is Lungwort (Pulmonaria). This speckled leaved herbaceous perennial is another popular flower for hummingbirds. The purple and pink flower’s bloom period coincided last year with the arrival of juvenile Anna’s hummingbirds in my garden.

In early May I start getting my patio pots ready for summer plantings. I fill them with nectar plants that the hummingbirds can’t resist. Having the pots on my patio makes it easy for me to see the birds up close. My favorites are Fuchsia, Salvia, and Cuphea. All three of these have bright tubular flowers that do well in pots and bloom all summer long.

There is no shortage of flowers in my garden during June and July. Some easy to grow perennials that the hummingbirds love are Foxgloves (Digitalis), Bee Balm (Mondarda), Cape Fuchsia (Phygelis), Honeysuckle (Lonicera), and Alliums. As you familiarize yourself with these flowers you will notice they all have one thing in common: tubular shaped flowers. The tubular shape seems to be very attractive to hummingbirds.

A hot month, many of the summer flowers are starting to fade in August. This can be a hard month to keep up with hummingbird feeder maintenance. The feeder nectar needs to be refreshed every 3 days when it’s hot. Try planting some natural nectar by addingAgastache, California Fuchsia (Zauschneria), Stachys or Crocosmia. All of these are hardy and tolerant of a hot late summer.

By fall, many of the summer bloomers are still going and many trees and shrubs are starting to set berries. For those people that struggle with sorting out their trees and shrubs by themselves it might be worthwhile taking a look at a website like, this is a company that could provide a service that fits your needs perfectly. A tree service is incredibly useful when you are trying to sort out your garden. I usually see flocks of Cedar Waxwings and American Robins enjoying the berries on my crabapple tree. The mountain ash tree (Sorbus) fills with clusters of bright red-orange berries that are eaten by January. There is always the urge to get in there and clean-up the garden and put it to bed for the winter, but it’s the lazy gardener that reaps the big reward: more birds in the garden. I have found goldfinches, chickadees, and nuthatches enjoying the seeds left in the dried flower heads of coneflowers (Rudebekia, Echinacea). Varied thrush, towhees, and juncos love to scratch around in the leaf debris looking for small insects and seeds. One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong adding plants to your garden that encourage more birds!