The essentials of a Hummingbird Sanctuary Garden start with rich, organic soil and colorful blooms they love. Plants designed to give them nesting materials and sites, along with a fun water feature will bring these tiny flying jewels to your hummingbird haven.
1. Plant a patch of your yard with red flowers. You can intermix other colors with the red blossoming plants to add interest and eye candy. Passing hummers will be attracted to the bright red color, and come to explore your yard. Don’t forget to add a few red garden accents or ornaments as well. These serve as additional signposts for hummingbirds who, just like real-life detectives, love to investigate! They have a poor sense of smell, so fragrant blooms don’t do anything for them. They use their eyes to find important food sources.
· Fill your garden with soil that drains well and is rich in organic material for vigorous plants.
· Choose both annuals and perennials to ensure continuous bloom all season long.
· Be sure to dead head blooms that have passed their prime. This will keep the energy flowing inside your flowers so they will produce more blossoms longer.
· No toxic pesticides or herbicides! Hummingbirds use spider silk to line their nests, and they pluck tiny insects from webs as well. Use the best natural garden materials available, and let the birds take care of the insects. You and your environment will be a lot healthier for it!
2. Hummingbird-attracting Shrubs and Flowers to try:
· Korean Spice Bush
· Trumpet Vines
· Cardinal Flower
· Butterfly Bush
· Old-Fashioned Lilacs
· Agastache (hummingbird mint)
· Flowering Quince
· Indian Pink
· Bleeding Hearts
· Mexican Sunflower
· Bee Balm
· Lemon Balm
· Day Lilies
· Coral Bells
Plant any of these beauties in your gardens, and don’t be surprised when the hummingbirds find your yard. They will return year after year as long as food is abundant. By the way, hummingbirds choose their nesting spots based on the availability of food. If you provide food plants and/or feeders, their offspring will also come back to your yard and gardens each year.
3. Don’t forget hummingbird nesting material plants:
Use trees and shrubs of varying heights and diverse leaf textures. Small trees and shrubs may shelter perfectly camouflaged hummingbird nests in the forks of their branches. Hummingbirds use lichens and mosses to ‘glue’ their tiny quarter-sized nest to the tree. This way the nest virtually disappears and becomes part of the branch on which it rests.
Witch hazel, poplar, birch, mulberry, willows, cottonwood and alders are examples of the catkin bearing trees hummers prefer to use for downy nest-lining material.
Foliage that is soft and fuzzy will attract hummingbirds as well. Think about planting milkweed, or ornamental grasses that produce soft plumes. They also love Lamb’s Ear with its fuzzy leaves, blanket flowers and honeysuckles, which are prized by hummingbirds for the silky balls of fuzz that are a natural part of the seed heads.
4. Nectar Feeders that have red feeder ports will call to any hummers in the area.
· Keep them filled with nutritious sugar water.
· Be sure to discard nectar that has spoiled. Hummers remember their food sources and return year after year. But they also remember the bad ones and avoid them.
· Install inexpensive ant moats to keep ants away from the nectar.
5. Add Water!
Misters and Drippers: Hummingbirds love to fly through fine sprays of water. Traditional bird baths are far too deep for these little jewels, so a mister is a much better way for them to clean the sticky stuff off their feathers.
Water drippers set to a slow drip will also beckon hummers. Both of these devices are available at your local bird supply store, or online. It’s another good way to call them to your yard, especially if they are located near red flower-covered bushes or plants!