Hummingbirds can be kept happy in many ways

There are many options for keeping hummingbirds happy

Tracey FitzgibbonQ. I started feeding hummingbirds during the pandemic lockdown and have been darn right successful. I don’t have many flowers blooming in my yard that attract them, but they really enjoy my neighbor’s desert willow’s blooms and my feeders, since I keep them cleaned and filled regularly. I do have a bed that I used to grow tomatoes in for years, but haven’t in the last few. Now I’d like to plant several perennial plants that will give my hummingbirds more choices in their diet. Please, would you name off a few for me? Thanks! – F.H, Albuquerque

A. Not only will you be able to offer your hummingbirds a more varied diet, but several easy-to-grow perennials look so pretty when in bloom. Some smell great, too.

The first on my list of tried-and-true attractions will be Agastache. I know it as licorice mint hyssop. The delicate trumpet-shaped blooms of orange-cream with a hint of pale lavender are so very pretty. This plant is a really touchy-feely type of plant. I have some near my patio door and every time I walk by I either pinch off a leaf or just run my hand up a spike. The scent that comes off the plant onto your palm is heavenly.

Next consider a Zauschneria or hummingbird plant. Any nursery worth its salt will know this easy-to-grow plant. Good bright-green foliage that supports spikes of true red blooms will attract with ease.

You could also search out members of the Penstemon family. There are several varieties in this family that will make for lots of happy hummingbirds.

Then there are plenty of Salvia plants, some annual and others perennial that have flowers in the color spectrum to attract hummingbirds. A couple of plants that I didn’t originally think of as hummingbird attractors would be bee balm (Monarda) or red hot pokers (Kniphofia), which have such remarkable flowers.

Another choice that has the ability of spreading like wildfire and sometimes takes over would be Jupiter’s beard, also known as red valerian (Centranthus). It offers blooms in clumpy globes. Keep in mind it will self-seed easily, so in order to prevent that, keep it dead-headed for shaping and control.

If you have some shade in the bed you’re planning on developing, consider growing some columbines and Heuchera.

The Heuchera, commonly known as coral bells, offers lush foliage that look like tufts of leaves that then throws up delicate bloom stalks.

If you have the room and are willing to offer a support system, there are honeysuckles that bloom not in the traditional yellow-cream colors, but have coral-yellow-pink colored flowers.

I hope that you are noticing a common theme to the flowers listed here. The majority have trumpet-shaped blooms.

One of my favorite websites that is chock full of photos and great descriptions of hummingbird attractors is High Country Gardens.

You could spend hours looking at all the terrific plants that you and your hummingbirds could enjoy. Best of all, the majority of the plants grow pretty well here.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration on planting for your hummingbirds because it’s a real good thing that you want to do. Not only will the hummingbirds be encouraged, but all manner of other pollinators will benefit from your gardens.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to features@abqjournal.com.

 

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