There is something extra special about seeing a hummingbird. I don’t know if it’s their beauty, speed or dexterity that makes them so fascinating, but I just love spotting one in my garden. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
Encouraging hummingbirds to stopover isn’t tough. All you have to do is set out the buffet and they will find you. They are always up for a snack; typically eating seven times per hour and visiting around 1,000 flowers in a day. Some of their favorite plants and a few well-placed feeders is enough to invite them into your garden.
Start by providing natural sources of nectar. They don’t have a very good sense of smell, but they are still able to track down their favorite foods such as hosta flowers, hyssop and penstemon. If you really want to draw a hummer in, choose plants with tubular red flowers like scarlet honeysuckle, red petunias and red salvia. Their long slender beaks are designed to access nectar in these blooms and they really do love the color red.
Hummingbirds also feed on soft-bodied insects for protein. In fact, the nectar is really just fuel for the insect hunt. If you want to provide a balanced diet, skip the pesticides. Given that a single hummingbird will eat several dozen bugs and spiders a day, you won’t need pesticide anyway.
To bring a crowd to your garden bolster the flowers with a few feeders. There are many types of feeders available, but I suggest getting one that is simple to take apart and clean. You will need to take it down every few days to rinse out and fill with fresh nectar so make it easy on yourself. Also look for a feeder with a perch. Hummingbirds spend most of their life at rest so choose a feeder that will allow your visitors to take a well-deserved break.
When it comes to hanging the feeders look for a location that is out of direct sunlight and close to their favorite plants. A shady spot will keep the nectar from quickly going bad and the plants will help the birds find the feeder.
As mentioned above feeders need cleaning and refilling every two or three days. If a hummingbird detects spoiled nectar, it won’t come back. Rinse the feeder in hot water every time you refresh the nectar. Soap isn’t necessary and don’t put it in the dishwasher. Once a month soak it in a solution of Â¼ cup bleach and one gallon of water.
Hummingbirds have the memory of an elephant. Once they discover your garden they will come back every year as long as there is food.