New thread: Hummingbird Super Plant

Jetersville, VA

Confession: I have been hiding something from my friends on this forum and I am wondering if I really should unveil my secrets. Maybe I should tease you - a little bit at a time. Lets have some fun !

There are several hummingbird SUPER PLANTS out there that hummingbirds can't resist. Unfortunately, many hummingbird enthusiasts never heard of these plants that were originally from Mexico. Some are also native to our south-western states. Most nursery people don't have a clue as to their identity.

I was told by our Va. ag college "experts" that these plants would never survive our 7b winters. Nine years later, trial plants have not only survived, but have thrived. Our neighbors become so envious as they watch two to five hummers continuously fighting for nectar rights. Redish-orange, tubular flowers supply lots of nectar for energy and host bunches of tiny spiders & insects, which provide protein. No wonder hummingbirds start to drool when they approach these plants. Anybody curious enough to play the game?
I will show you one picture at a time and let you try to identify the plant. If you get it right, I might even reveal where you can get seeds or potted plants. First plant coming up !!! (Shot taken from pg. 52 of the book HUMMINGBIRDS AND FLOWERS THEY LOVE).

Thumbnail by HBJoe
Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)


Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Mmm....maybe Aesculus pavia?

Jetersville, VA

Wow ! One of you nailed it (followed by a ? mark)! I will share one more shot so you can be convinced.

Thumbnail by HBJoe
Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I vote for Penstemon, possibly Penstemon eatonii. I have Penstemon barbatus coccineus Jingle Bells Beardtongue which the hummers love! It starts blooming in spring and the blooms fade early July. I cut it back and get another round of flowers. I have it planted in the ground and in winterized pots for a few years now. I collect seeds, sow them in buried pots to stratify over the winter, and have seedlings in the spring that bloom the second year.

Thumbnail by hummer_girl
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Yes, I concede. Penstemon. Which one, I don't know.

I have several Penstemon 'Huskers Red' which are of little interest to the HBs of course, because they are not red flowers (which I didn't realize when I bought them) and probably hybridized to the point of having no nectar, too!

Jetersville, VA

Wow, your consensus of agreement is overwhelming and you are right! This plant is a Penstemon, which represents one of the most widely spread plants(at least through Zone 4). The number of species is also way up there. Judy, you are most perceptive. Whenever horticulturists get together to mess with the genes of a plant, the plant buyer loses something for the feature selected, ex. + color with - nectar production. Hybridization of closely related, closely grouped plantings can and will occur with similar results.

This particular plant germinated from seeds found in an Arizona canyon. It has survived our 7B Va. winters for 4 years and has not transmitted any bad stuff to other penstemons (isolated by pure species clusters). I have yet to determine the exact species. When my last book went to press, the photo remained "identified" as an unknown member of the Penstemon family. Hummers constantly fight over it.

Similar plants available from High Country Gardens (NM), Goodwin Creek Gardens (Oregon),
Lowes Garden Centers. Best seed selections from hikes in Az., Diane's Seeds(Or?), Wildflower Seeds (Tx.)
Next plant tonight.

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