New thread: Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #2

Jetersville, VA

Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #2.
This woody bush is a prolific bloomer from May until December in the mild winters of Southern Virginia. I have seen the plant growing from Maine down to Florida and west to California. Once it becomes established, it rarely needs any maintenance except in the hottest climate. In an area of extreme summer heat, such as around Phoenix, homeowners water them at least every two weeks. I would expect that the plant would do better in more temperate zones.

This beautiful bush will quickly grow to about 10 feet x 10 feet, so you don't want to plant it right next to your home foundation. Numerous small white blooms emit a strong, very pleasant fragrance. Flowers are loaded with nectar (for energy) and attract numerous small insects and spiders, which supplies the protein for growth and tissue repair). Main pollinators are butterflies, bumble bees, hummingbirds, hummingbirds and hummingbirds. Your grand-parents will remember this plant as a hummer and butterfly magnet, Magna Cum Laude. Winter hummingbirds will quickly adopt this plant as shelter and a major food source.
Who can identify the plant?

Thumbnail by HBJoe
Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

I don't know what it is - but I want some. :)

North Little Rock, AR(Zone 7b)

Would you please tell us the name of this plant?

My thanks,


Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

My hummers, bees, and butterflies would like one too. What is it?

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

Abelia? I don't have one, so don't know if hummers like it. But I used to go to this place that had these huge shrubs and I remember the butterflies and bees liked the blooms.

Jetersville, VA

Ms Linda, you nailed it on the head. The plant is Abelia. There are seven large Abelia plants surrounding my home (7b) and consistently, every year they attract lots of butterflies and hummers. We have been blessed with more hummers than most people would believe. Part of the reason is that we have a broad spectrum of SUPER PLANTS available to spoil hummingbirds. My daughter actually favors butterflies over the hummingbirds. Yet, she is amazed by the number of each that are attracted to Abelia. Photos & sources for some of the most important plants found along the migration route are given in the book Hummingbirds and Flowers They Love. Many local nurseries in most states carry Abelia in the springtime. That would be the best time for planting. Officially they are suitable for zones 5 -9. Many people expand that range successfully.

Sources you might try: Goodwin Creek Gardens in Oregon, The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond, Va., Lowes Garden Centers, B&M Greenhouse in Farmville, Va. and finally, Almost Eden Plants in La. I have personally ordered plants from these businesses and found them reliable. You may also have luck posting a "Wanted to Buy" notice on Dave's Garden. Another Hummingbird SUPER PLANT on Tuesday.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Funny you should mention Abelia, since I had recently read that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were very partial to it and would seek it out, so I wanted a few for our garden. And now it's confirmed to me that HBs like it too.

I read that Abelia 'Edward Goucher', an older variety, was a nice one especially full of nectar, but others metioned 'glossy' abelia. And then there is 'chinensis', too, among lots of others. Do you recommend one variety over another?

Jetersville, VA

I honestly don't know about many of the new cultivars of Abelia. My first introduction was when I was a very small child. Several huge Abelia bushes graced the yard around my parent's and grandparent's home. Mom and grandpa loved all flowers and prized their Abelia bushes above most other plants in their yard. Butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds were constantly probing the blooms and the bumblebees used to chase me around when I tormented them. I vividly recall that the small oval leaves were a deep, glossy green that contrasted with either all white or white/pink blooms. All the Abelia around our home today resulted from cuttings taken from those ancient plants. Those plants on my grandpa's farm were likely over150 years old. Abelia plants were definitely inventoried this past spring by the sources listed above. You might call one of the horticulturists (not the sales personnel) as ask about current availability & nectar production of the cultivars they carry. They may also suggest that you wait until next spring to plant. Your butterflies and hummingbirds will forgive you for the delay.

Jetersville, VA

Sorry, Judy.
I almost forgot. If you do call Goodwin Creek Gardens ask for one of the owners. Jim and Dotti Becker are charming, small town people and quite willing to share their considerable knowledge.
You will be impressed with their candid honesty. Dotti is also an accomplished wildlife artist. They have an excellent website and a toll free number. The other sites listed have also offered me excellent service in the past and may specialize in other plants that I will cover later.

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

10 X 10 feet for one. That's why I wouldn't be even tempted. I may live on 2 acres, but it's mostly the fenced yard that's usable and it's usually jammed with plants.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

I found a variety called Rose Creek that is much smaller.3-4'. a local grower says he has a 3 gallon pot for $9.00 at a farmers market today.
My daughter is going to try to get me one. :)

OOOOhhhh I've got my fingers crossed. I love plants.


Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Yeah... my daughter just called she got one of the Abelia Rose Creek shrubs.

I hope my 3 hummers that visit will come more often.
I'll be planting it tomorrow morning.

Thank you HB for the plant game .. how many are you going to do?
I am going to have to talk hubby into letting me kill off some st. augustine (which I hate anyways) lawn to make room for more plants.

Thumbnail by Ruth_Lucchesi
NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

Don't forget, different parts of the country have different favorites. They love Turk's Cap, Red Yucca and Mexican Firebush here. Don't know how many areas can grow those.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Congrats on scoring the Abelia, Ruth! What a deal for you! Please keep us posted on how tasty it is for your hummers!

Thanks, HB for your tips on Abelia cultivars. It sounds like you have a 'real deal' in your yard, which is supposed to be dripping in nectar.

Campobello, SC

Thanks for this info. I've been looking for more plants to attract hummers. 4 feeders are nice but I'd prefer to have something growing for them too......The search is on

Jetersville, VA

Regarding the old debate about which is better for hummers -hummingbird flowers or feeders, a little science can give us our answer. Flowers that attract hummingbirds offer one main ingredient: nectar. Nectar is composed of carbohydrates (sugar). That provides energy to fuel the hummer's high RPM motor. Nectar does something else for hummingbirds. Depending on the plant, it attracts numerous small insects and spiders. Along comes the hummer. He laps up the nectar and scarfs up the insects and spiders. Those little critters provide the protein that hummers need to build new tissue and repair old, worn out tissue. Excess carbohydrate is converted to body fat. That makes up the natural diet.
Enter feeders. They only provide a quick dose carbohydrates with minimum energy expenditure.
Which to use? Both ! Especially when a hummingbird is preparing for migration, he must add considerable fat reserves before he goes. Think of a hummer's body as a fuel tank. If his fuel tank is full, he is ready. Many are starting to migrate now. What actually triggers migration? Decreasing sunlight in the northern hemisphere is the ignition switch, which causes a biochemical reaction in the hummer that sets migration in motion. If the tank is not full, the bird will not survive the journey. Hummingbirds need all the help they can get. Many late hatchlings and old birds do not have sufficient fat layers to fly across 600 miles of open water. Many do not make it. Leave those feeders up. Plant lots of flowers. You will be helping our little friends survive. I keep at least two hanging all winter in hopes of attracting a winter hummer.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Here in Orlando I have never seen a hummer at a feeder. I have tried many different styles over the last 15 yrs. I end up sending them to my brother in WV who gets loads of them on feeders. 3 years ago I put in Fire Bush (Hamelia patens (sp?)) I now have hummingbirds. Not many - 2 maybe 3- but at least we see them now and then. Everything I plant is with hummers/butterflies in mind.
Jatropa, pentas, milkweed, lantana, red shrimp plants, red porterweed, purple porterweed, Yellow bells, Powder puff, Mimosa Tree,bottlebrush tree, Texas sage, blue salvia, red impatients, Hibiscus, fire cracker,cape honeysuckle and a plant I don't know the name of .. but it is a red tubular flower, budelia . The new addition getting planted tonight Abelia.

This message was edited Aug 9, 2009 12:45 PM

This message was edited Aug 9, 2009 12:46 PM

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Yes, it's weird about Florida. There seems to be one section in central Florida that is fairly barren of hummingbirds (according to the USGA maps). I don't quite understand it since it seems like the HBs would love it there.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

maybe they are all at the theme Park gardens. :)

I was at a local community park today that had loads of butterflies, queen, sulfurs, swallowtails ... on Purple lantana. I'm gonna add that to my garden soon.

Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

lol... I can see those butterflies and hummingbirds riding the 'Small World'.. too funny.
My family lives in central Florida and they also seem to see few hummingbirds.
Now my ETS do love my Rosecreek Abelia along with butterfly bush which they all seem to prefer.. The Abelia is a foundation planting. Sprawls nicely, and I just prune some long canes out and plant more. It has only grown to about 3 to 4 ft tall. Seems to love this Georgia clay.

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