It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #5

Jetersville, VA

OK, my friends! Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #5 is hot as a firecracker for hummers and sometimes B-flies.
I could only locate slides for the two species that are so very popular with homeowners in Southwestern states, but I have a scanned print that I can pull up. This beautiful plant thrives up through at least Virginia and Kentucky. A friend took some cuttings from one of his plants in Phoenix and sent them to me. Several of those PhD academic horticulturists tried to convince me that they would not make it through our 7b winters. It was some 10 years ago that I began field trials and my plants are like the Energizer Bunny. They just keep blooming and blooming and blooming every year.

In 2001, this plant was featured in my hummingbird and flower columns that I write for a number of small county newspapers. Next thing you know, some of the big box stores started offering it. And well they should. In Southern Va., this plant is ever-blooming from mid-May until heavy frost. It dies back when delicate tissue freezes and pops back up in the spring.

The big attractions for hummers are the dominant, flaming orange and sun yellow colors exploding from clusters of small, compound flowers. Often there may be a tinge of blue or purple. Hummers and B-flies are constantly visiting my plants. Yep, those hummers really try to get territorial about the combination of good nectar production, abundant small insects and spiders. Classified as a member of the mint family, you might expect this plant to exude a "minty odor," when you brush up against it. Actually, the odor is unpleasant and lingering. Correction: it plain stinks! But the hummers and B-flies and B-bees love it.

Now you B-fly experts give those poor hummingbird lovers a chance. Name this plant !!!!

Thumbnail by HBJoe
Covington, LA(Zone 8b)

Easiest one yet! A lovely shot of lantana.

Jetersville, VA

Durn it! I just can't fool you good looking women. I did make an error that should be corrected. Lantana is related to mints and salvias by being in the same order (verbenae), not the same family. This has been a taxonomic debate for years. Lantana does share many characteristics with the mints and salvias. Having square stems is a classic trait that is common to each plant in the order. Exuding an odor when brushing against the stems is another.

I also should have included a warning that some of the Lantana sub-species and cultivars can be highly irritating and contact will result in toxic symptoms. If you have young children, caution them against touching or ingesting the berries. Some birds eat them, but you can't. Many consider Lantana a highly invasive weed, particularly in Florida. But do the hummers and B-flies love it? Yep!

Jetersville, VA

Here is another shot of Lantana. I am not sure of the species and have not taken the time to key it out. I believe this one may be a cultivar. The small individual flowers making up the cluster make a hummer or B-fly work hard for their dinner. Neither will linger very long at any cluster.

Thumbnail by HBJoe
Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Hello Joe: I had 3 out of the five you have posted, and purchased the Abelia. I may not have to expand my garden beds yet. :)

I wonder what will be next - and do I have it?

& I am one who seems to be allergic to the Lantana - I cut some back last week and the rash that popped out on my arms the next day is just now going away.


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

Interesting about the lantana and the hummers. I have six in containers and hanging pots but seldom get much interest from the HBs.

Joe, is there one cultivar that you find especially attractive to HBs?

I have read that the 'ham and eggs' version of lantana is the most hardy, but I don't know from experience if that's true...

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

Two little hummies are visiting my yard and soon I expect we will get more. Now, if I could only get the weather to cooperate! The area is absolutely devastated by drought...brown is the color of the season all over. They will have to depend on a feeder for a while...except mostly for the large Turk's Cap, which is simply my pride and joy! Thanks for posting the plants, Joe! Some people just needed the info!

Covington, LA(Zone 8b)

Lantana camara (ham and eggs) is a tough plant, but invasive and a very large grower. You can cut it back to the ground and it will come back quickly. It has naturalized in many places. Some people hate it. BUT ham and eggs supports wildlife better than most plants. The nectar is used by birds and insects. The berries are eaten by birds, insects, and probably wild animals. It's branches form a protective cover for birds.
I have an area where lantana has taken over and blooms like crazy. But I have a large yard. In a bed with other kinds of plants, it is a problem.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.