Our bee pollinators are some of the most important insects in the world, however there are also other animals that help us out as well. Did you know that hummingbirds are also pollinators? That’s right, those tiny little acrobatic birds (and some others) play an important role, just as bees and other insects do. Anything we can do to encourage them, the better off we will be. It is good stewardship of the land and also protects the wildlife that lives such a fragile existence as well. Over 80% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators and a number of our ornamentals do as well.
Feed hummingbirds to keep them in your garden
There are many species of hummingbirds and all are native to the Americas, however just a few species migrate out of the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. In the eastern U.S., we see the Ruby Throat for the most part. There are a few Rufous that show up each season, however it is the Ruby Throat that we are all familiar with. Out west, there are as many as a dozen species that show up each summer, or even stay all year. Attracting them to our gardens is pretty simple. They’re smart and often return to the same area each year to breed and raise their families. They feed on nectar and small insects, so putting out an attractive buffet is generally pretty easy. Gardeners know to offer sugar water and there are hundreds of beautiful feeders to choose from. Nectar is easy to make. One part white sugar to four parts water. Bring to a boil and let it cool. That’s all there is to it. Commercial nectar with the red dye should be avoided. These little guys don't need any chemicals added to their food. There are several hummingbird feeders on sale for 2021 Prime Day with at least 20% off, so you can decorate your garden and help wildlife at the same time.
Container plants attract hummingbirds
Container plants that sit on the ground are great pollinator magnets. Bee balm, or monarda is a hummingbird favorite. Bees and butterflies love it as well. Bee balm is a short-lived perennial, so may overwinter for you. Crocosmia is another perennial that does well in containers and the cultivar, ‘Lucifer’ is bright red. There are a number of salvias that are especially happy in containers and several of these are perennial as well. Be sure your container is deep and wide enough to let the plants grow their best. Columbine, pentas, petunias, and lantanas are all good container plants and attract hummingbirds and pollinators too. Along with plants, offer actual water. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to fountains and misting stations.
Hanging containers are excellent for hummingbird plants
Perhaps you live in an apartment and just have a balcony. You can still attract hummingbirds. Create a container garden with plants they love and add a feeder or two. Hummingbirds will soon find you. Large hanging containers filled with bright vines and some sitting on the floor with other tubular blossoms creates a welcoming view for hummers and humans alike. Plants that normally vine are happy to trail. Scarlet runner beans are easy and put on a great show. Put 3 or 4 seeds in a hanging basket and you’ll have bright blooms in about 30 days. There’s also the added benefit of the edible beans. When they are immature, cook like string beans. After the beans develop, either let dry or shell and cook in your favorite recipe. Do not eat them raw, except for the youngest string beans. Vines in containers might need trimming to keep under control. Just snip off the growing ends when they get too long. Canary Creepers are bright yellow vines that do well in containers and the hummingbirds are attracted to the color as well. They are easy to start from seed and put on a great summer show all season. If you want to purchase plants already grown, fuchsias are great hanging basket plants and hummingbirds love them.
Help our pollinators
Creating a safe haven for pollinators is something all of us can do. Flowering plants are the best way we can help them, and if you live somewhere you can allow wildflowers to grow, that is even better. Keep in mind that native plants or species plants tend to provide more nectar than their hybrid counterparts. Watching hummingbirds is a great way to spend an afternoon. They’re bold and pretty much fearless, so you can get up close and personal with them if you want.
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