Plant for Wildlife

Low-Emissions Hummers

(Where They Fill Up)

By Kate Bryant August 30, 2009

This hardy Fuchsia speciosa is flocked with hummers all summer

We all love hummingbirds! These adroit creatures are a marvel to watch; their masterful hover and dive displays, the way they finesse the nectar from tubular flowers, and their penchant for dive-bombing people wearing red outfits is truly endearing. In our area, the two main species are the rufous hummingbird (migratory) and Anna’s hummingbird (year-round resident).

Observing these tiny, acrobatic creatures at a hummingbird feeder is a joy. But hummingbirds cannot live on sugar-water alone. They need insects to supply them with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. And they need natural fuel – flower nectar. Lots of it.

To attract hummingbirds to your garden and keep them visiting, you can plant a year-round succession of suitable flowers in your garden. Natives are ideal – but many natives have a short flowering period, so you might need a few acres.

Or, you can plant a group of long-flowering perennials to fuel hummingbirds continuously from late spring through late fall and beyond. And while red is supposed to attract hummers best, they seem just as attracted to blue, yellow, white or any other flower color if it is rich in nectar.

My five favorite, long-flowering hummingbird plants that thrive in the Portland area are Cape fuchsia (Phygelius), hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia), flowering maple (Abutilon), mint hyssop (Agastache), and salvia (Salvia). These perennial plants flower non-stop from late spring to first frost and sometimes beyond. Yet each is so beautiful that it’s worth growing even if it weren’t a fantastic hummer pit-stop. Plant them and the hummers will come.

Phygelius ‘Moonraker’- sun to pt shade, unfussy about soil
Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ – sun to shade, unfussy about soil
Agastache ‘Apricot Sunrise’- full sun, very well-draining soil
Salvia guaranitica; Salvia greggii ‘Lipstick’ – full sun, well-draining soil
Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Red’ – full sun to pt shade, well-draining soil

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