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Gardening How-to Articles

Designing A Hummingbird Garden: 15 Ways to Keep Them Coming

Stephen W. Kress is director of the National Audubon Society's Seabird Restoration Program and manager of the Society's Maine coast seabird sanctuaries. He teaches field ornithology at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, where he is a research associate. He is author of The Audubon Society Bird Garden, The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds, the Golden Guide Bird Life and other publications on birds and their management.

    Discussion

  • BBG Staff May 5, 2016

    Here are a few tube-flowered genera to draw hummers: Agastache, Aquilegia, Campsis (C. radicans), Penstemon, Salvia, Hosta, and native Lonicera species and cultivars.

  • Nicole April 8, 2016

    I’m 30 minutes outside St. Louis, in East Alton, Illinois. We already have three hummingbirds that visit our feeders and I’m creating a hummingbird garden very soon. I’m wondering if you can help me with what tubular flowers are native in my area. I see honeysuckle growing wild but that’s pretty much all I’ve noticed. Thank you so much for such an informative site!

  • BBG Staff March 31, 2015

    Frank: Campsis radicans ‘Flamenco’ derives from a native plant, but the jury is out as to whether or not it can be considered a “native” itself. Although it is not too likely to escape your garden and run rampant through the fields, trumpet vine can be a very robust climber that outgrows its bounds without regular pruning and sucker removal.

  • Frank Nino March 21, 2015

    Thank you for this information. Does the flamenco trumpet vine fall in the category that “invade neighboring fields…”?

  • BBG Library Staff August 12, 2014

    Eldon: We are not clear from your plant list whether or not your garden includes a lot of the tubular red or orange flowers so attractive to hummingbirds, but we are rather sure you do from what’s already on your list.  Placing the plants near to your feeders may also be helpful; your feeders should also have red attractive parts. One issue you may be may facing is predator related—pets, feral cats, raccoons, and birds of prey can discourage hummingbirds. Even bees, wasps, and other insects may be a problem for hummingbirds. That being said, we all know of cases where there are both a lot of pets and a lot of hummingbirds.

    You may wish to contact the agricultural extension service near you for more local expertise as well as the Chicago Botanic Garden. The Audubon Society may also prove to be a useful resource.

  • BBG Staff April 22, 2014

    Georgene: There are a number of native flowers that fit your criteria, including trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). The website of Operation Ruby Throat has a list of native hummingbird plants, many of which have red, tubular blossoms. Most of these plants can be grown in containers, depending on how much sun your space gets and the amount of care you can give them (some, like cardinal flower, require lots of moisture). Considering your size limitations, perhaps vertical is the way to go, with vines like trumpet creeper and trumpet honeysuckle.

  • Georgene April 14, 2014

    Thank you for your helpful info! I have a second-floor patio 12 feet wide and 4 feet deep in suburban Philadelphia. Please suggest specific indigenous flowers that are red and tubular and sweet for hummingbird attraction. Not much room, so I need to maximize opportunity!

  • eldon voorhees February 21, 2014

    I live in the city. For last the eight years the hummingbirds have migrated through. I change my feeders daily and have two small hummingbird gardens, one in front of my house, the other behind it. I grow salvia, agastache, bee balm, cardinal flower…I even bought a hummingbird house online but it never worked out. There were no migrators last spring. My yard is only half a lot big—will turning it into all garden get them to nest nearby?


  • sherry May 30, 2013

    We had four or five little guys last year and had heard they often come back. We enjoyed them so much that we were excited for summer again this year! Sadly we haven’t seen any just yet except for one, and my husband yelled for me and scared it off. We haven’t seen him since. I have all my usual flowers out, and we have a huge tulip poplar that is in bloom, where they nested last year. I wondered if the cooler weather this year has affected migration dates. We live in Versailles, Kentucky. Any advice?

  • A.R.G. (Those are my initials... arg matey!) March 23, 2012

    What is the migrating schedule for Mission Viejo, California? There are two female hummingbirds hanging out in my yard, and possibly building nests in a large flowering tree outside my fence. They are brown with brown streaks. That is kinda obvious though, because they are girls. Any idea of what species they are?  I have a hummingbird feeder in my yard, and one of them tried to use it today, but I was standing under the feeder, and she kinda got scared of me and flew back to her tree. Will she come back?

  • Gardener's Resource Center August 17, 2011

    As early as mid-August, Brooklyn birders may see ruby-throated hummingbirds from more northern summering grounds coming through as they start their southward journey. For more information on these hummers’ migration patterns, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s page at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/id.

  • Kelly August 17, 2011

    Hello,
    What is the migration season for hummingbirds in Brooklyn, N.Y.?

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