2 years ago, Spring arrived very early. Rufous hummingbirds made it to Alberta just after Mid-April. This year, snow covers most of the Province, with more snow to come. With the ground still frozen, plants will struggle to flower even a month from now. There are positives to a late Spring though. 2 years ago, many of my perennials came up far too early, including my favorite Delphiniums. They flowered far too early, which left slim pickin's for the young hummingbirds leaving the nest in early August. Even though I loved having an early Spring in 2016, it made things a bit difficult for the young hummingbirds before their southern journey. I've never seen a Spring this late in my region, so as long as my perennials survive this long winter, I'm hopeful that my Delphiniums with be in full bloom at just the right time.
This is good reason for planting a great selection of hummingbird plants that grow in succession. If you choose a garden that blooms heavy in Spring, you'll have little choice for young hummingbirds later on. Try and choose some plants for early in the season, and then bloomers shortly after that, and continue that pattern throughout the summer up until the time they leave your region. Here's my sequence of bloomer from start to finish.
EARLY: Bergenias and Bluebird Clematis are early bloomers in my region.
SPRING/SUMMER: Lupines, Siberian Iris, Honeysuckle
SUMMER: Delphiniums, Ligularia, Hostas, Maltese Cross, Veronica. This is the time of year that I have this series of plants coming up thick, and in many areas around my garden. I plan heavily for this time of year for when the young hummingbirds leave the nest and are in desperate search of nectar. My peak time in Alberta is July 23 - August 23.
To compliment the perennials at their different times, I always have a good selection of nectar filled annuals such as, Zinnias, Vining Nasturtiums, Million Bells(Calibrachoa), Petunias, Cosmos and Fuchsias. Annuals continuously bloom, so they have value from Spring through til frost.
Planting in succession will make sure you have variety of hummingbird favorites from the time they arrive to the time they leave. Even if the season is affected like this year will certainly be, your hummingbirds will not be short of options.
This young male Ruby-throat hummingbird spent most of its time in the Delphiniums, but found some value in this Himalayan Balsam. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. August 2017.
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