If you are a serious "hummingbirder", then nothing is more important to attracting them to your garden than food choices, and if you haven't already started your plants indoors, it's not too late.
First, I'd like to stress the importance of both flowers and feeders to your garden. In Spring time when the birds first arrive, feeders will be their top priority. They will have spent an enormous amount of time in flight, and having a large never-ending source of feeder nectar is just what's required. They will not be flying to a location where they last fed from flowers, but from feeders. Also, know that all these birds arriving are now mature males and females that know exactly how important a feeder is. As for flowers, hummingbirds will never forget their importance. They grow wild and among gardens all over the country, and they know that food is available at will. But first thing in Spring, feeders are of utmost importance to attracting them to your garden. Where flowers are vital is when the young leave the nest. They will seek out every colored object in your garden, and if you have a multitude of great flowers, the young will stick around while others will be drawn to your garden to eventually figure out your feeders.
Here are some of my youngest Million Bells(Calibrachoa). I start them in early February so they will be just starting to flower when I plant them out after my last frost, around the third week of May. Yes, I am that far north.
These particular seeds, along with Petunias take about 12-16 weeks until they start to flower, but for those that want to plant others that grow quickly, now is the time to plant a few others, including Zinnias, which can be started just 4 weeks before planting outdoors.
Zinnias grow very quickly, and if you bring them indoors for temperatures below 5C(42F), and place them outdoors right after germination for temps over 5C, there will be no need to climatize them. The more mature flowers are, the easier they shock. So if you can get them used to natural sunlight right after germination, they will do best.
Zinnias will cross pollinate all the time, but man do they ever produce some incredible colors. They are quick to grow, which means you will have a load of beautiful large hummingbirds magnets for the time the young will arrive after nesting.
After a few months of caring for the seedlings and transplanting them in the garden, the natural process of rain and sunshine will bring your flowers to fruition. Beautiful, full blooms that are filled with nectar will be screaming for pollination, and then the hummingbirds will do their part.
If you put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded greatly in producing a hummingbird garden. From seed to success, there is no better way to spend a summer.
This young Ruby-throat couldn't get enough of the Vining Nasturtiums in early August, 2017.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.