When you are choosing flowers for a successful hummingbird garden it's important to choose their favorites, as some produce an abundance of nectar and some don't, but there is something just as critical as planting their favorites, and that is planting in large masses. If you don't have large areas to work with, make sure you plant heavily on the ones that really matter. A single flower in a garden has very little effect on hummingbirds. You may get a single pass, but it'll hardly make a life changing impact on any hummingbird. Plant an island of the same flower and you will have them returning several times.
In my last blog I wrote about working in small spaces, "Bringing the Country to the City", but if you have the space to work with, show off your colors like a neon sign in a desert. Just like you would place hummingbird feeders in various locations around your garden to attract the attention of every potential hummingbird, the same should be done with flowers. The more islands of flowers, the more feeders, the more accessories or water features you use to attract hummingbirds, the larger reason you are giving hummingbirds to want to return to your garden. When you plant in islands, they also become large visible target with the ability to attract birds from longer distances. Think of it in the way you would if you were driving down the freeway and looking for a restaurant to eat. Those fast food signs were made to get your attention, and they work. Likewise, hummingbirds are searching for food in the same manner. Look at your home from the outside of your yard. Where is the most visible location to plant the largest target of flowers and place a feeder?
Just like the saying goes, "we eat with our eyes", the very same thing applies to hummingbirds. Sight is the first sense that triggers hummingbirds. Once we hook them with our good feeders and flower choices, they will be become a long term customer.
Here are some islands of various flowers that always get the attention of our Ruby-throated hummingbirds, and even the occasional Rufous.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.