It's that time of year again when all of us hummingbirders start planning out our garden and choosing the best varieties of flowers to attract hummingbirds. I'm sure many people have their favorite choices based on a wide range of ideas, but I want to give you my list for 2021 based on my own criteria. First, I want to tell you what I base my top selection on.
1. To rate a flower in my top seven, it has to attract hummingbirds consistently.
2. Hummingbirds must prefer these flowers over those that don't fall in the top seven. In other words they will make a special point to seek out particular flowers in and amongst the rest.
3. To rate a flower 5/5 it must attract both the adult and juvenile hummingbirds. Many flowers work extremely well for the juveniles, but the adults will spend very little time in them. In that case they don't get the top rating.
I understand that everyone lives in a different climate and therefore have a different variety of plants that grow well within that climate. Of these plants that I have listed, most of them are grown as an annual, even though they are perennial in much warmer climates.
7. Zinnia, rating 3+. This is a terrific annual that grows up to 3 ft tall. Don't let this three out of five rating fool you into thinking it's not worthy. I consider zinnias one of the greater training flowers for young hummingbirds. They are a large easy target to feed from, without having to solve the entrance to the food.
6. Bluebird Clematis, rating 3+. This is a Hardy zone 2 perennial that produces an abundance of springtime blooms, and oftentimes sporadic blooms in later summer. The mature birds will seek out every flower in springtime, while the young ones will get themselves into real trouble later on in summer, as they try to climb around the vines to get to each and every flower.
5. Vining Nasturtiums, rating 3-4. These flowers can be a hit or miss with young hummingbirds. If they're brave enough to dive deep to find the multiple drips of nectar, they will continue to seek them out. When they locate the precious nectar, they will continue repeatedly to feed from each and every flower.
4. Fuchsia, rating 4-5. These flowers come in many varieties, in which some rate better than others, but all of them are proven winners.
3. Vermillionaire, rating 4-5. These perennials are grown as annuals in many regions. They contain an abundance of red flutes filled with nectar, that once found, will attract both the mature and the juvenile hummingbirds.
2. Salvias, rating 5. These flowers come in so many varieties, so it's very difficult to give a blanket rating across all of them. For the last two seasons I've grown farina blue salvias, and I couldn't be happier with them. I don't know about most regions, but in mine they are problem free, showy, continue flowering throughout the hummingbird season, produce a jewel of nectar in each and everyone of the hundreds of flowers it produces, and best of all it attracts hummingbirds better than just about anything else. It produced so well for me that I've taken cuttings and produced over 30 of them for this coming season. They are absolutely perfect in pots, and if raised off the ground, even better.
1. Delphiniums, hardy zone 2 to 6 perennial, rating 5. Many people know that I grow these flowers by The hundreds, because they produce like nothing else in the garden. They have one advantage over most other flowers in that they grow to heights of 4 to 10 ft. Higher flowers are always top choice for hummingbirds because they have greater security further off the ground. The hummingbirds gravitate towards these clusters in my garden, and will fight furiously over them. If I have any complaints, it would be the delphinium worms that can destroy the buds and blooms before they even open. The damage is usually visual early on, and if you see any signs of curled up buds or black spots within the stem, open them up and get rid of these worms, which will be light green in color. If you catch them early, you will have blooms on heads that can be over 2 ft tall atop the tall green stalks. Because of the height that these grow, it is often times necessary to stake them, and/or plant them against buildings protected from wind.
Those are the top seven, and even though I have a great selection of other plants in the garden, some others could also be included such as Hosta, Honeysuckle(if they bloom at the right time), Scarlet Runners, Bee Balm.... and more.
If you grow some or all of the flowers I've suggested, I promise you, once a hummingbird locates your garden, they WILL make return visits.
Some people only prefer flowers, and as for myself I have an abundance of flowers and feeders, which I find essential. But no matter which way you go, if you choose these flowers, you will be successful!