There are many who have started their indoor planting, and a few that are lagging behind, but don't be alarmed if you're the latter. One plant that can make a massive impact in hummingbird garden is the Zinnia. They grow relatively fast and will produce the most spectacular flowers.
The fact is that most adults hummingbirds will reject the Zinnia, but young birds are immediately drawn to them because of their size and brilliant colors. The flowers are different from many others in the way that they'll last for incredible lengths of time. Many annuals will produce a flower that only lasts one to five days, but the Zinnia can produce a flower to last well over a month. In fact you will find many flowers that open up in mid July that will last all the way to frost. They cross pollinate all the time so it's nearly impossible to get one consistent color, but they produce a rainbow of the most spectacular jewel and pastel colors. They stand from 18 to 36 inches, and if planted in the right soil, will produce a bush of brilliant flowers, sometimes even different colors on the same plant.
For those that think they've missed the time for indoor planting, the Zinnia is definitely for you. I like to start the seeds indoors one month before transplanting outdoors.
These flowers don't like cold temperatures. They should be started indoors until they germinate. Then place them outdoors to get as much sun and wind right from germination. They will condition properly, developing more leaves and a sturdier stock. Pull them indoors on any day or night that goes below 5C(42F). If they get too cold they will develop a limp stock, but once they get the warm temperatures they will once again stand tall. If you start them indoors and don't allow them natural conditions, they will shock easily when moved outdoors. Don't over water these plants either. A sure sign of over watering are brown tips on the leaves. You may not have flowers at the start of the season, but you will have lots of them at the perfect time, when the young hummingbirds leave the nest.
They can vary in flower sizes, and many will produce a large button while other don't. They are always inconsistent, but beautiful. As I've mentioned before, plant their favorite flowers in large groups. Make it worth their while to keep returning, and also for them to stick around for longer periods of time.
Width: Up to 30"
Germination time: 5-8 days
Days to Maturity from seed: 70-90 days.
Colors: All Jewel and Pastels
Location: They love full sun, and will handle drought conditions.
Hummingbird rating: 3 out of 5
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.