Hummingbirds are magic in the air!
Their amazing speed and ability to hover while sipping nectar and challenge other birds who are too close will make you stop in your tracks just to watch their antics. Their wings beat so fast it is hard to see the figure-eight pattern that allows them to hover. While sightings on Long Island are sparse in April and May, you should start setting up your hummingbird garden in May to be sure there is plenty of nectar and blooms available our friends arrival.
The male will arrive first, with his brilliant ruby throat, and the female will follow 2 weeks later. It's important to have both annuals and tropical plants so you have blooms throughout the season and perennials are important to offer the most trumpet shaped blooms filled with nectar for these tiny birds.
July and August will provide you with the best viewing opportunities. During these months hummingbirds seek out these blooms because they drink nectar constantly to double their weight in preparation for their migration South in September.
Decker’s Nursery has an array of nectar feeders and clear nectar for easy filling. Keep in mind that you don't need to fill up the container completely because you want to keep it fresh. You should be changing the liquid every couple of days. A shepherd’s hook allows you to hang a feeder, a fuchsia hanging basket and a perch! There's no surprise that these speedy hummers enjoy a spot to rest after feeding.
Flowers for your hummingbird garden
Salvia Guaranitica (Black & Blue Salvia) along with Rocking Fuchsia, Rocking Purple, Wendy’s Wish and Amistad. Pentas, Cleome, Nicotiana. Pineapple Sage, Cuphea, Gomphrena, Golden mounding Lantana, Verbena Bonariensis, Gartenmeister Fuchsia, Cascading fuchsia. Scarlet Emperor Pole Runner bean vine, Spanish Flag/Mina Lobada vine and Ipomoea multifidi/Cardinal Flower vine, Ipomoea quamoclit/Cypress vine all quick growing, prolific bloomers. Decker’s offers pre-planted vine/trellis that will give you a head start! Most of these annuals enjoy sun, however Bonfire Begonia and Fuchsia prefer shade.
Tropical plants such as Pachystachys lutea/Golden Shrimp Plant, Topiary Abutilon, Bougainvillea, Tibouchina, attract hummers and can be overwintered inside
Layer in perennials that bloom each month to have a flow of trumpet shaped blooms, such as Aquilegia canadensis/Columbine, Lobelia/ Red Cardinal Flower most important for breeding Hummers, Monarda/Red Jacob Cline, Crocosmia/Red Lucifer, Agastache/Hyssop, Heuchera/Coral Bells, Penstemon/Beard Tongue, Milkweed, Trumpet Vine, Lonicera/Honeysuckle, Buddleia davidii/Butterfly bush and more!
Patience is key
I started with just a few plants and seeds - it took a year before I spotted my first hummingbird. They are so fascinating that I quickly expanded the plants mixing annuals, tropicals, and perennials to ensure a multitude of blooms. Once your hummingbirds find your garden it is important to keep the plants in the same location the following year as these tiny creatures can remember the exact location of all the flowers they found for nectar during their travels. Each year they arrive to find salvias, runner beans, cuphea and nectar feeders waiting for them. While they should start to migrate in September, I have had hummingbirds stay until first week of October which is why Pineapple Sage is such a wonderful addition to the garden. Starting out in a small herb pot it grows to shrub size with beautiful red blooms on the tip of each branch and leaves with a pineapple scent that brings memories of tropical vacations!
Creating a hummingbird paradise is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable gardens – but make sure you select a location you can see them when you dine as you’ll spot hummers flitting from bloom to bloom at breakfast, lunch & dinner. Have your camera ready!