Birds are amusing critters. I've provided the necessary elements of food, shelter and water to draw them to my Gulf Coast garden because my family and I enjoy watching them immensely. Of all the species that nest and feed in the natural habitat I've created, hummingbirds are unique.
The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common in my Central Florida garden. Yearlong residents of the garden, these voracious feeders possess the ability to fly like helicopters in every direction and suspend their bodies in midair. The rapid movement of the hummingbirds' wings causes the vibration or humming sound they make.
Sometimes we hear hummingbirds before we see them. My family and I are captivated as we watch them dart from the limbs of tall oak trees to garden flowers for nectar and then disappear as quickly into the shrubs. They are charming creatures that require large amounts of energy-rich nectar to support their rapid activity.
Instead of supplying artificial feeders filled with sugar water that provide little nourishment, I plant my garden to attract hummingbirds. I've included a variety of bright, tubular-shape flowers grouped throughout. It is said that hummingbirds favor red and orange flowers, so I've planted a plentiful supply of these to serve up their mostly liquid diet.
With their needlelike bills and tongues, hummingbirds reach deeply into tubular-shape flowers and lick nectar from firebush (Hamelia patens), firespike (Odontonema stricta), scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and pentas (Pentas lanceolata).
In addition to feeding on red and orange flowers, these tiny birds with enormous appetites also frequent blue flowers such as Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue', African lily (Agapanthus orientalis) and Salvia 'Mystic Spires'. Hummingbirds are known to feed every 10 to 15 minutes beginning at dawn. At dusk they eat as much as they can to store up for the long night.
Which plants in your garden attract hummingbirds?