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Planting a Hummingbird Buffet

By: Sandra Nelson

The next two weeks are shaping up to be prime planting time here in the Midwest. They're promising us lots of sunlight, warm temperatures and just enough rain to get things going in the garden. While I will be spending lots of time with my grandkids planting their gardens, one of my own goals this spring is to rework my hummingbird garden. 

flower garden

The past few years I have relied on a few tried and true annuals –  mostly zinnias, salvia, lantanas – to keep my hummers happy and well-fed. They’ve done a great job and I highly recommend them, but I’m ready to branch out and try something new and a bit different from the old stand-bys.

My first thought is to replace some of the annuals with native perennials. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are also essential for the health of our native insects and pollinators. Incorporating natives into the design just seems like a win-win situation to me.

native plants

Most perennials tend to bloom only for a few weeks at a time. To make sure there is a consistent supply of fresh nectar for the birds all season long, I’ll still plant several different kinds of annuals. Instead of the ones I typically reach for in the garden center however, this year I’m also going to experiment with some heirloom varieties I’ve never planted. Some I’ve chosen are ones that grew in my grandparents’ gardens so it will be like a visit to my childhood. 

The last change I’m going to make has to do with space. My backyard is small. I have already turned all but one tiny patch into planting beds so if I want to keep growing more new plants, my only option is to go upward with trellises and arbors. Since hummers appreciate having safe places to perch and rest, vine covered trellises near food and water seems like an ideal spot for my feathered friends to relax for a moment or two. 



I’ve spent quite a bit of time searching for just the right combination of plants to fill my hummingbird garden. To make your search easier, I’ve put together a slide show of 15 plants worth considering. Please Click here to see some options for bringing hummers to your garden. I hope the presentation helps you find exactly the plants you’re looking for.