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Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Posted on 31 March 2011

By Danni Duggan for Landscape Network

One of the benefits of cultivating a garden in your yard is the ability to attract wildlife to your property. Sure, you can judge a garden’s relative success by whether or not your vegetable plants produce vegetables, or your fruit trees bear fruit, but another satisfying indicator of success is watching nature stop by and appreciate all your hard work.

Denver is host to numerous species of hummingbirds each year. In the spring, most are passing through on their way to nesting grounds. In the fall, they are making their way to Mexico and Central America. As soon as the winter weather breaks, though, they faithfully return to their Colorado homes to choose territory and attract mates. Your garden can provide them with just the right excitement and nutrition to help them with their long annual journeys.

Hummingbird-Friendly Plants

To provide hummers with a natural sanctuary, consider plantings that will both attract and entice them. Their long, slender beaks and darting tongues are perfectly engineered for finding nectar deep within tubular-shaped flowers such as scarlet gilia, salvia, and honeysuckle. While they are attracted to the color red, they are adept at finding nectar in flowers of any color and shape, so do not feel you need to limit your selection to red, tubular flowers. Other popular options include butterfly bush, columbine, and snapdragon. Keep in mind that having some red options mixed into your garden may catch their eye as they fly overhead, ensuring that they discover your sanctuary. Consider working with a landscape contractor who is intimately familiar with the plants that work best in your soil and gardening zone.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

In addition to plantings that attract hummingbirds, some people choose also to offer them homemade nectar in hummingbird feeders typically trimmed in red. Choosing to offer feeders requires that you are dedicated to cleaning the feeder and changing the nectar every three to four days. The feeder should be cleaned with mild soap and water to ensure that any bacteria build-up caused by the sugar water is destroyed. To make your own nectar, you will need:

• 4 cups of boiling water
• 1 cup of granulated (white) sugar

To ensure a proper 4-to-1 ratio, start out boiling more than four cups of water. You will lose some of this water to steam. Once the water has come to a full rolling boil, measure out 4 cups. Add one cup of white granulated sugar to the 4 cups of water, and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.

Never use any other type of sugar or syrup, and never use sugar substitute. Also avoid food coloring, flavored gelatin, or flavored beverage mixes in your nectar. These additives can cause harm to the hummingbirds. Allow the mixture to cool overnight in the refrigerator. You may choose to freeze a portion of your nectar for future use. Anything that you make without freezing is good for three to four days only.

The food provided in feeders is a wonderful supplement to the hummingbird’s natural diet of flower nectar and insects, including aphids, gnats, and even mosquitoes. Attracting hummingbirds to your garden, whether with homemade nectar or flowering plants, can provide you with an up-close view of these little marvels of nature that easily consume half their body weight in nectar daily.

2 responses to Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

  • deb ervin says:

    very helpful, can’t wait to see if they’ll visit my garden!

  • Ann says:

    Thanks for the information. Just moved to Denver from Las Vegas where we have many hummers in our yard. I do use the home made receipe that you mentioned. Thanks

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