Attracting hummingbirds to your garden…naturally with flowers

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common hummingbird east of the Mississippi, but a few others, such as the black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds, make occasional visits to South Carolina.

All hummingbirds have a tremendous appetite, consuming more than half their weight in food each day.  To satisfy their high energy requirements, hummingbirds seek out sugar-rich nectar, and, to a lesser extent, insects and spiders.  Their long needlelike bills and especially adapted tongues enable them to reach the nectar deep inside long tubular flowers.

The flowers that are most attractive to hummingbirds are frequently red, orange, or pink.  Favorite vines include trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), and scarlet morning-glory (Ipomoea coccinea).  Hummingbirds are also attacted to cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis), four-o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), and lantana (Lantana camara).  Trees and shrubs such as the red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), bottlebrush. coral bean, and swamp hibiscus are also significant sources of nectar.

Remember that hummingbirds need to feed from March to September, so plan on planting an assortment of plants that will guarantee a continuous supply of flowers from which they can feed.

For more information about attracting hummingbirds and other wildlife to your landscape, visit the SC Wildlife Federation web site (www.scwf.org) and the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center (http://hgic.clemson.edu).

 

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