Ruby-throated hummingbirds, our only nesting
hummingbird species, are most attracted to nectar-rich plants
having bright red or orange blossoms of tubular shape. You will
have to choose your plants carefully - many of the popular,
nonnative landscape plants are unsuitable for nectar-seekers.
Stick with flowering natives as much as possible,
especially trees, shrubs, vines and perennials, which will require
a minimum of care. Annuals, on the other hand, must be replaced
each year. Single-flowered blossoms have more nectar than double
ones, so avoid double-flowered and sterile hybrids.
Hummingbirds feed most comfortably from blossoms
two feet or higher above the ground. They will also visit hanging
potted plants and sugar-water feeders on open patios and porches.
Be sure to consider the best viewing opportunities your windows and
porches afford as you place your hummingbird garden or plants.
Remember, too, that flowering plants nearly always require full
Artificial feeders: use with
The safest, most balanced way to encourage
hummingbirds is to provide their favorite nectaring blossoms in
sunny habitats. But, as most hummer fans know, sugar-water feeders
are usually a sure draw for these birds. If you choose to
supplement the birds' natural diet in this way, protect them from
hazardous, spoiled solutions by observing the following safety
- DO use a feeding solution of four parts water to one part white
granulated sugar - no stronger. Bring water to a full boil,
dissolve in sugar and promptly cool. Refrigerate unused
- DO choose feeders that can be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned
to remove bacteria and fungus molds. Scrub with hot water and
vinegar (no soap) every four or five days.
- DO NOT use honey. It may contain botulism toxins and fungi
fatal to hummingbirds.
- IT IS NOT necessary to use colored solutions when using
red-colored plastic feeders.
- DO NOT use insect sprays to control bees, wasps or ants on
feeders. Vegetable oil applied around the feeder openings and on
the suspending wire should discourage these unwanted visitors. Many
commercially available feeders come equipped with plastic bee
An excellent planting design for a hummingbird
garden follows the wildlife landscaping principle of layered
vegetation. Build a cascade of plant attractants by securing a
trellis to a wall and covering it with trumpet creeper or coral
honeysuckle vines. Or consider a red buckeye (north Florida) or
geiger tree (south Florida) for height at the back of your
hummingbird garden. Add lower shrubs such as coral bean or fire
bush, and then low flowering annuals and perennials closest to the