Mid April I checked my Gardening Calendar. Most of my perennials were coming up by then. Those that weren’t would be breaking ground by the end of the month. Little in the way of blooming was happening yet. The garden centers were just barely beginning to stock their shelves with early color. Still, there it was ... marked clearly on April 24th. The date that I had hung the hummer feeders last year. I hadn’t seen any activity yet but knew “if I feed them they will come.”
After replenishing my sugar supply and filling the measuring cup to the correct proportions (1 cup sugar to 4 cups water), I was soon waiting for the contents of the pan to boil. I like to double the recipe as it provides enough nectar to fill my two feeders three times. This time of year one filling of 10 ounces will last approximately a week. As the temperatures rise, the feeders need cleaning and refilling every few days as the little guys will NOT eat from a moldy feeder. The best sign that has occurred is if the nectar has turned cloudy. As business picks up at the feeders, I fill them with more nectar which necessitates more frequent preparations. Hanging the feeder in a shaded area will sometimes lengthen the time between cleaning and refillings. Each batch will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Ready made nectar is available for purchase and is usually tinted in red (the favored color for hummers) but I’ve had no problem attracting them with the clear home-made version.
Within minutes of hanging the feeders I caught a glimpse of the first hummer, a little male. He was full grown and looked quite dapper in his shimmering green cap banded in black and sporting a lovely red ascot at his neck. After indulging at the pergola feeder, he was off to the Island Bed where the only plants sporting any red were the new shoots on the rose bush and the multitude of crimson heart-shaped leaves of the Burgundy Heart Redbud. I chuckled as I watched him flit from leaf to leaf and then hover mid-air as if to wonder why something that had so much lovely red color offered not a drop of nectar.
There are many garden plantings that will encourage hummers to your yard even if you have no feeders. It is not necessary that they are all in the color red, although a few here and there do help to catch their eye in flight and draw them in. Red roses and geraniums work well for that. Hummers enjoy feeding from any of the following plantings in any color: petunias and their smaller cousins calibracoas, sedum, salvia, hosta,pentas, sage, daylily and liatris. They are particularly drawn to plants with trumpet shaped flowers. Butterflies also are drawn to some of the aforementioned plantings.
Soon, there will be an endless buffet of blooms in my beds for my little friends to partake of. In the meantime though, I will be their “chief cook and bottle washer”. It’s a small sacrifice on my part for the joy they bring to me.
Think about hanging your own feeder(s) and planting a few hummer favored plantings. Then grab a cozy chair and something to sip on (and maybe a camera) and enjoy your own tiny visitors this year.