Gardening is for the birds…Hummingbirds that is!


Ruby-throated hummingbird.  Photo credit: Alex Pawlukiewicz

We’re still in hummingbird season folks!!!  They’re zipping and zooming around my front and back yard as well as the garden center like crazy! Have you seen them?

In Virginia we have three species: Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Allen’s. The one I see the most here in Northern Virginia is the Ruby-throated.

How do you attract hummingbirds to your garden? Do you have a feeder? Grow various plants that are delicious for them? Me, I do a little of both. In my feeder, I’ve used a store bought mix or a pre-made solution before, but making your own is fun and easy. Just bring one part sugar to four parts water to a boil, let cool and fill ’em up! You can store any extra solution in the fridge for a week.


Above is a shot of one of my hummingbird feeders.

While I use my feeders, I also grow lots of flowers that hummingbirds love. Below are just a few of my favorites…


Hamelia patens ‘African’ – African Firebush
Hummingbirds swarm to this plant on the regular! It prefers full to part sun and is drought tolerant. Many varieties of Hamelia are native to Florida, however, I believe this particular one is native to Africa (hence the variety name). I’m growing this in a pot and bringing it inside this year since it is in no way hardy here in Northern Virginia.


Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea – Porterweed

Stachytarpheta mutabilis – Porterweed
I love these guys!! Hummingbirds go nuts for both varieties. Prefers sun to part-sun conditions and blooms all summer long. I saw these growing wild along river banks in Hawaii…I won’t lie, I went a little crazy;-)


Cuphea llavea ‘Totally Tempted’
Hummingbirds totally dig Cuphea…all varieties!

Cuphea ‘David Verity’
Cupheas thrive in full sun to part shade. They can tolerate some drought but perform best with regular moisture. Some trail, some are upright and tall…they come in all shapes and sizes so the perfect one is out there for you!


Lantana camara ‘Samantha’
This variegated lantana might be my favorite variety. Thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant. Both hummingbirds and butterflies love this fragrant flower!


Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Ok, this tender perennial might be one of my absolute favorite plants ever! (I know I say this a lot, but seriously!!). This is the very first plant I ever grew that I saw hummingbirds swarm to…then I was hooked!


Ruella brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ – Mexican Petunia
Another one of my loves! Blooms constantly, but each bloom lasts only for one day. I saw this growing all over Cape Hatteras, N.C. a few weeks ago. It loves the sun and can tolerate salt and some drought, but can be invasive in warmer climates.


Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’
More heat tolerant than most other fuchsia varieties! A great hummingbird attracter that grows well in partial shade. This upright grower is perfect for containers!!


Streptocarpella saxorum
I absolutely cannot get enough of this plant. I grow it every year in a hanging basket. Perfect for shade/part-shade. I bring it inside for the winter – it makes a great house plant too!


Nicotiana alata
This flowering tobacco plant, given to me by a great friend, really did a number for my hummingbirds this year…and for me! It’s nocturnally fragrant and prefers full sun to part-shade. What a super performer!

There are many other great plants that hummingbirds love – these are just some of my favorites that I grew this year. Now I wanna hear about your flowering experiences with our feathered friends!!!

Who were your top performers?

I’m STILL in the process of refreshing my containers and gearing up for fall…you know, getting rid of stuff that was looking straggly and rough and replacing them with some fresh beauties.  There were a number of containers I was so impressed with this year…and of course a few that I wasn’t.  Each year I grow a selection of plants that I know and love.  I also trial a number of plants that either I haven’t grown at all or I pick different varieties of a plant that I’m already familiar with…or of course trying out what’s new for the year.

This year there were about five containers that I absolutely fell in love with and hope to recreate again next year. It’s funny because often times when I put together an awesome combo it’s because I really need to declutter my driveway of all the miscellaneous plants I’ve collected and HAVE to do something with!  Maybe it’s the pressure that does it!

Anyways, these are my top five favorite combos for summer 2013:





Begonia Big Red (Green Leaf), Coleus Kong Salmon Pink, Alternanthera Little Ruby (definitely one of my new fave plants of all time!).  This is a great shade/part sun combo.



Browallia Endless Flirtation (2), Bacopa Snowstorm Blue (2), Plectranthus Mona Lavender (2) (another one of my absolute favorite plants), Summer Wave Torenia Large Silver, Alternanthera Little Ruby.  Another great combo for shade/part sun.




Kimberly Queen Fern, Strobilanthus oliganthus ‘Alba’, Skyflower Yellow, Agastache Deluxe Acapulco Dark Blue.  Sun Lover.




Manihot Esculenta Variegata (another one of my faves, and severely under used), Stained Glass Works Coleus Burgundy Wedding Train, Purslane Rio Scarlet.  Sun loving.







And last but not least, my #1 Fave of the year: Sky Flower Tala Blanco ‘Gold Edge’ (2) (a totally under used annual that I’m in love with), Torenia Moon White, Agastache Deluxe Acapulco Pink, Kent Beauty Oregano (Love), Geranium Mrs. Pollock, Petunia Suncatcher Vintage Rose, Coleus ??? – I’m not sure of the variety on this one!!!.  Sun lover.

So these are the combos I loved so much this year and I’m sure you will too if you try ’em. What combos made YOU feel like a potting genius this year?