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Old 04-12-2010, 02:23 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Piedmont area NJ USA
hummer Plants to attract Hummingbirds

A neighbor would like me to help him choose plants to attract hummingbirds and I could use a few suggestions.
In my own garden I have only seen them late in the season attracted to native honeysuckles, Lonicera sempervirens, and believe it or not Bowman's root, Gillenia trifoliata.
I have tons of native columbine but have never seen any hummers attracted to them. I was thinking maybe that's because the biggest display of those is across the front garden and there is more foot traffic making the hummers more vulnerable lower. The Lonicera sempervirens are in the same area but of course they bloom overhead.
Anyone have success with attracting the hummers early in the season to specific plants? How should I group them and where do I place them to attract the hummmers? How many plants or how big an area do I need?
I'm in northern NJ and would like to keep the plants native to my area.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:12 AM   #2
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Location: pennsylvania,usa

I can't think of any early season plants for hummingbirds, but in summer here, they're all over the cardinal flowers, Lobelia cardinalis.
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:37 PM   #3
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I'm sure there are more, but my brain is tired...all I can think of right now is Silene sp.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:05 PM   #4
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Location: Chicago Illinois USA

Will-o-wisp, like early bees early hummingbirds use flowering trees and shrubs like red buckeye and azalea. I don't think red buckeye is native to your area but there are azalea to check out.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:42 PM   #5
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Location: New Jersey

I haven't succeeded in finding anything yet. I was about to try Columbine again after seeing it die in my yard twice. I've seen a total of about 3 hummingbirds over the course of 10 years on a non-native plant, Pseudocydonia sinensis (Flowering Quince) which is pretty this time of year. The UConn DB doesn't show it as invasive, but I haven't done a careful search for that. Flowering Quince has sharp thorns which make it a bit of a nuisance to prune. I have seeing bees at its flowers this time of year which I consider a plus.

If there is such a thing as early flowering Hostas, that might be another non-native possiblity. I've seen hummingbirds using flowers on those.

Last edited by loris; 04-13-2010 at 06:43 PM. Reason: be consistent in case
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:57 PM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2010

A website listed the top 10 native hummingbird plants, all of which if I'm not mistaken are found in your area.
#1: Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans
#2: Beebalm or Oswego Tea, Monarda didyma
#3: Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens
#4: Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
#5: Spotted Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
#6: Red Columbine, Aquilegia canadense
#7: Canada Lily, Lilium canadense
#8: Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica
#9: Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia
#10: Mountain Rosebay or Catawba Rhododendron, Rhododendron catawbiense
Other native hummingbird plants:
Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata
here's the link: http://www.rubythroat.org/PlantsNativeTopTen.html
Red Buckeyes bloom pretty early in the season, I believe. I've seen them really go after the beebalm in my yard. Hope this helps some!
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:06 PM   #7
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Location: Fairfield Township, Ohio

In my yard, they visit trumpet honeysuckle and cardinal flower - but fight over scarlet beebalm, Monarda didyma. I have the cultivar 'Jacob Cline'.
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2008

Monarda!!! They love my Monarda. Strange but I saw a few hummers zinging around my Amsonia too and I don't remember finding any references to that plant being a hummer magnet.
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Old 04-15-2010, 06:14 PM   #9
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Location: Chicago Illinois USA

Our films indicate that flexible pedicels may be a general mechanism for hummingbird-flower pollination. When a hummingbird feeds at a jewelweed flower, each lick of the tongue into the curved nectar spur of the flower pushes the flower back, and then the spring-like pedicel pulls the flower forward, smearing pollen on the upper bill of the bird


Video clip of hummer at jewelweed showing the dip of the flower on springlike pedicel.

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Old 04-15-2010, 07:04 PM   #10
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Location: New Jersey


You're right that they love Monarda, but at least for Monarda didyma (bee-balm) I don't think it'll bloom early enough for will-o-wisp's purpose. I looked it up on wildflower.org and they confirmed that in its native range it flowers mid-summer. I'm a bit further north and love watching the hummers at the bee-balm but have also been looking for something other than a feeder to use earlier. I don't get hummingbirds until summer.

One early blooming plant I've seen on lists is Dicentra eximia (turkey corn), but I've never seen a hummingbird use mine. Maybe they'd used them if I massed them more.

-- Lori
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