These tiny dynamos weighing less than a penny fascinate me. Solitary, iridescent, champion long distance flyers, hummingbirds’ wings flutter in the pattern of an infinity symbol—symbolic of eternity, continuity and infinity. The US has only 16 of the 338 known, species and Florida is home to a mere three, of which the ruby throated hummingbird is by far the most common. We used to have hummingbird feeders by the patio and saw them often, but it’s been several years since I saw one. This summer I’m going to put up a new feeder supplied with the nutrient-rich solution that’s now available rather than sugar water, but I hope the hummers that may be attracted to the feeder will prefer the garden’s natural sources of nectar.
Hummingbirds have no sense of smell so the blossoms that attract them tend to have little or no fragrance. What they seek is abundant nectar often present in brightly colored flowers. Interestingly, cultivated hybrid plants and the so-called “nativar” hybrids of native plants produce less nectar than native plants.
Below are a few Florida native shrubs and flowers they have developed a taste for, and their flowering times as well, because the hummingbird will nest from March to September in its little walnut sized nest hidden away in the shrubbery and will have to feed continually during that time. A mix of shrubs with varying bloom times ensures they’ll never go hungry.
Bottle bush, Blooms Spring-Fall
Coral Bean, blooms in the Spring
Firebush (native variety), blooms Spring-Winter
Red Star Hibiscus, native, blooms mid-Summer-Fall
Wild Azalea, native, blooms Spring-Summer
Cross-Vine, native, blooms Spring
Trumpet Vine, native, blooms Spring-Summer
Coral Honeysuckle, native, blooms Spring-Summer
Butterfly Milkweed, native, Spring-Fall
Red Basil, native, blooms Spring
Cardinal Flower, native, blooms mid-Summer-Fall
Other Hummingbird Attracting Plants
Plants to Attract and Feed Hummingbirds
Trees and Shrubs
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
Scarlet Runner Bean
Trumpet Creeper Flowers
Some may be annuals or perennials depending on climate.
Bee Balm (Monarda)
Firecracker Plant, Cracker plant (Cuphea ignea)
Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)
Lupine (Lupinus diffusis)
Mayflower beardtongue (Penstemon)
Beard Tongue (and other penstemons)
Various Salvia species
“Another way to get hummingbirds' attention is to festoon (be tasteful, now!) your feeder with red or orange surveyor's tape, available in hardware stores. It is thought that hummers are sensitive to ultraviolet light, which these fluorescent tapes reflect in abundance. Regardless, if you hang a feeder, sooner or later a hummingbird will come to investigate; it has been conjectured that, in a given year, not a square meter of the U.S. or southern Canada goes unchecked by hummers in their relentless quest for food.“ Above from hummingbirds.net.
“A flash of harmless lightning, A mist of rainbow dyes, The burnished sunbeams brightening From flower to flower he flies.”
John Tabb, American Poet (1845-1909). Father J.B. Tabb, son of one of Virginia’s oldest families was a blockade runner during the Civil War. He was held in a Union prison camp
For almost a year where he became friends with famed Georgia-born poet Sidney Lanier. After the war Tabb became a Roman Catholic priest and professor of Greek and English. His poems were widely published during his lifetime.