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Hummingbird Flowers Part 1
May 21, 2018

Another week that flew by.

Appointments, running around, open houses to attend, and still try to plant and do other stuff.

On top of that, the freezer on the new refrigerator/freezer isn't working.

Karen's ice cream and other stuff is in a slow melt.

A repair guy is supposed to show up today, otherwise its a new machine.

The calendar looks much lighter for the next few weeks, (so far).

May continues to bless.

Birds are still in full force, (orioles waiting in line).

Flowering trees have been spectacular.

Lilacs, the intoxicating aroma that permeates the air.

Sophie is a hoot.

This Munchkin kitty is one curious cat.

Down below are pictures of her in the washing machine.

Fur kids, you gotta love em.

This week's letter....

Hummingbird Flowers Part 1


We all adore hummingbirds.

(Hummer at Black and Blue Salvia.)

Putting out some hummingbird feeders filled with a solution of sugar water will get hummingbirds out where you can see them easily (sometimes).

Generally,4 parts water to 1 part sugar.

I fluctuate this formula with the seasons.

Yet, they can’t live on sugar alone.

Hummingbirds need protein, fats, carbohydrates and minerals, just like all animals.

They can get everything they need from plants that you grow in your garden and the insects that feed on those plants.

Hummers are attracted to many flowers and colors, red, orange, yellow, purple, etc. (note picture above).

Yet red is the magic color.

Red, tubular flowers will attract the tiny, overworked hummingbird.

Grow any plant with long red flowers and you will get hummingbirds in your garden.

Grow a sea of red and you are almost sure to attract hummers.

For that matter, ruby-throated hummingbirds will investigate anything red.

(Hummer at Hyssop.)

You can prove this easily enough by wearing a bright red shirt and standing still in your garden on a sunny day with good hummingbird activity.

The birds will come close enough to prove to themselves that you aren’t the mother of all nectar sources.

This is also a good time to hang on to a hummer feeder and see if they buzz you and feed.

Flowers are where it is really at however, and here is a bit of information on what I think are three

very needed plants for any hummingbird garden.

If I could grow but one plant to attract hummingbirds,it would be salvia or sage.

Red Salvia (Salvia splendens):

An annual commonly used as a bedding plant, you can usually buy trays or flats of red salvia at virtually every garden center and they aren’t particularly expensive.

With time and a place to grow them, it is rather easy to start from seed as well.

Don’t plant just two or three; fill up a bed with red.

A red wave.

No hummingbird will be able to resist this display of red and abundance of nectar rich flowers.

Annuals blooms from spring to killing frost and only get better a the season wears on providing you care for them (deadhead, feed and water).


"Salvia spendens" is a tender tropical perennial that originates in Brazil and is typically grown as a warm weather annual bedding plant.

It has long been a garden standard, reliably blooming over an extended period.

Ever more varieties are being developed, giving a wide range of colors, including white, salmon and purple, as well as the traditional bright red, and heights from about 8 in (20 cm) to more than 3 ft (0.9 m), and taller.

Leaves are bright to dark green, elliptical and toothed.

Flowers grow on spikes and are two-lipped, with a flat lower lip and helmet-shaped upper lip.

I like these plants, not only for their color and attracting hummers, but they are critter resistant too.

Rabbits, deer and even woodchucks leave them alone.

Little if any insect issues.

Slugs do enjoy them, so plan accordingly if you plant in moist or shady conditions.

You will want to plant in average or enriched soil and fertilize as needed.

Over a long season, flowers will drop, leaving a ragged spike.

When this happens, cut the plant back or deadhead, new growth emerges refreshed.

In cooler climates, plant in full sun. In areas with very hot summers, partial shade, especially in the afternoon, reduces stress.

Average to slightly dry, well drained soil.

Larger varieties with deeper roots need less water than dwarf varieties.

This plant continue to grow and improve as the season wears on.

Often it is at its peak when killing frost wipes out my plants.

It will reseed or save a few to plant your own next year.

Scarlet Sage or Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea):

A native, tender perennial of Texas.

Scarlet sage is a sub-shrub perennial in warmer climates and an annual where winter temperatures stay below freezing for more than a few hours at a time.

This sage reaches 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall, with 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) triangular leaves on long petioles (leaf stems) opposite each other on a square stem.

The showy flowers are bright red, about an inch long, and arranged in
loose whorls along the upright stem.

Blooms appear continuously from early summer to first frost.

This species grows wild throughout the dry soils and waste places from South Carolina to Florida and west to Texas and Central America.

Hardy to Z9-10.

It does best in full sun but can tolerate intermittent shade.

Tolerates drought, but flowering suffers without supplemental watering during dry spells.

Plants will reseed.

A can't miss for hummingbirds and even butterflies.

In Northern locations you can look for Texas sage in fine garden centers.

Also pest resistant as is the case with most plants in the mint family.

One last plant for you to look at today.

Autumn sage (Salvia greggii):

A soft, mounding shrub normally 2-3 ft. tall, with small, minty aromatic green leaves that are evergreen in warmer climates.

The flowers are borne on racemes from spring to frost and can be red, pink, purple, orange, or white. Its natural range is from south-central and west Texas south in to Mexico, mostly on rocky slopes.

A popular landscape plant in the Southwest and beyond, Autumn sage is delightful to use as a small, ornamental, flowering shrub in a perennial bed or as a low hedge (grow as an annual in northern climates).

Its aromatic foliage quickens the senses and its flowers are sure to draw hummingbirds.

No wonder Texas has so many hummers :-)

The color of its blossoms in the wild is usually red but varies from area to area.

The color range has been further enhanced by breeding, resulting in many cultivars over the years.

It is disease and insect free and drought tolerant, and once established, should not be fertilized.

A small woody shrub in the south, Autumn sage puts on quite a display throughout the growing season,

including my Michigan gardens where these plants thrive and bloom constantly from spring purchase to late fall.

I think they enjoy the more temperate weather up here and with some extra water, their is no let down for this drought tolerant plant.

I have grown this when I can find it, I tried to winter this plant over with heavy mulch in my Z5 gardens, but will little success.

I think it doesn't like to be cut back for mulching purposes.

Still, it is a must have for me, it is that pretty of a plant.

Zone hardy to Z7/8, but some newer cultivars claim Z6.

This plant can also be found in many fine garden centers in northern regions.

A hummingbird garden must have.

One thing I like about the three plants I mentioned today is this...........

They continue to bloom until the weather gets to cold for them.

With a little attention and added care, you will have flowers in bloom long after the hummers have gone.

Three very attractive plants, not just for hummingbirds, but for you and our gardens as well.

All are tried and true and do very well in northern gardens as well.

A Look At More Hummingbird Flowers.

Before I go, I must reiterate this......................

Just because you have feeders and some red flowers, doesn't always mean lots of hummingbirds.

Species like the Ruby-throated hummingbird are very territorial during mating season and will chase off would

be interlopers or land grabbers.

Hummingbirds also require habitat.

It is up to you to understand your species of hummingbirds and offer habitats the need and prefer.

They need places to perch and rest, do your birds prefer pine and spruce trees?

A woodland setting?

What about thickets or scrub?

A mister will attract hummers in to bathe as well.

Remember, they are wild creatures and will generally prefer natural offerings first.

Well , it is time o fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Learning is the greatest joy.

To learn something is fantastic because

every time you learn something

you become something new".

Leo F. Buscaglia 1924-1998

You aren't the same person you
were just a minute ago.

You are now a new and improved individual.

The same holds true when you accept Jesus into your heart.

You are new and creation.

God's word.

"I will give you a new heart

and put a new spirit in you;

I will remove from you your heart of

stone and give you a heart of flesh".

Ezekiel 36:26

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,

he is a new creation.

The old has passed away;

behold, the new has come".

2 Corinthians 5:17

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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