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Hummingbird Flowers Part II
May 29, 2018

I hope you had a blessed Memorial Day and Weekend.

'Memorial Day', it should be a time to give thanks and memorialize our loved ones and heroes.

Fallen and living.

We visited our parents at the cemeteries.

Instant summer.

We go from rainy and chilly from the low 50's Monday and Tuesday, to the low 90's this past weekend and currant temps.

(A cold and wet Mourning dove sits in one of our trees last Monday.)

In Michigan, we had about two weeks of spring.

A late winter through most of April, now summer.

Not that I'm complaining, but I am.

I want a few more weeks of spring, it is after all my favorite time of the year.

Even the bird activity slows down in the heat and humidity.

Below are a couple pictures of the kids.

13 year old Akita show a bit of friskiness.

It lasted all of 30 seconds.

Where there is a box, you can find one, or both of the cats.

Pictured is Sophie in the box, with Snickers and Keet checking out the situation.

This week is Part II on Hummingbird Flowers.



This plant has followed me around for decades. There are many different species and cultivars of Monarda.

There is sure to be a native species where you live, and all are hummingbird favorites.

Some species are hardy from USDA Zones 2-11, while other maybe 4-9.

Colors range from white, pink, purple, and several shades of red. Monarda (Bee Balm) is a can't miss when it comes to Hummingbird and Native Garden Flowers.

I can almost guarantee hummingbirds when offering up this plant with nectar content as high as 50%.

When planting Monarda, give it some room as many varieties do spread.

Today I am covering M. didyma.


Best grown in rich, medium to wet, moisture-retentive soils in full sun to part shade.

It prefers rich, humusy soils in full sun, although some afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates.

Soil should not be allowed to dry out.

Deadhead flowers to prolong summer bloom.

Grows 2-4 feet tall and a equal spread.

Red flowers bloom from July through August.

Divide clumps every 3-4 years to prevent overcrowding and to control spread of the plant.

Provide plants with good air circulation to help combat fungal leaf diseases.

Did I mention this plant is also deer and rabbit resistant.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

Monarda didyma, known by a number of different common names including bee balm, Oswego tea and bergamot.

A native to eastern North America where it typically occurs in bottom lands, thickets, moist woods and along stream banks from Maine to Minnesota south to Missouri and Georgia.

It is a coarse, clump-forming, member of the mint family that features tubular, two-lipped, bright scarlet-red flowers crowded into dense, globular, terminal flower heads (to 3-4” across), somewhat resembling unkempt mop-heads.

Leaves emit a minty fragrance when bruised or crushed.

Each flower head is subtended by a whorl of showy, red-tinged, leafy bracts.

Long summer bloom extends for about 8 weeks from early/mid-summer to late summer.

Plant foliage declines after bloom, particularly if infected with mildew.

Attractive to bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, particularly when in mass.

Of interest.

Common name of bee balm is in reference to a former use of plant resins to soothe bee stings.

Common name of Oswego tea is in reference to a former use of plants leaves for tea by the Oswego Indians of New York State.


Powdery mildew can be a serious problem, particularly in crowded gardens with poor air circulation.

In addition, if the soil is allowed to dry out, the stressed plants become increasingly susceptible to disease.

Rust can also be a problem.

Look for newer cultivars that are mildew resistant.

Black & Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'):

Bees will visit and butterflies love this plant, however this salvia has proved to be irresistible to hummingbirds.

It has been a hummingbird staple in my garden for years.

'Black & Blue' is one of my favorites for attracting hummers.


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. It should be grown as an annual in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade.

Medium water and a low maintenance plant.

If grown in too much shade, plant stems tend to elongate and fall over.

Plants may be grown from seed started indoors before last spring frost date.

This cultivar however, should be propagated from cuttings.

Set out plants after last frost date. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional bloom.

Plants grown in protected locations with winter mulch may survive mild winters in USDA Zones 5-7.

I do this every year and the crown grows larger each year.

My two clumps (purchase plant and the other from seed), are over 10 year old and growing strong in my Michigan garden.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

'Salvia guaraniticais', is native to Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.

It is a tender perennial or subshrub that exhibits a bushy, somewhat open habit with upright, branching, square, dark green stems typically growing 3-5’ tall.

When grown as an annual, plant height is shorter, more often in the 2.5-3’ area.

Two-lipped, tubular, deep blue flowers (to 2” long) with purple-blue calyxes bloom in axillary and terminal spikes (to 10” long) from mid summer into fall.

Ovate, wrinkled, pointed, lightly-toothed, dark green leaves (2-5” long) are pale green below.

Plants are sometimes commonly called blue anise sage or anise scented sage.

When bruised, the foliage has a very mild aroma that has very little if any anise scent.

Also critter resistant.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to downy and powdery mildew.

Agastache (Hyssop):

(Pronounced Ag-ah-stak-ee)

I really enjoy these plants, once they start to bloom, they continue until cold weather stops growth.

Besides their scented foliage and beautiful flowers, there are additional reasons why I’m attracted to the plants of the genus Agastache.

The plants are also known as either hyssop or hummingbird mints, depending on where you live.

They thrive in tough, dry conditions and aren’t attractive to browsing deer or rabbits (or woodchucks).

Each cultivar and species has a scent all its own, it could be anise, licorice, a fruity smell or something else all together.

The aromatic foliage and flowers are appealing to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and gardeners alike.

Perhaps best of all, they offer color to the garden in mid to late summer and into the fall when many gardens are winding down and getting a bit dull.

They also provide late season flower action for migrating hummingbirds, even in the northern regions like Michigan.


A genus of about 22 species of aromatic perennials (and growing), 21 of which are native to North America.

Most are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

Indeed I have some in my gardens that offer late season color and food sources.

They continue to bloom until the days grow to cool to do so.

So far, most species have not survived the cold of Michigan winters.

I continue to buy plants and plant seeds, because the name hummingbird mint holds true.


These plants form clumps that grow from deep-rooted crowns.

The flowering spikes, which vary in size according to species, are formed at the branch tips and are composed of closely spaced flowers.

Some species can grow to 5 feet.


Grow in a well-drained spot that has been slightly enriched with organic matter and is located in a full sun to partial shade area.

A well drained soil is essential for the life of plants during winter.

They prefer full sun, good air circulation, and lean, dry soil.


Winter mulching with organic matter can result in fungal and bacterial growth.

These plants are highly resistant to browsing animals.

Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle):

A well behaved native vine.

Do not confuse this with the highly invasive introduced species L. japonica.

Japanese Honeysuckle, the blooms are white and very fragrant.

Redundancy, it is very, very invasive.

Coral honeysuckle is a twining or trailing woody vine that is evergreen or tardily deciduous in mild climates.

The smooth leaves are 1-3 in (2.5-7.6 cm) long and arranged opposite each other along the stem.

The last two leaves at the ends of new growth are joined at their bases, cup-like around the stem and the showy flowers are in terminal clusters just beyond.

The flowers are tube shaped, about 2 in (5.1 cm) long, coral red or bright orange on the outside and yellow on the inside.

The fruits are orange red berries, about 0.25 in (0.6 cm) diameter.

Numerous cultivars are available commercially including one with bright yellow flowers.

Coral honeysuckle grows wild in open woodlands, roadsides, fence rows and the edges of clearings, from Connecticut to Nebraska, and south to Texas and Florida.

Prune coral honeysuckle back in the winter to increase flowering.

Don't over-fertilize.

An added bonus .......... songbirds relish the juicy fruits.

This is a spectacular vine that the local wildlife will enjoy as much as you will.


Prefers full sun, but tolerates partial sun.

Drought tolerant, but do best with medium water.


USDA Zone 4 - 10.


From time to time, I experience aphids on bud heads.

Leave the aphids and the hummingbirds will find the protein packed insects.

Do not use insecticides.

Low maintenance.

There are various native Honeysuckle vines, one for your garden too.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea ):

Pronounced (kas-til-EE-ah COE-sin'ee-a or kok-SIN-ee-uh).

I'll stick with the common name.

Native of the Prairies and westward, it grows to 1.5 feet tall and wide.

Best grown in medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun.

(This species is primarily biennial) basal rosette the first year and flowering stalk the second year, with plant death occurring shortly after seed set and with new seed usually germinating in early fall.

Species is also semi-parasitic in that its roots will attach to and absorb some nutrients and water from the roots of certain other plants.

Evidence suggests that paintbrush will perform best in cultivation when grown in combination with one or more of the plants it commonly parasitizes in the wild (e.g., Schizachyrium, Penstemon and/or Sisyrinchium).

Difficult to grow from seed, although plants will reseed in optimum growing conditions, reseeding alone is often not enough to keep plants in the garden unless new plants and/or additional seeding are done each year until a colony is established.


Zone: 4 to 8

Native Range: Western United States

Bloom Time: April - July

Sun: Full sun

Water: Medium

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 1.5 to 2 feet.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

A native which occurs in prairies, rocky glades, moist and open woodlands, thickets and stream banks.

The large, fan-shaped, orange-red "flowers" are actually brightly-colored, three-lobed, leafy bracts which appear at the stem tops in dense spikes and which surround and hide the tiny greenish-yellow true flowers.

Blooms spring to early summer.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Plant foliage disappears in early summer shortly after seed set.

Difficult to establish and keep in a garden, but not impossible.


Perhaps best reserved for naturalizing in native plant gardens, prairies or glades.

The ideal hummingbird garden will offer nature's nectar throughout the seasons as well.

(Notice the hummer sitting on the metal flower, near the hummer bill.)

Many native plants can be purchased from garden catalogs and growers that specialize is native plants.

To have a nice attractive hummingbird garden for the birds as well as for yourself, you will learn plan and plant a variety of nectar rich offerings.

Again, here is a more extensive list of Hummingbird Flowers, do check it out.

Remember to keep your feeders clean and filled as well as offering sources of water and protection.

I'll end this short series on hummingbird plants.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"Some people try to turn back their odometers.

Not me, I want people to know why I look this way.

I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved".

Will Rogers

What else can you say about the quote and the man.

Can you imagine wearing every wrinkle, gray hair, scar or other imperfection as a badge of honor?

Allowing everyone to see the real you the roads traveled?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

"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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