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These Hummingbird Attracting Native Plants May Surprise You

These Hummingbird-Attracting Native Plants May Surprise You

These flowers, vines and shrubs offer shelter and food supplies that keep hummingbirds around longer

Hummingbirds may be North America’s favorite pollinators. Attracting them to your garden is as simple as hanging a sugar-water feeder or planting pink and red tubular flowers that provide nectar. Keeping these birds around means providing food sources throughout the season, plants that provide perches and shelter in inclement weather, nest sites and a good supply of small insects and spiders to feed their growing young.

These 10 native plants will help you turn your yard into a hummingbird haven and also attract plenty of other beneficial wildlife.

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1.Golden Currant

(Ribes aureum)

Native from the Rocky Mountains west to the Coast Ranges, from Saskatchewan to central Washington and south to New Mexico; widely planted from the Great Plains to the East Coast

Golden currant’s sprays of bright yellow flowers appear from March to April, just as hummingbirds are migrating north, providing just-in-time nectar sources for the hovering dynamos. The flowers also attract skipper butterflies and early-emerging native bees. The fleshy berries are a favorite of songbirds. Deer browse the young branches.

Given spring and early-summer moisture, golden currant will form a clump covered with sunny flowers that attract hummingbirds seemingly out of thin air.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (USDA zones 3 to 7; find your zone)
Water requirement: Prefers moist soil; will survive some summer-to-fall drought

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

Mature size: 3 to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide


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2. Salmonberry

(Rubus spectabilis)
Native from British Columbia south to Oregon and east to northern Idaho

Salmonberry, also called salmon raspberry, begins blooming in late March, providing much-needed nectar for early-migrating hummingbirds when few other flowers are blooming. Bumblebees also seek out the flowers. The berries are eaten by chipmunks, songbirds and people.

Although salmonberry’s native range is limited to the moist, cool-summer climate of the Pacific Northwest, give it enriched soil, partial shade and regular water in winter and spring, and this forest understory plant will flourish in any cool-summer, mild-winter climate.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 26.1 degrees Celsius (zones 5 to 9)
Water requirement: Prefers moist soil; will survive some summer-to-fall drought
Light requirement: Full sun to deep shade (more sun equals more flowers)
Mature size: 3 to 9 feet tall and 3 feet wide


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3. Limber Honeysuckle

(Lonicera dioica)
Native from Quebec to northeastern British Columbia, and south and east to Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Carolina

Beginning in May, limber honeysuckle blooms with a profusion of small pink or orange flowers arranged in a whorl at the end of each branch, attracting hummingbirds galore. Bumblebees also visit the flowers for pollen and nectar. The red fruits feed songbirds and small wildlife.

Plant this semierect shrub near a fence, an arbor or an other garden structure where it can twine its way upward, and it will provide nesting habitat and cover for songbirds and hummingbirds.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 37.2 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 7)
Water requirement: Prefers slightly dry to slightly moist soil (needs moister soil in the West’s arid reaches)
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: Climbs to 10 feet and reaches 2 feet wide



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4. Soapweed Yucca

(Yucca glauca)
Native to the Great Plains and foothills of the Rocky Mountains from Alberta, Canada, to northern New Mexico, and east as far as Arkansas

Soapweed yucca’s tall flower stalks open their waxy, bell-shaped blossoms as hummingbird babies begin to hatch in late May and June. The flowers attract a multitude of small insects and provide great foraging for hummingbird females raising young. Yucca flowers are pollinated by the yucca moth (Noctua pronuba), a night-flying moth that lays its eggs in the ovaries of pollinated flowers; its young eat some of the seeds and leave some to sprout new plants.

Plant yucca where its spear-like leaves won’t injure passersby, or use it as a deer fence to protect tender plantings.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 2 to 6)
Water requirement: Drought-tolerant once established
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 3 feet tall and wide, with a flower stalk as tall as 6 feet.


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5. Tree Cholla

(Cylindropuntia imbricata)
Native from southeast Arizona north to southern Colorado and east to western Kansas and West Texas

Beginning in April in the southern parts of its range and in June in the north, tree cholla has spiny branches that burst with clusters of saucer-shaped pink to purple flowers that attract buzzing legions of native bees of different sizes. Hummingbirds zip in to catch small bees to feed their young and to drink nectar from the base of the flowers.

Give these spiny, shrub-sized cactuses a hot spot with well-drained soil, and they’ll give your garden desert flavor and tropical color while in bloom, plus protected nest spots for songbirds. They produce fruits that turn orange in fall.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 26.1 degrees Celsius (zones 5 to 9)
Water requirement: Can tolerate prolonged seasonal drought and winter snow; prefers well-drained soil
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Reaches 8 feet tall and 3 feet or more wide


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6. Showy Milkweed

(Aesclepias speciosa)
Native from western Minnesota to British Columbia and south to California and Texas

Showy milkweed draws hummingbirds in late spring and summer to sip nectar from its balls of starry pink flowers and capture small native bees and crab spiders. Showy milkweed’s flowers are also butterfly magnets, and the plant is a year-round host for monarch butterflies and critical food for their larvae (caterpillars).

Showy milkweed will spread into a drift, attracting both hummingbirds and butterflies all summer. Its knobby seedpods split in fall, releasing drifts of silky seeds into the wind.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 37.2 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 8)
Water requirement: Prefers slightly moist to seasonally flooded soils; prefers sandy-loam to silty soils
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Up to 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide


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7. Rocky Mountain Beeplant

(Cleome serrulata)
Native from North Dakota south to Oklahoma and west to eastern Washington and California, with scattered pockets in the upper Midwest from Ohio and Michigan to Missouri and Minnesota

Hummingbirds zip in to sip nectar from Rocky Mountain beeplant’s spectacular spikes of small pink flowers from July through frost. This annual wildflower is named for its attractiveness to native bees, but butterflies, especially swallowtails, and other pollinators love it too. The seeds are a favorite of house finches, siskins and goldfinches. The green pods can be pickled like capers, to which they’re related.

Sow seeds for this annual in a prairie or xeriscape garden where it can sprout and form a patch of vivid pink. Some people don’t like the skunky smell of the crushed foliage, so plant it away from paths and walkways. Deer avoid this plant.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 8)
Water requirement: Prefers medium to dry soil
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide


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8. Common Sunflower

(Helianthus annuus)
Native from Texas north to Manitoba, Canada, and west to the Pacific Coast; naturalized eastward

When sunflower plants bloom beginning in midsummer, their flower heads face east to catch the warmth of the morning sun and attract more insect pollinators. That orientation also attracts hummingbirds on the hunt for insects and spiders to feed their young. Later, the seeds packed into those flower heads also feed goldfinches and siskins, which crawl over the heads like tiny parrots, prying out the tightly packed seeds with their slender beaks.

Sunflowers are annuals and grow readily from seed. They pack the most punch in groups of three to five plants. Don’t plant the pollenless varieties; they provide no food for the native bees and small beetles that hummingbirds feed on.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 9)
Water requirement: Prefers slightly dry to slightly moist soil
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Up to 6 feet tall (cultivars reach up to 9 feet)


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9. Peachleaf Willow

(Salix amygdaloides)
Native from New York west to Washington state, south to the northern Southwest, the Midwest and the Atlantic states; absent from the Southeast and most of the Southwest

What does peachleaf willow, a tree-sized native willow found in riparian areas across much of the northern half of the United States, offer hummingbirds? Cover, perches, nesting sites and an abundance of insects and spiders to feed hummingbird young, as well as material for building nests. The dense leaf canopy of these fast-growing trees provides shade from the hot sun, thermal cover for cool nights and rain or hail, and food in the form of plentiful insects, from tiny aphids and other leaf-sucking bugs to inchworms and caterpillars, plus spiders. Peachleaf willows are also the larval host for mourning cloak and viceroy butterflies.

Peachleaf willows grow fast and tend to sprout more than one trunk, forming a ball-shaped shade tree. They shed twigs and small branches in windstorms but provide shade in summer and interesting branch architecture in winter.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 7)
Water requirement: Prefers moist to wet soil year-round
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Up to 50 feet tall, with a width that can equal half the height


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10. Blanketflower

(Gaillardia aristata)
Native on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, south to eastern Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Kansas; in Canada, native from British Columbia to Saskatchewan

Named for the blanket-stripe appearance of its ray flowers, blanketflower thrives in poor soils, dry conditions and bright sunshine. This plains and prairie native also attracts pollinators and songbirds galore — and hummingbirds, which patrol its flowers for small insects to feed growing young. Its seed heads are also natural “feeders” for small songbirds in fall and winter.

Blanketflower can be used as a specimen plant in a formal garden or allowed to form a drift that will attract bees and beetles, and then hunting hummingbirds. The hairy foliage and bristly flower heads are deer-resistant.

Where it will grow: Hardy to minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 42 degrees Celsius (zones 2 to 7)
Water requirement: Needs water only in prolonged dry spells once established
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: Up to 2½ feet tall and wide

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/71831614

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