Sercee
Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:27 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Zone 3

I want to attract Hummingbirds to my garden

Hi everyone!

I'm new here (first post, YAY!) and I have lots of questions, so I'll start here, I guess :)

I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and the spring thaw is nearly here. I'll be fixing up the garden right away and getting it ready to start (re)planting. This will be only my second season with a garden, so I really am new at this.

I was wondering what kind of flowers (preferably but not limited to perennials) I should plant to get the hummingbirds to come back? It's Zone 3 here (I think) and the previously tenant of this place had a hummingbird feeder out so I assume they came around before.

Thanks for your help!
Sercee

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Hi Sercee,

Welcome to The Helpful Gardener! Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, so red flowers or flowers with red or a red 'eye' will attract them. I know of one woman who tied red ribbons all over her garden to get the hummingbirds to come to her garden. The are also attracted to purple flowers as well. They have long bills so they prefer flowers shaped like trumpets. I can think of many plants, but your hardiness zone will be limiting. Here's some that are hardy to zone 3. You don't say what the sun conditions are so I'm giving you a mix of plants that like sun (6 hours or more), part sun (4 to 6 hours), part shade (2 to 4 hours) and shade (2 hours or less of sun).

Columbine has several cultivars, but the most common one seen in the wild is the native Aquilegia canadensis and it's a red and yellow flower, sometimes called granny's bonnet. It's a short lived perennial but seeds around the garden and isn't invasive. I love mine when it appears in places I'd never thought to plant it. It's easy to pull out where you don't want it and the leaves are distinctive when the little plants emerge. They remind me of curly parsley. Let the seed heads dry on the plant and harvest the pods as soon as they open. Scatter the seeds where you want them so you'll always have some. Don't purchase the double hybrids as the hummers can't get to the nectar and they don't produce as much. These will grow in sun, part sun and part shade.
https://www.northcreeknurseries.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.plantDetail/plant_id/133/index.htm

For shade:
Lobelia cardinalis is a native they love. It does well in part sun to shade.
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=D940

Heuchera - coral bells - native clump forming for part sun to part shade. Most are rated to zone 4, but some sites I've looked at say zone 3. Many with pretty leaves. Try and select ones with pink or red flowers. Actually after looking at the site below, try and select one! If you see ones you like at this site and want to see the color of the flowers, go to google and put in the botanical name and click on 'Images'. You might get some pics with it in flower. Example of how to put in the botanical name:
Heuchera 'Lime Rickey'
https://www.terranovanurseries.com/wholesale/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=346

You will also see Heucherella at the Terranova site. It's a cross between two natives - Heuchera (coral bells) and Tiarella (foam flower). It's sterile and dosen't produce seeds and doesn't do well in less then pampered conditions. So don't even bother with them.

There are some native Tiarella - foam flower that bloom in pink. Some have pretty colored leaves. They like part shade to shade.
Tiarella 'Pink Brushes'
https://www.bobna.com/plantlist/tiarellapinkbrushes.asp

Tiarella 'Pink Pearls'
https://www.bobna.com/plantlist/tiarellapinkpearls.asp

Lilium canadense - Canada Lily is a native woodland bulb. These get tall and the bulbs can get expensive if you will be moving and leaving them behind. You can buy seed but it can take 5 years before they will bloom from seed. They come in shades of oranges and some sites list them as only hardy to zone 4.
https://www.rubythroat.org/LilyCanadaMain.html

Impatiens capensis - Jewelweed is an orange flower and can seed around the garden.
https://www.rubythroat.org/JewelweedSpottedMain.html

For sun:
There are several cultivars of the taller Penstemon - beardtongue, but not all are hardy in your zone. Here's more info on Penstemons. Btw, Penstemon 'Husker Red' has red stems and white flowers. Not what you'd expect.
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=G590
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=I620
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=I630
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=A127
https://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/%7Eawolfe/Penstemon/Penstemon.html

Phlox paniculatta - tall garden phlox will also attract them and is fragrant. You'll need to plant reds, pinks and/or purples. Here's a few examples. These also tend to get powdery mildew, so choose carefully. This first one Phlox 'David' is white, is the most mildew resistant and is listed as a hummer attractor. I grow this in my garden and have never seen hummers go to it. There is a lavender sport of 'David' too. It's the second link.
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=L610
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=C498
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=F820
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=E380
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=G990
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=D110

Monarda - bee balm is another native that will take full sun to part shade. There are several varieties of these natives and they come in different colors. It's a member of the mint family (they have square stems) and like mints, they spread, so give them plenty of room when you plant them. Not all are hardy in your zone. This is the only one I can find that will grow in zone 3.

Monarda fistulosa - wild bergamot
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=G560

Salvia will be good for them and there are annuals and perennials, but I can only find the perennials that are hardy to zone 4. If you find any that are hardy in your area give them a try. They usually come in reds and purples.

Lonicera sempervirens is a native honeysuckle that won't take over the world and smother trees in the environment like the Japanese honeysuckle does. I have two and the hummers love my Lonicera sempervirens 'Blanche Sandman' better then the yellow Lonicera sempervirens 'John Clayton'. Native honeysuckle is great for hummingbirds but I'm not finding any hardy farther north then zone 4. Most repeat bloom all season.
Lonicera sempervirens 'Blanche Sandman'
https://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=B934
https://oakmediacreations.com/myg/plants/closeup.mv?PlantID=000116


If you decide to mail order plants or if you just want to search for nurseries near you (you can search by country), keep this site for references of nurseries with good a reputation. You can even search by plant material.
https://davesgarden.com/gwd/

Here's my favorite hummer feeder. I prefer this one because it's the easiest to clean and refill. I find the 8oz feeder is large enough in my climate. In the hottest days of summer I have to clean and refill it every 2 to 3 days. My yard is very small and I don't' get that many hummers. I also grow plants that feed them so they don't rely as much on the feeders. I usually make a large batch and freeze it in small baggies that I label so I don't have to cook up a bunch every couple of days.
https://www.aspectsinc.com/2_Hummingbird.htm

Save this site so you can track the progress of the spring migration. In my area the hummers usually arrive around April 10th. I put my feeders out on April 1st. These maps are for Spring 2007 and are for the eastern US and Canada. For the western US there are links at the bottom.
https://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

Lots of helpful info here about hummers and migration. The last one is migration by state, with Canada at the bottom.
https://www.hummingbirds.net/
https://www.learner.org/jnorth/unpave/hummer.html
https://www.rubythroat.org/
https://www.hummingbirdworld.com/h/migrate.htm#by-state

Newt

Sercee
Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:27 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Zone 3

Wow! I knew I was going to get help, but this is awesome!

Well, it looks like I'm on my way to getting them here, then. I already have a patch of columbine (3 strains!) and my mother in law gave me some Salvia that thrived last year, so either I did something right or it happened to be the kind that does okay here. As to the rest, those are some beautiful suggestions! I've found several in that list that are going to make it into this year's planting, both for the Hummingbirds and because they're just so gorgeous!

Thank you very much for those links to the bird sites as well. They're quite useful, and now that the weather is definately warming up I can start preparing for them!

Thanks again, and I'll see if I'm lucky enough to get a picture of one this year!

Sercee

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

Sercee, you are so very welcome! Can you tell I love the hummers and gardening? :D Great to hear about the salvia too. When you're ready to find some shrubs to feed the birds over the winter, just lmk. :twisted: If you are renting maybe you will be able to id some and you could propagate them by taking cuttings. Another possibility would be to approach the landlord to see if they will purchase the shrubs and compost and you do the planting. That way the landlord gets their property improved, the birds get fed and sheltered and you get the pest control and entertainment of watching in the winter when there is little activity in the garden. :idea: It will be fun to search for shrubs in your zone. At least I think it will. :?

Newt

Sercee
Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:27 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Zone 3

Unfortunately I've already tried to get my landlord to pitch on yard-improvement ideas.... no go. They love it when the tenants do it but they aren't willing to help. But since I'm planning to be here until I buy a house (likely another 3 years or so) I might just do it anyway, then the next guys will have something nice, too.

I'll definately let you know. What time of year is best to start getting into shrubs?

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

In your zone shrub planting should probably be in spring so the roots have time to establish before the ground freezes again.

Btw, you might want to consider saving the nursery pots for when you do finally move. You can use this yard and garden as a place to learn, but take some of the plants, or divisions of plants with you when you move. We renovated the entire back and side yards due to flooding issues and I had to dig up every plant I had. I potted up 500 plants, kept them under a tree in the front yard for the spring, summer and fall. By the time the renovations were finished I had run out of time to plant everything. I put the pots for shade on top of the shady garden soil of the beds, the sunny ones on top of the sunny garden soil of the sunny beds and covered them all with old sheets and blankets. I was still sinking pots into the ground in January. The ground was frozen solid everywhere but under the sheets and blankets. I just buried the pots up to their rims for the winter. In the spring I pulled the pots and planted. I only lost about 10 plants.

Newt

Sercee
Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:27 pm
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Zone 3

Only 10 plants, lucky! :)

I make a point of keeping my pots. Like a lot of things I do I never know when they might come in handy... I'm glad I have a large basement! LOL

Thanks for the advice. When I hit the greenhouses in a few weeks I'll look around and see what's available and makes sense for shrubs.

Newt
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1868
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 2:44 am
Location: Maryland zone 7

While you're shopping, take a pad and pen and take notes and names! You can always ask for something to be held if it's a reputable nursery. Then you can research it on the computer before you purchase. Sometimes the tags don't tell the whole story about mature size. :)

Newt

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