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Natural Awakenings Jacksonville-St. Augustine

A Native Garden for Hummingbirds

Mar 31, 2021 09:31AM ● By Katie Tripp
One of my clients recently requested a garden designed to attract hummingbirds. The ruby-throated hummingbird nests in our region and is observed most frequently. Tubular flowers in warm colors are key to attracting these tiny fliers. Plants that feed hummingbirds have an added benefit of attracting bees and butterflies, too.

Two of our native milkweeds, butterfly and pink swamp milkweed, will provide nectar to hummingbirds and serve as a host plant for monarch, queen and soldier butterflies. Beachside residents should include salt-tolerant Cherokee bean and necklace pod in their landscapes, and these interestingly shaped shrubs can be planted inland as well. If you are looking for an understory tree to add to the landscape, consider red buckeye, whose spring blooming-red flowers are very popular with hummingbirds.

Two of our native vines are attractive to hummingbirds: coral honeysuckle and crossvine. Vines can be grown on a trellis, fence or tree snag. Landscapes with a pond, bog or water garden should include cardinal flower, scarlet hibiscus, and swamp rose mallow for hummingbirds. I created a small bog garden in my backyard, just outside my office window, so I could have cardinal flower in my landscape. Every day for months while the bright-red cardinal flowers were present, hummingbirds would visit the flowers to feed.

The second-most popular hummingbird attractor in my yard is firebush. I also love the many zebra longwing butterflies and gulf fritillary butterflies that nectar on firebush flowers. The flowers of two of our native azaleas, the Florida flame and Florida pinxter, attract hummingbirds, too. In early spring when the azaleas are in bloom, lyreleaf sage appears in my yard, and its pale-purple flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Throughout the year, pink and red tropical sage are available to feed pollinators, and add color to the garden even during winter.

Planting a garden with a particular animal visitor in mind is incredibly rewarding when that species makes its first appearance. It is equally exciting to observe all of the other critters that benefit from landscapes designed with intention. Gardeners have an important role to play in creating and restoring habitat for wildlife, including magnificent hummingbirds. Find nurseries that carry these and other native plants at PlantRealFlorida.org.

Katie Tripp, Ph.D., is the owner of Natural Beauty Native Florida Landscapes, LLC. She created her business to educate Floridians about the importance of utilizing native plants and to help residents create wildlife habitat. Tripp is the current President of the Pawpaw chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and a member of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. Connect with her at 727-504-4740 or [email protected].
 

Native Flowers for Hummingbirds

Common Name                              Scientific Name

Butterfly Milkweed                           Asclepias tuberosa

Cardinal Flower                                Lobelia cardinalis

Cherokee Bean                                Erythrina herbacea

Coral Honeysuckle                          Lonicera sempervirens

Crossvine                                         Bignonia capreolata

Firebush/Compact Firebush
  (not north of Volusia County)        Hamelia patens

Florida Flame Azalea                       Rhododendron austrinum

Florida Pinxter Azalea                     Rhododendron canescens

Lyreleaf Sage                                   Salvia lyrata

Necklace Pod                                  Sophora tomentosa

Red Buckeye                                    Aesculus pavia

Scarlet Hibiscus                               Hibiscus coccineus

Swamp Milkweed                           Asclepias incarnata

Swamp Rose Mallow                      Hibiscus grandiflorus

Tropical Sage – red and pink          Salvia coccinea