Ask a Question forum: early blooming for attracting hummingbirds

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Jan 12, 2015 9:25 AM CST
Fairly new to Denton, Tx. This past Spring 2014 had 30-50 early Spring Hummingbird visitors. We were thrilled to see them as 1st year here had only 1-2. Were here for only 2- 2 1/2 wks. when as suddenly they came & just as suddenly they all left except 1- 2 eating at feeders early AM & before nightfall.Trying to get help for Spring 2015. Need ideas for best early blooming small shrubs/ accent trees/perinnels that will keep hummers in our yard until our summer plants are blooming. Foundation plants are welcome also. We are in Zone 8. Have loamy, sandy soil that drains well. On a watering system to keep plants alive in drought. See larger section for plants we do already have. Any suggestions are appreciated as many plants I was use to gardening with in N.C. do not enjoy this Texas, afternoon sun.

This will be our 2 yr. trying to turn our older yard into a Hummingbird/Butterfly Oasis with other birds & wildlife too. While we have been working on our beds as fast as our time & pocketbook will allow. Our 4 Hosta's have not bloomed or grown well for the last 2 yr.s Someone just told me the other week that they do not grow here well in the ground but do well in pots without any need to shelter them from snow or the cold winter's we get sometimes. I have Summer plants I did from seed these last 2 yrs. My husband loves the low Zinnia's for the borders. I planted a few Higher Zinnias also with Cypress Vine & Mexican Sunflowers. This Spring I planted 3 Bright Eyes Phlox that our Butterflies/Ruby-Throated Hummers enjoyed in N.C. We have 2 Emperor Purple Coneflowers & 1 white one ( but I have not seen that much interest in these plants). We have 2 Suncrest Bright Eyes Autumn Sage which has done well this summer & still has a few blooms on it. We had to move our 3 Taller Sage to the Front yard because it did not have enough sun from our neighbors tall trees. The 1st yr. here our Black Knight Buddleia struggled during our 1st summer in the heat and then died after all the snow & Ice we had. I planted 2 smaller Varieties of Buddleia's in pots this year called "Blue Chip" & "Peacock" and both did well & I even got the Hummers/Butterfly's to check them out. Still had to move them out in shade when the Intense Texas Sun started to burn them. I plan to over-winter them in the garage or plant them in a sheltered place in the ground. We also have some Native Sage Bush that has silver leaves but only blooms when it is about to rain or is raining. We have Lantana the yellow one and the pinkish/cream or yellow one. I planted rosemary, dill and parsley and the dill and parsley got either eaten up or bloomed and then died. Something loved to eat our Potato vines this year which was fine with me and also were eating the blooms from our Mexican sunflower petals and zinnia petals only around all the edges leaving the center's intact. We later found a Huge Caterpillar Moth in one of my vases so we guess he was the culprit but he sure was pretty. I planted 4 Pineapple Sage but did not know it did not bloom until October. We did still have 2 Hummers until Oct.13th so they did enjoy these plants & we are enjoying seeing something blooming now in the garden when everything else seems to be in their resting stage now. This Fall about 2 weeks ago we added a Honeysuckle "Major Wheeler" but it is still very small about 4 inches high/with 6 in. spread. Also added a Knipholia Mango Popsicle this Fall. I plan to add a "Campsis Radicans Balboa Sunset next Spring as it was a hummingbird magnet in our N.C. garden. We trimmed it to keep it from getting our of control. But as you can see these plants except for the Honeysuckle Major Wheeler are all summer blooming plants. I have no idea's for our side yard foundation shrubs that are mostly dense shade near the back of the house(I could plant 2 shrubs there) & the front corner could take another shrub but it gets about 1 hr. of afternoon summer sun & all 3 shrubs would get all winter sun after the leaves fall off the trees. The front yard we are planning to redo our foundation plants. One side gets all shade and the other side gets all intense, afternoon Summer Texas Sun. I did not want many plants that are prone to get spider mites as we do have that problem already & I do not spray. But, I do not know which plants would bloom early when the hummers are 1st arriving. Our year has well drained loamy soil but I see a tiny bit of dark soil on top and all sand after digging. We did not hit clay or the Rock bed until you get about 5-6 feet down. Our Zone seems to be 8. Our garden is small. We also plan to buy a Chaste Tree next Spring as a Specimen Tree unless you all tell me not to and plant something that will bloom in the Spring instead. Our backyard heats up to 128 degrees when we have triple-digit numbers in August due to the concrete slab and pool area that takes up a lot of our small backyard. Due to 2 storms and Insurance Coverage we may have some money to change our backyard covered patio area and we may be able to incorporate some Vines that would climb up it. I am also trying to get to the place that I have all Perinnels(spelling?) and do not have to plant all these seeds. Small border plants that come back each year are appreciated too. But, I guess for now just need the plants for early spring........
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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Jan 12, 2015 9:41 AM CST
Welcome! Molly

Sounds like you are on the right track. I'm sorry I do not have good suggestions for you except maybe if you get some red petunias or calibrachoa planters. Do you have any nurseries around you that sell annuals like that?

We don't get the hummers up here until quite a bit later.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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Jan 12, 2015 10:34 AM CST
As I understand it,--- they are attracted to red and oranges.
Then when they get down to the garden they will enjoy any nectar plants.
I had one fly into my window ---attracted by the orange geranium on the inside.
I grow red petunias to bring them into the garden.
Petunia exserta is the hummingbird petunia.
It is red, but apparently it is pollenated by only a certain hummingbird, and not the ones we get here.
Other red petunias will bring them into the garden.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Jan 12, 2015 12:07 PM CST
Here in the eastern part of the US I am always jealous the the variety of hummers in the western half of our country.
I see that Denton, Texas is not far from Dallas - as the hummer flies. Using that information, checking with Wild Birds Unlimited (there is one in Dallas on Lovers Lane Lovey dubby ), they advise the early hummers seek the Coral Honeysuckle, Crossvine, Texas Buckeye and Scarlet Buckeye.

Since you relocated from North Carolina and need to learn about Texas gardening, check with Lady Bird Johnson (can't get more Texas that that) Thumbs up

I'm still jealous, but I'll settle for photos of your hummers. Whistling
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Jan 12, 2015 12:32 PM (+)]
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Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
Garden Photography Region: Pacific Northwest Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Jan 12, 2015 12:13 PM CST
This is a good early bloomer.

Another is this

I didn't see in your profile were you live these thrive in the PNW and I'm zone 7. .
I was heard that if Ribes is seen in your yard by the male hummer he will stay there and the females will follow because of the early food source.
Sempervivum for Sale
[Last edited by springcolor - Jan 12, 2015 12:19 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Jan 12, 2015 8:12 PM CST
During winter to mid Spring in my area, my Kniphofia sarmentosa actively grows and later makes its blooms, and my hummie visitors love them.

Then in summer to fall my tropical milkweed attracts, butterflies, and the hummers as well.

Editing to add some photos:
Hummie with Kniphofia sarmentosa - old photos March 2012
Thumb of 2015-01-15/tarev/85b27f Thumb of 2015-01-15/tarev/413429

Hummie with tropical milkweed: summertime
Thumb of 2015-01-15/tarev/c78a7f Thumb of 2015-01-15/tarev/8efef8

[Last edited by tarev - Jan 15, 2015 11:46 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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Jan 12, 2015 9:42 PM CST
I like the red perennial salvias like 'Hot Lips' for the hummers in early spring. I take cuttings in the fall, and keep them going in a sunny window indoors so that if the plants die back, I have some new starts going that I can plant out in February when the migrating hummers come through here. The migrating ones stay longer in the fall, because there are more flowers for them usually. We don't see too many in the summertime here.

Regarding migration, you may have some migrating through your area, and that might explain why you had a couple, then a whole lot, then just a couple that stayed. Still, if you are on a migration route you will always see many in spring and fall if you maintain the nectar plants for them, but don't be disappointed if many move on again.


"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Feb 25, 2015 10:33 PM CST
I'm from can NOT go wrong planting cuphea....especially the batwing variety and the cigarette as my yard it has been a ten year perennial (undergoing many hard freezes over the years) hummers love them!!! And I have lots of relatives in Denton, a city where I attended Texas Woman's University....great place to raise a family......... Thumbs up And good luck with your hummers..........
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Mar 4, 2015 8:03 AM CST
Molly... that sure was a long post....
I usually don't read those...

Good choice on the coral honeysuckle... It should put on some growth this year... But... fair warning, the deer eat them... But...
the hummingbirds like them...
Thumb of 2015-03-04/stone/db9ca4

I'd plant some columbine...
Thumb of 2015-03-04/stone/c8758a

I could fill this thread with hummingbird pics...
But... Ima hold some back.

The chaste tree is a good choice.... My hummers visit mine, and they're drought tolerant...

Also consider hyacinth beans, dicliptera suberecta, rose of sharon, as well as any other hibiscus... and... tithonia... lantana... and... fill the yard with salvia... Those spreading Salvia microphylla are the bomb...
Yeah, that list is for later... but... summer hummers are fun too...

My list is drought hardy...
Needing to use drinking water on the ground is just wrong...
In Denton TX, you should be able to grow just about anything I can grow in the sand-hills in middle GA.
[Last edited by stone - Mar 4, 2015 8:07 AM (+)]
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