Container Plants That Attract Hummingbirds

Container Plants That Attract Hummingbirds

Part of Ep. 1804 Hummingbird Gardens

Bring hummingbirds to a deck or porch by creating containers with bird-attracting flowers. Jan Wos from Mayflower Greenhouse shares his experience and recommends a few plants, such as Cuphea cigar, various Salvia plants, hibiscus, Gartenmeister fuschia, "Angel Earrings," "Bellfire" begonia, Vinca "Illumination" and others. Learn the basics of caring for container gardens as well.Bring hummingbirds to a deck or porch by creating containers with bird-attracting flowers. Jan Wos from Mayflower Greenhouse shares his experience and recommends a few plants, such as Cuphea cigar, various Salvia plants, hibiscus, Gartenmeister fuschia, "Angel Earrings," "Bellfire" begonia, Vinca "Illumination" and others. Learn the basics of caring for container gardens as well.

Premiere date: Jun 30, 2010

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
One of the greatest rewards of gardening is watching the hummingbirds enjoy my garden. I'm in Hobart, Wisconsin in Mayflower Greenhouse, with Jan Wos. We're going to talk about hummingbirds.

Jan Wos:
Of course, hummingbirds and plants.

Shelley:
Plants, right.

Jan:
They go together really quite well, especially if you know what plants attract hummingbirds.  

Shelley:
That's the goal here, is to maybe put some containers together of annuals, but things that we can get closer to where we're sitting so we can watch the hummingbirds and enjoy it.  

Jan:
Yes, it would be good to place the container that you created in a kind of secluded area on your deck away from the cats, dogs, human children. Get yourself your favorite beverage, and enjoy.  

Shelley:
So it's okay for us to be nearby.

Jan:
Yes, you can get as close to them as three or four feet. This is what happens in the greenhouse quite often especially on quiet evenings, warm, quiet evenings.

Shelley:
They come in here?

Jan:
Yes, we have open roofs. Of course, having so many plants, they are not stupid. Mother nature is quite smart. Anyway, here is the Cuphea cigar plant that is really, really mega-attracting. First, it's very orange and this is the color that attracts.

Shelley:
So, it's color.  

Jan:
Color, because they don't have a sense of smell.

Shelley:
Really?

Jan:
And of course, nectar. Those are the things that attract hummingbirds.

Shelley:
So bright colors.  

Jan:
Yes, this old-fashioned salvia works, does wonders. This is another variety of salvia, and a hibiscus. Look at this beautiful Browallia. It's kind of dark, but it does attract hummingbirds. This is newer variety of Salvia, "Patio." And with their small beaks they go just inside and they enjoy a lot of nectar.

Shelley:
So you've picked plants that are colorful, but that are good nectar producers. These are recommended.

Jan:
Of course, there is one really very important thing that you must remember. Never spray any chemicals on those plants.

Shelley:
Good point, this is their food.

Jan:
Yes, this is their food.

Shelley:
We don't want to kill them or poison them.

Jan:
You would not enjoy it, either.

Shelley:
And that one is full sun.

Jan:
This is full sun. We created this one for shade, semi-shade. Gartenmeister fuschia is a blooming machine. She will bloom in the full sun, as well. That would be even better, because the sun works as a growth regulator and keeps it a little bit shorter and more compact. We use this and also "Fun Times" pink variety with tubular flowers.

Shelley:
And hummingbirds seem to like the tubular flowers.

Jan:
Absolutely, that's why they have those long beaks. We finish it off with an "Angel Earrings" group of the varieties, and they look like little earrings.

Shelley:
They do, I'd wear those!

Jan:
Yes, and this we created for shade. Another things that is quite new on the market to last year, I believe, it's a begonia "Bellfire."

Shelley:
That's a begonia?

Jan:
Yes, orange, and tubular again. And a good nectar producer, so this is what you need.

Shelley:
So this is hummingbird heaven.

Jan:
Absolutely, and this is created for shade.

Shelley:
Let's talk a little bit about maintenance cutting, pruning.

Jan:
It depends who is looking at this. For me, it's kind of getting out of hand and needs some attention. It's basically too top-heavy.

Shelley:
For the container?

Jan:
And you want to cut it down a little bit. When you are cutting down your plants, do not do crew cut.

Shelley:
Don't take the shears and go snip, snip.

Jan:
Exactly, because you want to enjoy the flowers and you want hummingbirds to enjoy their food, as well. So what you do is, I would probably at this point just cut, for instance, this down a little bit. I would tame this down a little bit. You can chop this, as well.

Shelley:
You're cutting just above the leaf nodes.

Jan:
That's a very good point. Doing it, remember, it has to go outside it.

Shelley:
You want to cut above a leaf node when the next leaf is going that way.

Jan:
Outside, yes. Because if you cut above the leaf node that goes inside, you will make your pot very crowded.

Shelley:
So it's all going back this way.

Jan:
Yes, exactly, you want it to spread.  

Shelley:
And kind of branch out.

Jan:
Exactly, better growing conditions for the plants healthier environment.

Shelley:
So it's going to recover quicker, too.

Jan:
But as I said, don't give a crew cut immediately just gently take your time, two weeks.

Shelley:
Do one or two at a time.

Jan:
Yes. Of course, a very important thing is watering. Directly to the water, don't be on a schedule. That is, "Wednesday is time to water."

Shelley:
Because if Tuesday was a really hot day it would be too late.

Jan:
Plants basically will show you when it's time for them to have a drink.

Shelley:
If this whole thing is going down.

Jan:
They'll start kind of wilting and drooping a little bit, that would be time to water. Directly to the soil, preferably in the morning. This way, you will avoid snails, slugs, powder and mildews, all those good things that come with high humidity and moisture.

Shelley:
When in doubt, poke your finger in there and if the soil is dry, water it.

Jan:
Absolutely. But when you water it, you have to mean business. Don't use a fire hose, do it gently, but really soak your plants well.

Shelley:
Right, don't do this little, gentle half a cup.

Jan:
And no misting! No misting, please.

Shelley:
All right, we've saved my favorite for the last. This is stunning.

Jan:
This is created a little bit for the people as well as for the hummingbirds.

Shelley:
I'm no hummingbird and I love it!

Jan:
This one later will bloom, Vinca "Illumination." It will have beautiful blue flowers that will attract hummingbirds, as well. And this ribbon grass, it's just basically for us because of nice contrast. Look at this beautiful Salvia again. This is "Black and Blue" Salvia guaranitica. The main plant, Iochroma, also a blooming machine. And look at the amount of clusters. Look how many are coming up.

Shelley:
And that's coming from the tall stalk?

Jan:
Yes, and look what's going to be right here. All those little new shoots, at one point will have clusters like that, so this is going to be heaven.

Shelley:
Absolutely!

Jan:
Nicotiana langsdorffii is very quiet, chartreuse plants.

Shelley:
The hummingbirds are going to see this?

Jan:
Maybe by themselves, they wouldn't, but with this creation--

Shelley:
They're going to be here.

Jan:
Of course, we cannot forget about "Painted Tongue," especially this variety that is really, really very bright and very loud in color. Also, we used snapdragon.

Shelley:
A good nectar plant, I know that.

Jan:
Very much so. Look at this quiet beauty, Tweedia. Later, you might have to kind of trim it down but remember, above the node that goes outside.

Shelley:
Okay.

Jan:
And of course, Lobelia, an unassuming small flower, but so many of them that they do the trick.

Shelley:
Jan, this is fantastic. I don't know who's going to have more fun, the hummingbirds or me. Thank you so much.

Jan:
Thank you.

Shelley:
Hummingbirds have got to be part magic! They build their nests out of spider silk. Their eggs are the size of jellybeans yet they're strong enough to fly all the way to Mexico. Sounds like magic to me. For more information about gardening with hummingbirds check out our Web site at: wpt.org/garden I'm Shelley Ryan. Thanks for watching. I'll see you again next time on the Wisconsin Gardener.

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