|Black-chinned male hummingbird May 2017|
A hummingbird usually buzzes by my ears before I can take my hand away from the hook.
Smiles are better than coffee.
|Back yard bermuda grass, April 2014|
We didn't get much bird traffic our first year in this house because the back was mostly weedy bermuda grass, although ringed by trees. Without water and a variety of habitat plants, birds had little reason to visit.
|Terraced beds to cope with slope, a fountain for joy.|
|Female black-chinned hummer on zinnia.|
|Black-chinned hummer (female?) on pineapple sage, May 3, 2015|
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a must for warm-region gardens (zones 8a-11) because it blooms prolifically in early spring and late fall, perfect timing for hummingbird migration when the birds are desperate for food. More good news--the plant is evergreen in mild winters and the leaves make a tasty tea.
|Black-chinned hummingbird on red yucca, May 2017|
|Female black-chinned hummingbird, June 21, 2017|
|Female hummingbird on sweet basil, September 2016.|
|Female hummer on Mexican oregano, June 20, 2017|
Most hummingbird visitors take a turn at the Mexican oregano (Poliomintha bustamanta). The individual flowers are probably not a favorite nectar source but the blooms are so prolific that a bird can sip her fill in a small space. I like it because the blooms brighten our garden from March into November depending on the weather, and the plant is evergreen most winters. Deer don't like it, so the herb is a bonus plant for folks with neighborhood deer. As an aside, we don't eat Mexican oregano since an expert left me this comment: "...at least one species of Poliomintha is known to contain acutely toxic compounds..."
|Female hummer on Shrimp plant, see the orange pollen on her beak?|
|Female hummer on Texas Betony|
Every garden needs hardy low-growing evergreen plants. They soften edges along walkways and beds and disguise stalky bottoms of taller plants behind them. How much better if those plants sport prolific red tubular blooms that hummingbirds like? Texas betony is Texas-tough, a drought-tolerant, deer-resistant evergreen that can also be used as a ground cover.
|Female black-chinned hummer on a native ruellia.|
I'll admit I included this plant, Wild petunia, AKA Prairie petunia, (Ruellia humilis) because I'm fond of this picture. I had ruellia in pots and beds for years and only saw THIS happen one time, AND I had my camera out. But really, how cute is that female black-chinned hummingbird with her beak buried in the well of the purple flower? ... I can't honestly say hummingbirds seek Wild petunia out, so don't plant it unless you want a shady-area groundcover that blooms from May-September, attracts butterflies and is a larval host to buckeye butterflies.
At last count our small garden has more than 20 species of hummingbird plants. Some bloom early, some late and some in the scorch of summer. Vines, groundcovers, bushes, flowers, herbs and succulents. Two are annuals but reseed readily, the rest are perennial.
I haven't taken pictures of hummingbirds on most of them yet...I need to sit outside more, watching the birds and smiling.
Copyright 2009-2017 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.