hummingbird basics and plants for the nw

Hummingbirds! Beautiful and fast, here are a few tips on keeping hummingbirds around and keeping them healthy. Hummingbirds eat out of feeders specially designed for their bills. Their speed and agility requires a high sugar diet.


Sugar Solution:
In a saucepan combine 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water. Bring the mixture to a slow boil for 2 minutes. Let the solution cool completely before pouring it into the feeder. Excess solution will last approximately 4 days in a refrigerator. Do not freeze the solution. Do not substitute. Honey, artificial sweeteners and food dyes have proved to be detrimental to hummingbird’s health.


Clean your feeder with hot water every 3 days in hot weather (above 70 degrees) and every 7 days in cooler weather to prevent fermentation and molds. Hummingbirds are picky eaters and will not feed from dirty feeders or old sugar solutions. Glass bird feeders are not frost resistant. We recommend bringing your glass feeders indoors for winter months.


To deter ants, we recommend petroleum jelly spread on the mounting hook or on the body of the feeder just below the rubber stopper.
If honeybees are a problem, they prefer feeders in sunlight, so move your feeder into the shade. If they persist, distract them with a shallow dish of very sugary water. They usually go for the easily accessible dish, which you can move further away from the feeder each day. If you have more aggressive yellow jackets, it may be best to let them have the feeder for a while and put up another one for hummingbirds in a different location. When shopping for a hummingbird feeder, look for designs with bee guards or other deterring
features. Look for designs which will not leak or drip.

plants to attract hummingbirds

Bright red, orange, or tubular flowers are most effective. Single, over double, flowers tend to be preferred. Plants 18" or taller are a comfortable feeding height. Select a grouping of plants that bloom at different times of the year for best results.



Dicentra spp.
Deciduous, mounding perennials for partial to full shade. Large-flowered bush or low spreading groundcover types. Pendulous heart-shaped pink, red or white flowers. May-June, some varieties in summer. Average to dry soils.

Aquilegia spp. and cultivars
Delicate, trumpet-like flowers in various colors, sizes and heights for sun/partial shade. Interplant between shrubs and other perennials. May-June. Average to dry soils.

Dianthus barbatus
Deliciously fragrant, evergreen plants in red, white and bicolor for sun or partial shade. Good front of the border or edging plant. Excellent for cutting. May-June. Average to dry soils.

Digitalis purpurea and cultivars
Stately clumps of felty foliage, topped by tall spikes of pink, white or yellow blossoms. Self-sows readily in sun or partial shade. May-June. Average to dry soils. All plant parts are poisonous.

Lupinus spp. and hybrids
Old-fashioned favorites in red, brick-red, deep pink and more. Both tall and dwarf types carry dense spikey clusters that are extremely showy. Somewhat disease prone. May-July. Sun or partial shade. Average to moist soils.


Monarda spp. and cultivars
Fragrant foliage with tall stems of curiously whorled flowers in shades of white, pink, red, purple. Mildew resistant varieties. Excellent cut flowers. Sun to partial shade. Average to moist soils. June-Aug.

Asclepias tuberosa
Bright orange, tubular blossoms held in clusters high above foliage. Also attracts butterfy to feed on foliage. Must have excellent winter drainage. July-August. Average to dry soils.

Phygelius x rectus cultivars
South African natives forming bushy clumps with stems of pendulous orange, red, pink or yellow flowers. Spreads to a clump in sun or part shade. Average, moist or dry soils. July-Sept.

Lobelia spp. and cultivars
Stunning spikes of  red, magenta pink, fuchsia purple or blue blooms. Excellent cut.  Sun to partial shade. Average to moist soils. July-Sept.

Heuchera spp. and cultivars
Old fashioned favorite for front of the  border. Scarlet, red or  pink flowers. Good cut. Best in sun or partial shade. Average to dry soils. June-August.

Fuchsia magellanica varieties
Large and small-flowered forms in  various sizes. Striking colors in red, purple and pink. Winter hardy with correct planting and adequate mulch. Partial to full shade. Average to moist soils. July-October. 

Alcea spp. and varieties
Old-fashioned favorites in single or double forms. Red, pink, yellow, black, red and white. Tough, drought tolerant. Prone to rust in NW. Sun to partial shade. May - July.

Penstemon spp. and varieties
Many available with equally attractive properties. Red, pink, burgundy or white flowers over a long period. Tubular shape is highly attractive. Sun to partial shade. Average to dry soils. June-Sept.

Phlox spp. and cultivars
Old fashioned favorite. Tall growers for mid-to-back border. Mildew resistant varieties. Sun to partial shade. Average to moist soils. July-Sept.

Salvia spp. and cultivars
Erect spikes of in varying sizes and colors. Low water use plants for full sun. Average to dry soils. Jun-Oct.