Thirty Days in the Garden: When Hummingbirds Stop By

Anna’s hummingbirds are frequent guests in the garden. They love sipping nectar from the abutilon and the sage, both of which grow in abundance. The purple flowering sage flowers for months.

Anna’s hummingbird
Those small purple flowers are a hummingbird magnet

It’s easy to love a plant that looks good, with a wonderfully subtle scent that attracts beautiful hummingbirds and beneficial bees. By mid summer the bees are scouring the plant for pollen. I like sitting on the garden swing as they work. I prune the shrub for shape once a year and do a bit of trimming over the summer months so we can still use the path.

Salvia in bloom, a hummingbird favorite

The abutilon needs a hard prune once a year, and then they’re off to grow for the season. We have three planted along the fence line in the back garden and another one near the front window.

Ana’s hummingbird taking a sip from the abutilon

The one concerning factor with the abutilon is that if flowers all over. I remove the flowers from the lower branches so the hummingbirds remain high and away from Tessa’s view.

Tessa near the abutilon

With all these inviting plants, you might wonder why we hang hummingbird feeders. The simple answer: for the pure joy of seeing these tiny birds up close near the windows year-round. Hummingbirds need to eat every 15 minutes, so if you keep your feeders clean and full they’ll return again and again. In fact, hummingbirds come to recognize you over time as the keeper of the sugar water. They’ll buzz overhead if the feeder is low, or simply fly toward your face for a brief visit.

Hummingbird at small feeder

They are a delight to behold.

33 thoughts on “Thirty Days in the Garden: When Hummingbirds Stop By

  1. So many little wonders in your garden. They’re really beautiful and how awesome that you get them year round. I tried a few things to keep the ants out of the syrup. I bought a water dam to hang underneath, I bought special ant busting plugs that go into the flower on the feeder. But every time I walked by, there were ants floating inside, so down it came. Maybe I’ll try it again next year. Lovely visit hon, happy gardening xxK

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    • We’ve had issues with ants in the past. We’ve used a variety of solutions, depending on location. The window feeder has a water mote so it keeps the ants from passing to the sugarwater. The feeders hanging from hooks on the house don’t seem to attract ants (perhaps too far to climb). We use a gadget *above* the feeder in the tree and that prevents the ants from coming down. I hope you find your own solution, as they are a treat to watch throughout the day.

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  2. I didn’t know humming birds needed to eat every 15 minutes so that’s something new I’ve learnt today. We are getting through sunflower hearts like nobody’s business with the goldfinches especially who love them. I think we will have to stop feeding them soon as the weather gets better and the days longer as I’ve only been letting the cats out after nightfall but I don’t think that will be fair to them once it doesn’t get dark until 10p.m. πŸ˜ΎπŸ˜ΏπŸ™€πŸ˜Ύ

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    • I forgot about your long northern days. Good point! I suppose as the seasons change, the birds will have more choices of food in their natural setting. Then you can resume in the fall. I’m keeping Tessa indoors at night and in the early morning hours. At dusk she likes to visit and sit on the compost bin, hoping to catch a rat. They visit the bin and also the orange tree just above it. The good news is that she’s not a good hunter, unlike my former kitty, Fluffy, who left rat carcasses in the garden on a regular basis. Lindy was a gentle hunter in her youth. She managed to bring in live rats on at least four occassinons. Be still my heart. I’m glad she’s mellowed with age.

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  3. Alys, your idea of a daily blog post is wonderful, and as a follower of your gardening ideas, I look forward to seeing and hearing about your beautiful yard and garden for the entire month. Thank you, so much for brightening up my dreary Ohio day with glorious pictures of hummingbirds and sunny, warm days to look forward to, eventually!

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    • Thank you so much for following and for commenting. I’m pleased to know that you enjoy these posts. I get my love of gardening from my dad who was a horticulturist, first in England, then in India and finally Canada where he met my mom. Our Ontario garden was a hand-crafted oasis created by my dad. I often wish he could be here to enjoy the opportunities for gardening that California provides.

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  4. That top picture of the hummingbird blew me away. Wowsah! Is that his tiny feet I see curled close to his body? What a little beauty! We only have hummingbirds in the summer, and we feed the ones that come here for the same reason that you do. We just love seeing those tiny zoomers.

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  5. I looked up abutilon and don’t think i can grow them here. They like really warm weather. Good idea to keep only the high flowers. You are lucky to have so many hummers. They like places to find safety in quickly when they go exploring for food. I’m pretty wide open here. Maybe the front porch area will work. Hmmm. You have me thinking. Hugs.

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    • We definitely qualify in the warm weather department. We’re expecting low eighties for several more days before we drop twenty degrees to a more seasonal norm. Are you seeing warmer days as well? When we placed our water fountain, I remember reading that birds are heavy after splashing in the water, so they need a nearby tree to dry off. It’s a mixed bag, because while the tree offers shelter, it also dumps debris in the fountain and gets caught in the filter. It’s all about balance. I inadvertently came across a video of a praying mantis eating a hummingbird. It was horrifying but it highlights the challenges in nature. Mantis are good for the garden but they’ll eat hummingbirds. Hummingbirds eat spiders, which are also good for the garden, and on and on. I think the best we can do with our gardens is plant a variety of native plants, provide a protected source of water, and let nature do the rest.

      I’m sure your hummers would love the shelter of your porch, and I know you would enjoy the regular visits.

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    • Hi Lisa! That hummingbird rescue was extraordinary. The bird was so trusting as we fed it and cradled it overnight before we could turn her over to the Wildlife Center. We were so happy she survived. The WCSV does amazing work. I hope spring temps and your garden will reinvigorate your blogging life as well.

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  6. They are delightful Alys and have a somwhat mystical air to them as we don’t have them in Europe. I can imagine you watching them like I watch our hawk moths, which are constantly in motion. It must also be wonderful to have abutilons growing all year. I sometimes buy one for the summer and have even grown them from seed and I kept a couple through winter once, as houseplants, before they got too big!

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