by Kathy Van Mullekom, a lifelong gardener and gardening writer living in York County, Virginia
Have you ever had a hummingbird come pecking on your window?
I almost did last year when I forgot to fill my hummingbird feeder.
The little rascal flew right up to my sitting room window, hovered for a few seconds and flew toward the feeder. Guilt filled my heart because I knew his feeder was moldy from the humid heat and empty from his frequent visits.
Quickly, I scooted to the yard, grabbed the feeder and used an old toothbrush to clean away the mold. Then, I washed it in hot soapy water and rinsed it thoroughly before filling it with a new batch of sugar water – one-fourth sugar and three-fourths water. I use no red-colored artificial nectar because research shows that hummingbirds prefer plain sugar water.
There are many hummingbird feeders on the market, and I’ve tried them all. My all-time favorite remains the saucer-style feeder with multiple ports. The saucer snaps apart easily for quick cleanup and screws into a bottle-style container that holds several days of sugar water.
My yard is also home to many perennials that hummingbirds love – Black and Blue Salvia being one of the best. Yes, it’s true – hummingbirds favor flower colors other than red.
Other perennials and annuals I find hummingbirds really, really like include red crocosmia, flowering tobacco, honeysuckle, red hot poker, delphinium, trumpet vine, bee balm (one of my all-time favorites for bees, too!) and petunias.
When it comes to petunias, I plant them in huge drifts, using my favorite deep purple for an eye-popping river of color. That wave of purple is like a giant billboard that says my pollinator garden is open for business and all birds, bees and butterflies are welcome to come and enjoy themselves!
photo by Kathy Van Mullekom