HUMMINGBIRD GARDENING

Out of 320 species of hummingbird, 8 have been recorded in North Florida.

Rofous is uncommon but regular throughout the state.
Buff-bellied is a rare visitor in the Panhandle but has been seen twice in Ft. Lauderdale.
Black-chinned is rare in North Florida but has been seen in St. Petersburg.
Anna’s and Calliope have been recorded once in the Panhandle.

Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird nests in Florida.
Smallest of birds (one-quarter ounce) with one of the largest of appetites.  They require a constant source of energy.  Their wingbeats have been measured at 20 to 200 beats per second.  Feed every 10 to 15 minutes, dawn to dusk.  They eat more than half their weight in food and eight times their weight in water.  In darkness, heart rate and body temperature drop to conserve energy to prevent starvation (torpidity).
Adult hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar. Nectar is an energy rich food that is rapidly metabolized. The ideal hummingbird plant has red, orange or pink tubular flowers, either large and solitary or hang in loose, drooping clusters.

    Tubular flowers hold large amounts of nectar at their base.  Scent is unimportant because hummingbirds depend on sight rather than smell.  Red flowers stand out most among colors.
Beside color and shape, bloom season is an important consideration.  Use plants that bloom when the birds are present.  In North Florida, Ruby-throats arrive in spring and migrate south in fall.
Plant height is important, as is spacing.  Tallest in center or back, shortest in front.  Provides easier access.  They use space in between to hover.
Nesting birds are very aggressive and territorial.  Nests are built from just a few feet off the ground to at least 90 feet.  Sites are chosen based on good concealment cover, near water, near the tips of slender branches, never far from a predicable food source.
No pesticides should be used in hummingbird gardens.  If the flowers have been treated, it is likely that the nectar has been contaminated.  Hummingbirds also feed extensively on small insects such as gnats, aphids and spiders.
Bathing sites can be important.  Hummingbirds rarely need to drink water but they will bathe in a variety of locations provided the water is extremely shallow.

Native Nectar Plants

Aesculus pavia                    (sp; nc)                       Red Buckeye
Aguilegia Canadensis                    (sp; n)             Columbine
Asclepias incarnata             (sp, f; ncs)                  Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias lanceolata           (sp, f; ncs)                  Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa              (sp, f; ncs)                  Butterfly Weed
Bignonia capreolate                        (sp, s; ncs)                 Cross Vine
Buddleia davidii                                                       Butterfly Bush
Campsis radicans                (sp, f; nc)                    Trumpet Vine
Canna sp.                             (sp, w; s)                    Canna
Cordia sebestena                (sp, w; cs)                  Geiger Tree
Duranta repens                    (sp, w; cs)                  Golden Dewdrop
Erythrina herbacea              (sp; ncs)                     Coral Bean
Hamelia patens                    (sp, w; sc)                  Firebush
Hibiscus aculeatus              (s, f; n)                        Pineland Hibiscus
Hibiscus coccineus             (sp, f; ncs)                  Red Hibiscus
Hibiscus furcellatus                        (sp, w; cs)                  Wooly Hibiscus
Hibiscus grandiflorus          (sp, s; ncs)                 Swamp Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos         (sp, s; nc)                   Marsh Mallow
Ipomoea hederifolia                        (sp, f; ncs)                  Morning Glory
Ipomoea quamoclit              (sp, f; nc)                    Cypress Vine
Ipomopsis rubra                   (f, nc)                          Standing Cypress
Kalmia latifolia                      (sp; n)                         Mountain Laurel
Kosteletzkya virginica         (s, f; ncs)                    Salt Marsh Mallow
Lantana camara                   (sp, w; ncs)                Common Lantana
Liriodendron tulipifera                                            Tulip Tree
Lobelia cardinalis                (s, f; nc)                      Cardinal Flower
Lonicera sempervirens       (sp, f; nc)                    Coral Honeysuckle
Monarda punctata               (s, f; nc)                      Dotted Horsemint
Nerium oleander                                                      Oleander
Penstemon multiflorus       (sp, s; nc)                   Pink Beardtongue
Phlox pilosa                          (sp, s; nc)                   Pineland Beardtongue
Physostegia purpurea        (sp, s; nc)                   Swamp Obedient Plant
Physostegia virginiana       (sp, s; n)                     Obedient Plant
Rhododendron austrinum (sp; n)                         Flame Azalea
Rhododendron canescens            (sp; n)                         Piedmont Azalea
Rhododendron viscosum   (s; nc)                         Swamp Obedient Plant
Salvia Azurea                       (f; nc)                          Azure Sage
Salvia cuccinea                   (sp, w; ncs)                Red Salvia
Salvia lyrata                          (sp, s; ncs)                 Lyre-leaved Salvia
Sophora tomentosa             (sp, f; sc)                    Necklace Pod
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis           (sp, w; cs)      Blue Porterweed
Tillandsia fasciculate          (s, f; ncs)                    Wild Pine
Trichostema dichotomum   (s, f; ncs)                    Blue Curls
Yucca alifolia                                    (sp, s; ncs)                 Spanish Bayonet
Yucca filamlentosa              (sp, s; nc)                   Bear Grass

(Gladiolus, Mimosa, Begonia, Althea, Larkspur, Rose, Beech, Scarlet Petunia, Geranium, Chinaberry, Passion flower, Japanese Honeysuckle, Trumpet Creeper, Thistle, Black Locust, Coralberry, Evening-primrose)

 

sp – spring                s – summer               f – fall             w – winter

n – north                    nc- north central                   ncs – north central south

 

 
 

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