Archive for May, 2013

The Ultimate Dining Guide for Hummingbirds

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Hummingbird flying among the flowering garden plantsThe ultimate dining experience for hummers is a well-stocked hummingbird garden. Sure, they will flock to your feeders if that is their only option, and in the earliest days of spring or the dog days of summer, your feeders may be absolutely necessary for their survival. However, nothing pleases hummingbirds more than offering them a nectar-filled all you can eat buffet.

The ideal hummingbird bistro includes an assortment of blossoms in an array of colors, especially red. Hummingbirds can see red from far away, while most other critters, including birds and bees, can't distinguish red at all. Therefore, hummers somehow know that if they see a red blossom, it probably hasn't already been picked over, and they head right for it. They actually will check out any red objectyou should see how they flock to our red gazing balls!

But, of course, once you put out the eat sign, you have the smorgasbord ready. Plant a variety of different blossoms, especially tube-shaped blossoms that hang and cascade. The hummer is just about the only creature that can extract pollen from a tubular blossom, so it's like putting out an exclusive dish for them at the buffet.

There is a lot of overlap between the favorite plants of butterflies and hummers, so you will probably find your yard also becoming a gathering place for butterflies, with the hummers darting from flower to flower, while the butterflies flutter about leisurely.

Stocking Your Hummingbird Buffet

There are hundreds of plant species that hummingbirds love, but you will want to narrow down your selection to those that will do well in your Zone.

You'll also want to aim for a garden that will have something blooming in it from the beginning of spring until the first hard frost. By considering the bloom times of different plants, you can come up with a mix that will achieve this goal. To make it easy for you, we have grouped the list below according to bloom times, and have also indicated Hardiness Zones within each description. (If the text indicates a plant will be perennial in certain Zones, that also means it is ideally suited to those Zones.)

Hummingbirds are driven by sight more than smell, so the showier the blossoms, the more interested they will be. As mentioned earlier, they like red, and some gardeners also recommend orange. In the list below we have linked to red varieties, but you don't need a solid red garden to have lots of hummingbirds. Just be sure to provide a decent showing of red and perhaps orange, and then go for whatever color mix suits your fancy.

Variety is always a good idea, so mix it up by offering the hummers a combination of bushes, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. The bushes and the perennials will be the foundation of your hummingbird garden, while you can change the annuals as you wish, to alter the overall appearance or create a new color scheme.

One note of caution: please don't use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in your hummingbird garden. Hummers are such tiny, sensitive creatures that their systems can hardly handle the red dye some people put in the sugar water of their feeders, let alone strong chemicals. We know you want them to be around for a long, long time, so please be sure that the blossoms they feed on are not laced with anything toxic.

To learn more about hummingbirds, read Make Your Back Yard a Hummingbird Hilton, Our Seven Favorite Hummingbird Feeders, How to Get Your Backyard Humming, and The Care and Feeding of Your Hummingbird Feeder. Within these articles you will find links that enable you to track the hummers' migration and to report your first sightings. There's even a link to a video of a hummingbird snoring!

Hummingbirds will return year after year to a spot they like, and they will tell their friends, too. So when you create a hummingbird garden, the time you invest will reap many delights for years to come, both for you and for the hummers.

For continuous blooms throughout the entire growing season, we suggest you plant a variety of bushes, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The bushes and perennials will be the foundation of your hummingbird garden, while annuals can be changed to create a different look each summer. To help you make your choices, here is a month-by-month guide to what will bloom when and for how long:

 

March to April

Hummingbird dinning on a Chaenomeles flower

Chaenomeles (Flowering Quince): deciduous shrub, bonsai trainable, drought-tolerant, deer resistant and ideal for cut arrangements. Ours produce neither thorns nor fruits. Chaenomeles will bloom from early spring to early or mid-summer. Hardy in Zones 5–9.

Hummingbird feeding on a Canna flower

Canna: tropical, trumpet-shaped blossoms, lily-like foliage, needs 6-8 hours of sun and a warmer winter location, but is suitable for containers. Blooms 90 days after seeding from mid-summer to first frost. Annual in Zones: 1-6, perennial in zones 7-1.

Hummingbird feeding from a Cleome flower

Cleome (Spider Flower): Plants grow sturdy 4-foot stems topped with unique flower blossoms. Blooms throughout spring and fall until the first frost. Hardy in Zones 2a to 11b, annual in Zones: 2a-8, perennial in Zones: 9-11b.

Hummingbird drinking from a flowering Lantana plant

Lantana: free flowering, tender perennial, suitable for indoor and outdoor containers, sun-lover, drought- and salt-tolerant. Lantana will bloom from late spring through October or November. Hardy in Zones 8–11.

Hummingbird pollinating a Weigela flower

Weigela: highly adaptable, trumpet-shaped blossoms, fragrant with low pollen (ideal for allergy sufferers), and deer resistant. Weigela will bloom from early spring to early fall. Perennial in Zones 4–8.

 

April to May

Rufous hummingbird enjoying a visit to a Columbine plant

Aquilegia (Columbine): blooms late spring, early summer, drought-tolerant in partial shade, deer resistant. Perennial in Zones 3–9.

Hummingbirds love Digitalis plants

Digitalis (Foxglove): perennial or biennial, wide variety of colors, prefers moist soil, puts on a dramatic and flamboyant display. Blooms late spring to late summer. Perennial in Zones 3–9.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird enjoying Fuchsia flowers

Fuchsia: annual, hanging blossoms ideal for hummingbirds, prefers partial shade, well-suited for containers, striking and tropical-looking flowers, blooms mid-spring to mid-fall. Hardy in Zones 10-11.

Hummingbird eating from a Impatiens flower

Impatiens: annual, partial sun to full shade preferred, perfect for container growing, wide variety of colors and forms, blooms late spring to early fall. Hardy in Zones 9 –11.

Annas Hummingbird dinning from a Honeysuckle flower blossom

Lonicera (Honeysuckle): deciduous vine, wonderfully aromatic, blooms from spring through fall and its fall berries attract migratory songbirds. Lonicera will bloom from mid-spring though October or November. Perennial in Zones 4–9.

Hummingbirds love Lupine flowers

Lupinus (Lupine): extremely adaptable, stunning planted en masse, popular for cutting gardens, fragrant and colorful, blooms late spring to summer. Hardy in zones 4–11.

Hummingbirds love the flowers of Petunia plants

Petunia: extremely versatile annual, light and sweet fragrance, low maintenance, fantastic variety of colors and forms, good for containers and beds. Blooms throughout spring until the first hard frost. Hardy in zones 9–11.

Hummingbird ready to feed on a Salvia flower

Salvia (Meadow Sage): disease- and pest-free perennial, blooms spring to fall, drought-tolerant, grows in poor soils and looks beautifully dramatic in cut arrangements. Hardy in Zones 7–11.

 

May to June

Hummingbird dinning on a Butterfly Bush

Buddleia (Butterfly Bush): low maintenance, drought-tolerant once established, fragrant and great for cut arrangements. Buddleia will bloom from mid-summer to early fall. Perennial in Zones 5–9.

Hummingbirds love Monarda flowers

Monarda (Bee Balm): is a fragrant perennial in the mint family and ideal for shaded, naturalized areas. It attracts beneficial predatory insects and pollinators. Blooms from early summer to early fall. Hardy in Zones 4–9.

 

June to July

Male Calliope Hummingbird drinking from an Agastache plant

Agastache (Hummingbird Mint or Hyssop): perennial in many climates; heat, drought, wind and rain tolerant, deer repellant, aromatic and nice in cut flower arrangements. Will bloom from early summer to mid-fall. Perennial in Zones 6–9.

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird eating from a Penstemon plant

Penstemon (Beardtongue): drought-tolerant, tubular blossoms, perennialtolerant to below 0°, deer and rabbit resistant. Blooms from mid-summer to late summer. Hardy in Zones 3–8.

Hummingbird drinking from a Phlox flower

Phlox: available in creeping and garden varieties, easy to grow and care for, semi-evergreen foliage and a nice addition to fresh cut arrangements, blooms mid-summer to fall. Hardy in Zones 4–8.

We wish you a gorgeous hummingbird garden teeming with these marvelously entertaining and amazingly energetic little gems.

Our Annual Annuals Sale Is On!

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Potted Annual Plants for SaleOur yearly Annuals Plant sale is here just in time! Choose from our selection of easy-care flowers such as Impatiens, Fuchsias, and Geraniums, and make your home the envy of your neighborhood. All our annuals (around 400 varieties!) are 25% off through 5/31.

If you’re looking for a prolific bloomer that spills vivid color over the sides of your planters, try Calibrachoa or its larger cousin, the Wave Petunia. Both are available in a literal rainbow of colors. For a tropical look, add Mandevilla to your patio planters.

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Lantana Plants on Sale

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Potted Lantana Plants for Sale

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The lovely Lantana will be one of the first shrubs to bloom in the spring and will often bloom right through to the first frost. Well-suited to growing in the South, many of our customers in the North love them so much they grow them in large containers or on the sunniest side of the house and lovingly protect them throughout the winter.

 They just can't wait to see those colorful blossoms come springtime!

The Lantana (lan-TAH-na) has been hybridized through the years to produce woody shrubs that don't require a lot of care. No longer do you have to remove the fruit in order for reblooming to happenthey just do that all by themselves! The new breeds of Lantana also are widely adaptable to various soils, have an extended blooming season, and are exceedingly drought and salt tolerant once well established.

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Our Bandana Lantana grows more compactly than many other Lantana varieties, while the available colors are simply glorious! The Bandana Lantana is well-suited to growing in containers and even in hanging baskets, most trailing up to 36 inches. In fact, some of our Yellow Lantana Plant for Salecustomers grow Bandana as a flowering groundcover. You can choose from a variety of fantastic colors, with some cultivars exhibiting four colors, all in one blossom and all at the same time!

Our Carolina Lantana has an improved mounding growth habit, with some varieties trailing up to 4 feet. Most Carolina cultivars will yield bicolor blossoms in hues from creamy yellow to peach to hot pink and brilliant reddish-orange. Carolina Lantanas seem to have a more decidedly tropical personality.

Contrary to popular belief, the Lantana doesn't have an unpleasant aroma; the leaves, when crushed, can emit a somewhat pungent, citrusy scent.  Just don't walk on them! 

Our Son Lantana Series is the most shrubby. Reaching heights and widths of three to five feet, these well-branched and compact woody shrubs can be one of your perennial foundation plants in the southern zones and grown as a large, containerized shrub in the northern zones. Many of our gardeners on the cusp of the north and south grow them as a tender perennial, covering them with a plant protection cover and/or mounding a thick layer of straw or mulch at the base of the plant.

And finally, we have more Lantana, which do not fall into a specific breeder's series, but are no less beautiful or carefree. You should see the Lavender Trailing Lantana on this page!

Lantanas today are not the invasive species the wild lantanas were; many of today's hybrids having no seeds (fruit) at all or sterile seeds. Their tropical beauty is so loved it encouraged Lantana growers to breed options that would be non-invasive while preserving the fantastic colors and growing habits, sometimes with remarkable improvements in the species.Potted Pink Lantana Plants for Sale

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Thursday, May 9th, 2013

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