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GARDENS BY THE BAY


Aquilegia flabellata nana 'Blue Angel'


HUMMINGBIRD-FRIENDLY PERENNIALS & THEIR COMPANIONS


Hummingbirds generally prefer brightly coloured flowers with a lot of rich nectar to provide the much-needed energy they require. Unlike bees and butterflies, hummingbirds possess a long bill that can penetrate deep into long, tubular flowers where such nectar resides. In return for this food source, hummingbirds provide the pollination required by the flowers they visit. The plants that attract hummers have little or no scent. Hummingbird-friendly plants are often red, generally blooming for a longer period of time than other flowers. Their flowers will be spaced far enough apart to provide access for the hummingbird while his wings are in rapid motion. And the bloom will take place in daylight - no night-blooming wonders here.

I read recently that there are at least 150 North American flowering plants that seem specialized to attract hummingbirds. What works in one area however may not do so in another. So you must do some research into what plants will work best in your area. Start by considering some of those shown below along with the plants that will complement them and may do double duty in bringing hummingbirds to your gardens.


* Watch for the animated hummingbird and butterfly with the plants that attract them. *
The deer icon indicates plants that deer are not usually attracted to.

The best time and method to propagate plants can be found on our image-intensive PROPAGATION page.

To help your plants grow their best, check out our FERTILIZATION page.

To create your own plant partnerships based on tried and true color theory, check out our GARDEN COLOR page.

To see if a particular plant is on this page press Ctrl+F, type in the name, then click the Find button.


AGASTACHE

Wonderful colour, beautiful form and heady aroma are all attributes of the Hyssop genus. Plants will attract birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds with their nectar-rich flowers. Hummers are highly attracted to plants with red, orange or pink flowers. Blue flowers are especially attractive to butterflies.

Agastache foeniculum:  in general, profuse bloom into the fall season

    uses:  mixer or filler in summer and fall borders, in containers, flower arrangements
      combined with other long-blooming perennials:  Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain', S. x 'Scarlet Spires',
        S. guaranitica 'Argentine Skies'
      with:  Nepeta sibirica 'Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron', Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low'
        with:  Achillea i.e. 'Summer Pastels', 'Feuerland' or 'Anblo'
          with:  Origanum 'Rosenkuppel' (Ornamental Oregano), Kniphofia i.e. 'Little Maid', 'Bees' Sunset', 'Strawberries and Cream'
            in front of perennials with gray foliage:  Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
              for contrast against silver-foliaged plants:  Perovskia 'Longin' (silvery-white stems)
                for contrast in front of burgundy foliage:  Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon', Aster lateriflorus 'Lady in Black'
                  with clumping ornamental grass:  Helictotrichon sempervirens, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' (copper-red)
                    to complement a companion herb:  Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue'
                      with fall-blooming perennials:  Aster laevis 'Bluebird', Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite',
                        Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome', Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
                      in pots or containers with:  annuals and tender perennials such as Solenostemon (Coleus)

                    There are many species and cultivars to choose from, in a variety of colours, most of which will look wonderful with any of the combinations suggested above. The forms below are just a few to watch for. For images of variously-coloured forms of this perennial visit the North Creek Nurseries site, then scroll down to the Agastache section.

                    • A. foeniculum 'Fragrant Delight':  seed strain, 20-40", white, blue, red, yellow or pink, foliage scented like anise,
                        peppermint, spearmint or licorice
                    • Agastache x 'Blue Fortune':  powder-blue flowers, deep green foliage, 36"x18", mid-summer bloom, dry to medium soil,
                        full sun to light shade
                    • Agastache nepetoides:  Giant Yellow Hyssop, 5-6'x18"
                    • Agastache rugosa 'Golden Jubilee':  the first chartreuse-foliaged form, 24-36", soft blue flowers, sun to part shade,
                        mid to late summer bloom, for mid-border, self-seeds "true"
                    • Agastache rugosa 'Honey':  3', silvery-green foliage, attracts goldfinches, blue flowers
                    • Agastache rugosa 'Honey Bee Blue':  24-36"x18-24", intense blue flowers, gray-green foliage
                    • Agastache rupestris:  Sunset Hyssop, 15", sun to part shade, mid-summer to fall bloom,
                        thread-like gray-green foliage, provide rich, well-drained soil
                    • Agastache rupestris 'Apache Sunset':  20", bright orange flowers, aromatic gray foliage

                    For even more forms of Hyssop, follow the link to the Hardy Plants site. Once there, click on the Seeds A link, then the genus Agastache, and delight in all the possible choices.


                    ALCEA

                    The perfect cottage garden plant, the Hollyhock is considered a biennial or short-lived perennial. Good air circulation is a must, although protection from wind is also essential. Hollyhocks are best closely spaced, 2 to 3 feet apart. Top dress the site in spring with compost, manure or a balanced organic fertilizer. Water deeply only in dry weather. At other times excess water can be fatal.

                    Alcea:  Hollyhock

                      synonym:  Althaea
                        where:  at rear of borders, along fences or walls
                          behind:  Paeonia
                            beside:  Echinops ritro, Digitalis
                              behind bushy perennials:  Platycodon grandiflorus
                            Alcea rosea:  white
                              behind:  Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate'
                            For Hollyhocks of various other colours, follow the links below.


                            AQUILEGIA

                            The early-blooming flowers of the Columbine provide a rich nectar source for hummingbirds in late spring to early summer when few other sources are available in the garden. Although short-lived, from 2 to 4 years in good garden conditions, they add a definite charm wherever they are planted. In full sun plants will be more robust, will provide more bloom and remain more compact. In partial shade expect flowers to last longer due to the protection the shade provides from heat. When the base of older plants becomes woody and blooms are reduced in number it is time to replace with new young plants.

                            Aquilegia alpina:  Alpine Columbine, bright blue

                              with:  Aurinia saxatilis
                            Aquilegia alpina 'Hensol Harebell':  Blue Columbine, deep lavender-blue
                              note:  this is a long-lived form
                                with:  most of the rose-coloured June-blooming perennials
                              Aquilegia:  Columbine
                                where :  in dappled shade at woodland edges
                                  with :  spring wildflowers, ferns, Hosta spp.
                                    with :  Heuchera, Helleborus, Phlox divaricata
                                      with :  Iberis, Dicentra, Iris, Lupinus, Papaver, Mertensia virginica
                                        behind:  clumps of taller ferns, to hide leaf miner damage to basal foliage i.e. Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett' (pale yellow)
                                          behind Dryopteris erythrosora
                                        above trio with :  Arum italicum 'Pictum' (winter-spring) & Pulmonaria (spring-summer)
                                      Aquilegia:  long-spurred & taller species
                                        note:  plant in clumps or drifts among other plants
                                          interspersed with:  Iris, Paeonia, Geranium spp.
                                        Aquilegia:  deep purple forms
                                          with:  Lychnis viscaria (gorgeous contrast between the vibrant pink & the deep purple)
                                        Aquilegia:   Dragon Fly Hybrids;  mixed colours, under 2' tall
                                          where:  filted shade
                                            with:  Iberis, Dicentra
                                          Aquilegia Spring Song Hybrids :  30" in mixed colours
                                            combined with :  Azalea (behind) & Wild Blue Phlox (in front)
                                          Aquilegia canadensis:  Wild Columbine, Canadian Columbine, red & yellow, especially attractive to hummingbirds Aquilegia flabellata 'Blue Angel':  Japanese Fan Columbine
                                            Aquilegia flabellata 'Blue Angel' - Japanese Fan Columbine
                                            this short-statured beauty is in the border around this page and the images at the top of the page and directly above
                                          Aquilegia x hybrida:  Hybrid Columbine, 2-3'x12"
                                            Aquilegia - tall double pink
                                            seen above beside Blue Oat Grass, with Spanish Bluebells, light pink Pyrethrum & Solomon's Seal nearby
                                              where :  in groups or drifts, light shade, along stone walls, rock gardens
                                                with spring and early-summer perennials :  Tulipa, Narcissus, wildflowers, ferns
                                                  with:  Hosta, bearded Iris, Nepeta x faassenii, Lupinus, Papaver orientale
                                                Aquilegia x hybrida 'Biedermeyer':  10-16"x12-14"
                                                  note:  always plant in groups of three or more
                                                    around base of tall, shrubby perennials:  Amsonia, Baptisia, Aconitum, Delphinium
                                                      with :  Iberis, Dicentra, Papaver, Astilbe arendsii 'Deutschland', Linum perenne
                                                        with:  Campanula lactifolia (lilac-coloured)
                                                          with spring perennials:  Geranium, .Oenothera, Iris, Paeonia, Lupinus
                                                        Aquilegia x McKana Giants:  30-36"x18"
                                                          with:  Astilbe arendsii 'Deutschland'
                                                            in front of:  Iris (yellow), Campanula lactifolia (lilac)
                                                              behind:  Astilbe & Linum perenne
                                                            Aquilegia 'Blue Butterflies':  6" dwarf, purplish-blue, white-edged
                                                              where:  border edge, rock gardens, containers
                                                            Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow':  2-3' double, mix of red, pink, green
                                                              around base of tall, shrubby perennials:  Amsonia, Baptisia, Aconitum, Delphinium
                                                                with:  Paeonia
                                                                  with:  spring perennials, late bulbs
                                                                    with:  Geranium, Oenothera, Iris, Paeonia, Lupinus

                                                                  For Columbines of various other colours, follow the links below.


                                                                  BUDDLEIA

                                                                  The summer to fall blooms of Butterfly Bush will bring not only butterflies but also hummingbirds to your garden. It is considered a perennial in the north, where it grows to a height of 5-8 feet, and a shrub in the south where growth may reach 10-15 feet. Buddleia davidii prefers full sun as well as rich, mist, well-drained soil. On the other hand Buddleia alternifolia performs well in poor, sandy soil. Feed your plant in spring with a balanced organic fertilizer or a top-dressing of compost or well-rotted manure. Dead-head most types to prolong bloom.

                                                                  Buddleia:  Butterfly Bush

                                                                    Buddleia - pink-flowered Butterfly Bush
                                                                    combined with:  other butterfly-attracting plants in informal meadow plantings
                                                                      with summer and fall-blooming plants:  Aster, Helenium, Echinacea purpurea, Ornamental Grasses
                                                                        underplanted with:  ground covers
                                                                          a dynamite combination with:  Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' & Liatris

                                                                        You can find Butterfly Bushes of various colours by following the links below.


                                                                        HEUCHERA

                                                                        Although hummingbirds are drawn to the flowers of the hybrid Coral Bells, it is the foliage that may provide the most interest to a gardener. Be sure to divide your plants every 2-3 years to keep them vigorous. Use for borders, edging or even as cut flowers. Accoring to Heritage Perennials Perennial Gardening Guide, Heuchera sanguinea is "best for edging purposes, blooming slightly before most other types". Bloom may start in May for this type and in June for the hybrid forms.

                                                                        There are numerous forms of Coral Bells on other pages of this site. Follow the links below to find companions for variously-coloured or sized specimens.


                                                                        LOBELIA

                                                                        My American Horticultural Socity FLOWER FINDER reference book describes the plant below as "red as a cardinal's feathers". This wildflower prefers shade or semi-shade with moist, humusy soil. Lobelias demand sustained moisture for peak performance. Blooms will appear in late summer to fall.

                                                                        Lobelia cardinalis:  bright red

                                                                          where:  wet spots, poolside, along streams
                                                                            with:  Iris, Hosta, Ligularia, ferns
                                                                              in front of:  Cimicifuga racemosa
                                                                                with:  Coreopsis grandiflora 'Sunburst', Iris x germanica
                                                                              Lobelia siphilitica:  does not attract hummingbirds
                                                                                Lobelia siphilitica - Blue Lobelia
                                                                                where:  moist, sunny areas, along ponds & streams
                                                                                  with bold foliage plants:  Ligularia dentata, Hosta, Chelone obliqua, ferns
                                                                                    with:  Iris x germanica, Iris sibirica, Iris ensata, Astilbe
                                                                                      with moisture-lovers:  Hemerocallis, Tradescantia, Phlox paniculata, Helenium
                                                                                        with yellows:  Lilium, Linum flavum


                                                                                      LUPINUS

                                                                                      Lupines bloom in erect spikes of pea-like flowers in a variety of colours, including pink, red, purple shades, yellows and white. They thrive in cool, moist summers, rather than the hot and humid ones in our area where they suffer. Provide them with full sun to light shade and rich, moist, well-drained soil for best performance.

                                                                                      Lupinus:  Lupine

                                                                                        Lupinus - Lupine
                                                                                        where:  deep rich soil, well-drained, neutral to acidic
                                                                                          behind:  something that grows large enough to hide them
                                                                                            with:  Paeonia
                                                                                              with:  Aquilegia, Linum perenne, Campanula persicifolia (purple forms)
                                                                                                with:  Delphinium x elatum, Eremurus x isabellinus 'Shelford Hybrids' (4-8')
                                                                                                  for shape contrast with:  Iris x germanica (Bearded Iris)
                                                                                                    combined with:  Achillea x 'Moonshine' & Hemerocallis 'Golden Gift'
                                                                                                  Lupinus Russell Hybrids:  separate or mixed colours
                                                                                                    with:  flowering shrubs, Iris, Paeonia, Campanula
                                                                                                      behind:  crimson Dianthus barbatus
                                                                                                    Lupinus polyphyllus:  Washington Lupine
                                                                                                      with:  Aquilegia, Geranium, Campanula, Iris, Paeonia

                                                                                                    You will find information about Lupines of other colours by following the link below.


                                                                                                    PENSTEMON

                                                                                                    Beard-Tongue is the common name for these native North American wildflowers. Tubular flowers are a sure way to bring hummingbirds flocking, and the flowering spikes of Penstemon are no exception. If you can provide full sun and well-drained soil then these are certainly for you. Many are perfect for rock garden use.

                                                                                                    Division every four years or so is necessary for vigour. Keep the inner portions and discard the older outer portions. For those wanting to try propagation by seed, a visit to Tom Clothier's Seed Germination Methodology page will provide full instructions for dozens of species within the genus.

                                                                                                    Penstemon:  Beardtongue

                                                                                                      Penstemon - Beardtongue
                                                                                                      with:  perennial Geranium spp., Tradescantia, Achillea, Oenothera, Stachys, Yucca, Ornamental Grasses
                                                                                                    Penstemon fruticosus 'Purple Haze':  sub-shrub, UBC
                                                                                                      where:  over banks or walls, as edger, in rock gardens

                                                                                                    Find Beard-Tongue of other colours by following the link below.


                                                                                                    SALVIA

                                                                                                    The genus, Sage, is a very diverse group encompassing annuals, biennials, perennials, herbs, shrubs and sub-shrubs with tubular, often brightly-coloured flowers as well as aromatic foliage. What more could a hummingbird want. Their needs are simple - full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.

                                                                                                    Follow the links below for information about numerous Salvia forms.

                                                                                                  • purple Salvia forms
                                                                                                  • white Salvia forms
                                                                                                  • yellow Salvia forms
                                                                                                  • Salvia with silver foliage
                                                                                                  • Salvia with variegated foliage
                                                                                                  • For a plant profile with everything you need to know to grow it well, follow the link to Salvia 'East Friesland'.


                                                                                                    All of our own Gardens By The Bay pages can be accessed by clicking on the links below.


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                                                                                                    THE GARDENS

                                                                                                    CORNER GARDEN CONSTRUCTION  |  CORNER GARDEN PLANTING  |  LONG GARDEN

                                                                                                    EAST GARDEN  |  HOSTA GARDEN  |  NORTH GARDEN  |  WINTER GARDENS

                                                                                                    PLANT PARTNERSHIPS

                                                                                                    BLUE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Geranium  |  Iris - Vinca

                                                                                                    BULBS    Allium - Hyacinthus  |  Narcissus only  |  Tulipa only  |  Minor Bulbs

                                                                                                    BUTTERFLY MAGNETS    Anaphalis - Hemerocallis  |  Liatris - Veronicastrum
                                                                                                    DAYLILIES      Spider & Unusual Form

                                                                                                    EDGERS    Arabis - Iris  |  Nepeta - Veronica

                                                                                                    FOLIAGE PERENNIALS     Alchemilla - Tanacetum

                                                                                                    HOSTA    Hosta - all

                                                                                                    HUMMINGBIRD-FRIENDLY PERENNIALS    Alcea - Salvia

                                                                                                    ORANGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Tulipa

                                                                                                    ORNAMENTAL GRASSES    Acorus - Imperata |  Miscanthus - Spodiopogon

                                                                                                    PINK PERENNIALS    Achillea - Lilium  |  Lychnis - Veronica

                                                                                                    PURPLE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Liatris  |  Polemonium - Veronica

                                                                                                    RED PERENNIALS    Achillea - Veronica

                                                                                                    SHADE PERENNIALS    Aegopodium - Erythronium  |  Ferns - Polemonium  |  Polygonatum - Vinca

                                                                                                    SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Cerastium    |    Cornus - Limonium    |    Lunaria - Veronica

                                                                                                    SIMPLY SPECIAL PERENNIALS    Acanthus - Saxifraga

                                                                                                    WHITE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Iris  |  Kalimeris - Yucca

                                                                                                    YELLOW PERENNIALS    Achillea - Hypericum  |  Inula - Verbascum

                                                                                                    VARIEGATED-FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Acorus - Erythronium  |  Hakonechloa - Lysimachia  |  Miscanthus - Yucca

                                                                                                    PLANT PROFILES

                                                                                                    Dianthus 'Tiny Rubies'  |  Geranium  |  Geum coccineum  |  Kerria japonica  |  Knautia macedonica

                                                                                                    Paeonia tenuifolia  |  Papaver somniferum  |  Rudbeckia  |  Salvia 'East Friesland'

                                                                                                    Trollius  |  Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'

                                                                                                    PROPAGATION

                                                                                                    DIVISION - SPRING ONLY  |   DIVISION - FALL ONLY  |   DIVISION - SPRING OR FALL  |   DO NOT DIVIDE

                                                                                                    FERTILIZATION

                                                                                                    BULBS  |   ORNAMENTAL GRASSES  |   PERENNIALS  |   SHRUBS  |   VINES

                                                                                                    LINKS

                                                                                                    GARDENS  |   LOCAL GARDENS  |   BOTANICAL TERMINOLOGY

                                                                                                    GARDENING BOOKS  |   NON-GARDENING


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