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By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Dicliptera hummingbird plant (Dicliptera suberecta) is a sturdy, ornamental plant that delights hummingbirds with its bright blooms from late spring until the first frost in autumn. Learn how to grow this plant in the article that follows.
While hummingbirds will visit any yard that meets their basic needs, a carefully designed garden is not only more attractive to birds, but will offer better views, easier care, and more enjoyment for birders. When planning your hummingbird garden, consider each of these factors:
A hummingbird garden does not need to be large to be useful, but remember that flowers grow and plants spread when determining the garden's boundaries. A larger garden will accommodate a greater variety of plants and give more birds room to enjoy the offerings.
An ideal hummingbird garden will get both sun and shade throughout the day, but will also offer good views to birders from a nearby window, patio, or deck. Consider the growing needs, including sunlight requirements and soil type, of flowers you want to include when deciding where to position your garden.
A longer, narrower garden will provide more area for the birds to spread out and enjoy and will have fewer obstructed views of the flying visitors. A slightly curved garden or one with a more flowing shape will be more aesthetically pleasing as well.
Choose plants with colors that will attract hummingbirds' attention and lure them to your garden. Red and pink shades are the best options, but any colors that attract birds will also be useful for attracting hummingbirds. You can also add accents, such as a gazing ball, statue, paving stones, or other decorations to add more color to the garden.
If your hummingbird garden will incorporate structures such as the side of a shed, a trellis, an arbor, or garden hooks, keep them in mind when planning so they are not overwhelmed with new plants. Position structures to be part of the overall garden design in a useful, practical way.
The exact plants you choose will vary depending on your climate, location, soil type, and other factors. Choose several of the top flowers for hummingbirds to make your garden a beacon for these little birds. Mix annuals and perennials and choose flowers with staggered bloom times to ensure an abundant food source as long as possible. Flowers that bloom in early spring and late fall are especially valuable since nectar sources can be scarce at those times.
Position plants carefully to create a tiered effect that will give birds greater access to more food sources without obstructing the best views. Place taller plants and trees either in the center or back of the bed, with shorter plants and mounding varieties in front. Grouping plants with similar watering and fertilization needs together will make caring for them easier as well.
Include space to add hummingbird feeders, water sources, and nesting material in your hummingbird garden to make it a one-stop-shop for these flying jewels. These accessories can also become great options for getting great views of hummingbirds as they repeatedly visit the same spot.
Besides providing nectar-producing plants, you can offer nutrition from a hummingbird feeder. The standard recipe to fill them closely approximates flower nectar: four parts water to one part sugar. To make food for hummingbirds, combine the ingredients and boil the mixture for two minutes to sterilize the syrup. Don't boil longer evaporation of more water can make the solution stronger, which can be bad for the birds' health. Cool the hummingbird recipe solution to room temperature before filling the feeder. Store extra solution in the freezer thaw to use in the next cycle.
Don't substitute honey for the sugar in the feeder recipe the solution spoils quicker and may contain bacteria that can cause a fatal fungal disease in hummingbirds. Also avoid artificial sweeteners they don't provide any calories, and these active avians need lots of calories to keep them going.
Adding red food coloring to the hummingbird feeder recipe is unnecessary most hummingbird feeders are made from red plastic or glass to help attract the birds. Also, chemicals in the food coloring may be harmful to the birds' health.
Clean hummingbird feeders at least once every three days in hot weather or every week in cool weather so harmful bacteria don't build up. Rinse the feeder with warm water. If you see mold, add a splash of vinegar and grains of uncooked rice to the water and shake vigorously to dislodge it. Remove the vinegar and rice and rinse carefully with clean, warm water. If you see any remaining dark spots, scrub them off with a toothbrush or bottle brush.
If your hummingbird feeder is being avoided, pay attention. It's probably because your sugar solution has gone bad. Clean the feeder carefully, refill with fresh sugar-water, and offer it again.