How to Attract Beautiful Hummingbirds to Your Garden

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It's almost hummingbird time! The most remarkable birds in the world (at least in our view) may be feeling the impact of climate change, and, happily, we can help. Around this time of year, these little beauties fly several hundred miles over the Gulf of Mexico, without food water or rest, in their “commute” north from their southern wintering grounds. They naturally strive to time their arrival to coincide the nectar-rich blooms they need to survive. But with climate patterns shifting it’s likely harder for the little guys to time it just right, according to the Audubon Society.

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So what can homeowners in DC, MD, VA do to help them out?

Any or all of these three things:

1. Help scientists get a better feel for the current state of play and sign up with Audubon’s new citizen science project to document hummingbird sightings, as well as the plants that feed them.

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2. Keep hummingbirds in mind as you garden this Spring by planting perennials with deep-throated flowers.  Among them: four gorgeous natives--trumpet honeysuckle (lonicera sempervirens), beebalm (mondarda didyma), red columbine (aquilegia canadense), and coral bells (heuchera sanguinea) All are currently available at the beltway location of American Plant. And avoid pesticides. Hummingbirds also rely on spiders and other small insects, and if the pesticides are in the bugs, they’ll accumulate in the birds, too.

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Here are examples of the 4 gorgeous, native perennials that attract hummingbirds to gardens in

Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. 

3. Set up a hummingbird feeder. Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology has these tips:

Use a solution of four parts water, one part white granulated sugar (don’t use brown sugar or honey). No need to add red food dye—they’ll come without it. Keep it clean! Take it down scrub it once a week—no need to use soap. The best way to actually follow through on this is to choose a feeder that’s easy to take apart. This one has an ant trap and is really easy to disassemble.  

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and new content.