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The Rules of Attraction

With a little planning, you and your garden can provide food for hummingbirds from spring to fall.

Beating their wings 80 times per second and weighing in at less than a nickel, the ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only hummingbirds east of the Mississippi River. By growing some of the plants below, your garden can provide vital nutrients for these amazing birds.

Spring plants

  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Summer plants

  • Bee balm (Monarda)
  • Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Canna lilies
  • Cardinal flower
  • (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Coral bells (Heuchera)
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea)
  • Lantana (Lantana)
  • Penstemon (Penstemon)
  • Phlox (Phlox)
  • Salvia (Salvia)
  • Verbena (Verbena)

Feeders can help to supplement hummingbirds' nutrition when there is no nectar available. Be sure to change the sugar water in your feeders every three to four days, and keep them outside until the end of September so that the birds can store enough energy to successfully complete their migration south to Mexico and Panama.

--Carolyn Black, Penn State Extension Master Gardener