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Naturalized Hummingbirds and the Native Plants they Love

April 15, 2010

Do two good deeds in one and have fun into the bargain by using native plants to draw hummingbirds to your garden. First, of course, you’ll enjoy the hummingbirds that feast on the nectar and the insects that love your native plants. Hundreds more insects, in fact, enjoy native plants than are attracted to cultivars. Second, native plants help return the environment to its original, pre-cultivar state, and this helps other plants and animals, including other birds.

What native plants are good for hummingbirds? Some that enjoy our climate and are relatively easy to grow are:

  • paintbrush (castillija affinis ) – flowers in spring to summer
  • red-flowered larkspur (delphinium cardinale) – flowers in summer to autumn
  • California fuchsia (epilobium canum) – flowers in autumn
  • island snapdragon (galvesia speciosa) – flowers in spring to autumn
  • heart-leafed penstemon (keckelia cordifolia) – flowers in summer to autumn
  • scarlet monkeyflower (mimulus cardimalis) – flowers in spring to autumn
  • red monkeyflower (mimulus puniceus) – flowers in spring to summer
  • chaparral currant (ribes malvaceum) – flowers in spring to summer
  • fuchsia-flowered gooseberry (ribes speciosum) – flowers in spring to autumn
  • hummingbird sage (salvia spathecea) – flowers in spring to summer

Notice that native plants don’t bloom in winter. One reason is because all hummingbirds used to migrate south in winter and the birds weren’t around for winter pollination.

There’s nothing wrong with feeding hummingbirds except that you encourage them to depend on an artificial (and often messy or even dirty) source of food.

You can rely on native plants to do all of the feeding, but then you eschew the pleasure of seeing the birds’ antics up close.

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