On late summer afternoons when it’s just too hot to work in the garden, we love to sneak away for a while and enjoy a cool drink on a bench in the shade. Sitting quietly, we’re usually rewarded by sightings of hummingbirds. These tiny dynamos never fail to amaze and delight.
Although hummingbirds visit feeders stocked with sugary nectar, they seem to spend most of their time zipping among their favorite plants. Here are a few to add to your garden planning list for late summer bloom:
- Lonicera sempervirens. Unlike Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica), our native Trumpet Honeysuckle is not invasive and relatively easy to keep in bounds. Plants are covered with clusters of narrow, trumpet-shaped blooms for most of the summer. Our new favorite is ‘Major Wheeler’, which has brilliant red-orange blooms. Trumpet Honeysuckle grows best in full sun, but we’ve also seen a magnificent specimen growing on the north side of a house surrounded by Maples. It’s definitely a plant worth trying in partial shade, too.
- Monarda. Beebalm is a vigorous grower with intricate red, purple, or pink blooms. It’s a hummingbird magnet. We like to let plants duke it out with Rudbeckia and Ornamental Grasses in a border that’s allowed to look a little wild. Otherwise, plan to thin or divide Monarda after a couple of years.
- Phlox Paniculata. Garden Phlox have large, fragrant flower heads in pure white, pinks, purples, and bicolors. Each floret has a narrow throat, pretty much invisible to humans, but enticing to hummingbirds. Plants are long blooming, especially if you can take the time to remove spent blooms and encourage new buds to form. Phlox make terrific cut flowers, too.