The summer heat and dry conditions make us wonder… what the heck can I plant that will help the hummingbirds and the butterflies? And of course, it has to be something that is easy to take care of.
I have found that the Coral Honeysuckle Vine and the Flame Acanthus bush fit the bill. Both are visited by butterflies and hummers. A two-for-one deal.
The Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a climbing vine that can also grow as a ground cover. It is ever blooming in some years. It likes sandy loams, clay, and poor soils.
How much better can it get? You can grow it in the full sun or part shade. It goes great on an arbor or on a fence like I have it.
By the way, this is not the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle.
The next plant that loves our summers is the Flame Acanthus bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus). It’s extremely drought tolerant , gets no diseases, and is easy to grow. Again both hummers and butterflies like it.
This bush will die down in the winter. Cut it back in the spring before it starts to green up.
Both of these are great plants for hot and dry conditions. They need no fertilizers and little water once established.
Be adaptable and watch what your garden and wildlife like. Then your garden will be successful in an ever changing world.
I hope you will always see the wonder and beauty in nature.
by Donna Lewis (with additional photos by Sue Ann Kendall)
Anywhere I look I have baby birds right now, which is a wonderful thing for a naturalist. Who could be bored right now with so many little creatures to look at?
On our front porch we have a nest with five tiny Eastern Phoebes. They are fly-catchers and love things with wings.
This morning mama tried to force a giant beetle down her youngest daughter and I thought for awhile I might have to preform the Hine-lick procedure…
Then in my Blue-bird houses I have five babies in one house and six babies in another. Again, bugs are on the menu. This year the Blue-birds decided to run off the Purple Martins so they could use their perch to look for predators near their houses.
Over in our barn I have a nest of baby Carolina Wrens in a bucket that was hanging on the wall. If you have never seen a wren baby you would not believe how tiny they are. They are the cutest little things ever. There are only three babies.
Up in the oak trees about 18 feet high we have some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Now talk about a tiny house. You can barely see it. It is wrapped in moss and is very concealed.
There are ton’s of Cardinal nests everywhere. They eat bugs and from my feeders. I have them year round. They are regulars here.
Then at last my beautiful Purple Martins, who came very late this year, are starting to lay their eggs finally. That unfortunately will cause the babies to mature during the hottest time of the year.
I have seven nests with eggs and more that have not started yet. I have the fewest Martins than ever at this site. There are many potential reasons for this, and it’s hard to determine for sure.
But the ones I do have sing to me, and it’s all worth the trouble.
Nature is everywhere you are. All you have to do is look.
It is getting hot every day now, so it is important to remember a few tips for our smallest bird friends. They need fresh water just like every living thing.
My hummers like to fly though a small sprinkler that I put out just for them every afternoon around 5:30 pm. I place it under a tree for shade and a sense of security. They cool down and get a bath at the same time. It’s fun to see them play.
We also need to remember that hot weather will make the sugar water ferment very fast. So, clean and put out new nectar in the feeders at least every 3 to 4 days. Sugar water should be 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
Native plants are actually the best food for them. They also like little bugs for protein. Their favorite plant here at my place is the Coral Honeysuckle I have on a fence. They spend more time drinking from its tubular flowers than drinking from the feeders.
Its good to place the feeders under some shade if you can. This keeps the sugar water from getting so hot.
Right now the males are doing their courtship dance. A high deep dive in a U shape pattern in front of a potential bride..
Yesterday, many of us mentioned hearing and seeing hummingbirds in the tree tops, gardens, and at some feeders. Today, just after noontime, this hummingbird posed for the camera. Enjoy the short narrative as to what happened.
I looked out the window and saw a hummingbird at the feeder. I grabbed the big camera and went outside, somewhat hidden, and stayed motionless for 15 minutes or so.
It was still raining off and on, pleasantly mild, thundering, all foliage was wet. The hummingbird sat on a tiny branch on a large Crape Myrtle tree next to the feeder. Did he see me? Most likely! So it was standoff. I stayed motionless and was not going to move, no matter what was itching or biting me. This went on for many minutes; it seemed like forever.
Big raindrops began to fall again. A couple of Carolina Wrens landed in the same tree. The hummingbird was aggravated with them and chased them off. I waited a few more minutes, raindrops more frequent. Then, the hummingbird made his move.
My camera clicked rapidly at the fast-moving target. I wondered, “What type of hummingbird are you, who are you?” I asked repeatedly.
Then, after feeding a couple of times at the left feeder, he came right at me to the camera. I zoomed the lens back, he positioned himself in the upright position, and revealed his identity, proclaiming, “I am back.”
Then he went to the second feeder to feed. Welcome home, Ruby Red-throated Hummer.