The sight of a hummingbird is a joy for children and adults alike. Some cultures view them as a symbol of happiness, and it’s easy to see why! The acrobatics of these tiny pollinators are sure to make you smile. Give your kids the fun challenge of attracting more of these little beauties into your life!
The Hummingbird Garden
Installing a hummingbird feeder may be an obvious first step, but sugar water is not the best for their health, and you have to change it often to keep it mold-free. Planting a hummingbird garden is much more fun. Your kids can learn to grow the amazing flowers our hummingbirds depend on. Here are our best tips for success:
- Choose a site in view of a window so your kids can watch for visitors.
- Choose flowers with the most nectar, not the biggest blossoms. Plants like Bee Balm, Trumpet Honeysuckle, and Red Snapdragon are loaded with the good stuff, as are many other tubular flowers.
- Select native plants to Illinois, which our wild hummingbirds know and love, such as the Cardinal Flower, Crossvine, Royal Catchfly, and Red Columbine.
- Plant groups of three or more of the same flower to provide more food.
- Grow a variety of species that bloom in the early, mid- and late season so that the hummingbirds have constant sources of food.
- Hummingbirds love red flowers—if our earlier selections didn’t give it away! They also go for orange and pink blossoms, like hummingbird mint, and sometimes indulge in other plants that are rich in nectar, like Black and Blue Anise Sage.
Paint it Red
Give hummingbirds an extra reason to visit and your kids a chance to work on some garden crafts! Encourage them to decorate your plain terracotta pots with hummingbirds’ favorite color, paint garden stones in ladybug red, make scarlet dragonflies out of twist-ties, or hang a few origami robins around the yard! Let kids imagine themselves as hungry hummingbirds to look for the best places to show off their art.
Make a Perch
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism in the animal kingdom. They beat their wings 12-80 times per second and fly as fast as 34 miles per hour—but sometimes they like to rest. An exposed dead branch gives them a lookout to protect their flowers from rivals and watch for predators. If unavailable, let your kids craft a charming hummingbird swing. Attach an arch of wire over a piece of pencil-thin wood. Ask your kids to decorate it with red gems, ribbons, or beads, and hang it with string from a branch with good views.
Install a Birdbath
Hummingbirds love to preen their feathers with a splash of water. Sometimes the dew on a leaf is enough. They also love to fly through a garden mister, just like your kids on a summer day. But installing a birdbath can give them an extra treat! This classic landscape feature adds a touch of magic to your yard and attracts other birds and butterflies to your garden. Task kids with refilling, cleaning, and monitoring the birdbath, much like they would for a family pet.
The garden season is just getting underway! Let our online catalog inspire you with ideas for your hummingbird garden or any new landscaping project, and please contact us if you have more questions. Hummingbirds are just a few of our favorite things to discuss!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.