Red, Part II

So very ready/red-y for hummingbirds.

“I hate red,” is something I actually used to say. Didn’t like red clothes, didn’t (still don’t) like red cars, always preferred greens and silver for Christmas decor.

And I avoided growing red flowers. 

Magenta? Sure! Those lovely, jammy shades between red and purple are some of my favorites (celosia, gomphrena, cosmos). The unique red-orange of classic poppies is another one of my eye candy colors. Just no red-red. Boo to true red. Until…

Some zinnia seeds I inherited came up with red blossoms. I rather liked how they visually harmonized with the pink zinnias. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds visited that zinnia patch all day, every day.

When we moved here, my old hummingbird feeder (purchased during my red-hater days, so it’s purple) was always up by the end of May to welcome the ruby-throats. The pollinator gardens were barely established the first few years, so our yard was more pit-stop than stay-a-while for the hummers. Last year though, the buffet of blue salvias, zinnias, sweet pea, and phlox proved itself hearty enough to have two ruby-throats make claim to it, resulting in aerial chases and dramatic swoops through the yard. 

Fire Pinks explode!
Better than a stretch of poison ivy rash!

For the 2021 season, I knew I had to get over my silly aversion to the siren color of hummingbirds and just embrace RED. To roll-out the red carpet (airstrip??), I planted a row of fire pinks (Silene virginica) in the new corner bed last fall. Three cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) went in the opposite corner. I also prepped a planter of late-blooming red tulips to flag fliers in from the skies. I ordered a new feeder, this time with red ports.

This Spring, I have been watching citizen science data points on Journey North that showed hummingbirds arriving early. The feeders have been up a couple weeks now, with syrup changed every-other day. The last of the red tulips just released petals to the ground. I’ve seen just one hummingbird so far, but my anticipation is great. The fire pinks are absolutely bursting like tiny fireworks, simultaneously regal and adorable. I’ve fallen for a hot-red flower! 

It’s not too late to add a hummingbird favorite to your yard, stoop, or balcony. Here are some additional ideas for you to show hummingbirds your place is their place.

  • Cardinal vine (Ipomea sloteri): needs a trellis, protect base from nibbling rabbits
  • Fuschia: there are smaller standing varieties and larger types for hanging baskets
  • Nicotiana/flowering tobacco: I’m growing for the first time this year. Will it grow as tall as they say? Stay tuned!
  • “Cigar plant” (Cuphea ignea): in a basket, use a liner to help water retention, as it won’t like to be hot and dry
  • Bee balm (Monarda): a reliable plant to anchor your new perennial pollinator area

Keep growing!

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