If I had to pick one plant, shrub, or flower to have, and no other, it would be Hibiscus syriacus. It is most often referred to as Rose of Sharon, or hardy Hibiscus, or just Hibiscus.
My grandparents had Rose of Sharon bushes when I was a young child, and you could always count on seeing Hummingbirds on them.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, but they will go to just about any color of flower. Many Rose of Sharon flowers have a red or pink center. They are available in a wide array of colors now, and more are being developed all the time. They can be purchased all ready to be planted in your yard or garden, or you can buy seeds.
They can be considered a large shrub, or small tree. With pruning, you can keep them at a more manageable size. When we first move to our home, there was one already growing, and we saw as many as 7 Hummingbirds at once on it. Since then, we have planted another one, and have had several that have come up from seeds.
Wow, wish we had them here.
We have a slew of Annas visiting all year, but this fall I saw a very pretty Allen's trying to nose into the feeder. He flew with a lovely spread of tail features.
Thanks. I agree, they are certainly worth having, with or without the little hummers.
Very beautiful article. Your flower selection is wonderful and worth having in your garden regardless of the hummingbirds being available or not.
Thanks for the great information on the butterfly bush. Wasn't aware of that. I might have to give Pineapple sage a try. We also have Hibiscus moscheutos (a pink and white variety), it is extremely cold hardy, as we set a record for cold in our area the winter before last, and it didn't harm it a bit.
I've had good luck attracting hummingbirds to my garden with monarda species...there are several different species with different colors. Another plant you might consider is Pineapple Sage--if you live in a warmer climate, although I had it bloom overwinter in Delaware. If you live farther south, it'll bloom when hummingbirds are still around. It also makes a delicious herbal tea.
I recommend against people planting butterfly bush--it's beautiful, and it does attract / support pollinators from its nectar, but it can be an ecological trap for butterflies--it attracts the adults but none of their larvae can survive on it. See: http://insects.about.com/b/2010/05/25...
I think it's important to plant native plants when possible. Hummingbirds tend to do better with nectar from non-native flowers, but insects fare less well--and hummingbirds do depend on eating insects too, especially when raising their nestlings. That's why I think monarda sp. are a great choice--they are native, AND they also make a delicious herbal tea. There is even one species of Monarda, wild bergamot, that smells so similar to the bergamot orange that if you mix it with black tea, it tastes very similar to Earl Grey tea.
If you have a wet area in your yard, I've also found hummingbirds love jewelweed--it grows in area with consistently wet soil.
I also love hibiscus flowers...I recommend Hibiscus moscheutos (Rose Mallow) as a native option! It is very cold hardy, growing well into Canada, and it also thrives in wet areas.
You know how much fun they can be to watch then. We use feeders to, but I guess we like to give them a smorgasbord. That is a good point about them going to any color of flower. They also visit a wide variety of flower types. But they do seem to have their favorites.
Since I don't yet have many flowering plants in my yard, I put out a hummingbird feeder the first week of May and have it full all summer. I usually see a couple of birds that visit it all day long. I've noticed that hummingbirds visit many types of flowers and they don't have to be red.