Hummingbird Plants for Saskatchewan Gardeners:
By Lyndon Penner


Ruby-throated hummingbirds travel through Saskatchewan twice a year; on their spring migration in mid to late May, and on their fall migration in mid to late August through September. Hummingbirds are really forest birds; they travel up to the boreal forest for the summer and that’s where they nest! This is why our customers up north can get them within moments of hanging up a feeder! Folks in towns and cities can indeed get a visit from them, but unless your yard and your neighbour’s yard is FULL of flowers, they usually won’t stick around too long. Hummingbird feeders should be high quality (cheap ones leak and thus attract tons of ants and wasps) and should be hung in a sheltered area. The only thing safe to feed hummingbirds is pure sugar; do not give them honey, Splenda, 7Up, or anything else! (*People have done so and made hummingbirds sick.) Make sure the solution in the feeder is not allowed to spoil or go rancid. Please also be aware that when gardening for hummingbirds, it is important to use single flowered forms rather than double flowered forms; doubles rarely yield nectar. A good example is petunias- while hummingbirds love the single flowered forms, double flowered forms are useless to them.
It is also important to have flowers for as long as possible. Try to make sure that you have flowers in bloom from the time they arrive in mid May to the time that they leave in mid September. If they run out of flowers (re: food) they’ll go elsewhere! Be sure to plant a wide variety of flowers that will bloom over a long period. Please do not allow your cat outdoors unsupervised, as they are known to be significant killers of hummingbirds.


Annuals and bedding plants for hummingbirds: Salvia, four o Clock (Mirabilis jalapa), petunia, fuchsias (there are excellent basket and container types such as ‘Display’ or ‘Lena’ but there are also upright types such as ‘Gartenmeister’ and ‘Thalia’ that are equally superb) Lavatera, Agastache (there are many kinds), morning glory, mimulus, snapdragon, gladiolus, nasturtium, scarlet runner bean, tithonia, cosmos, nicotiana.


Perennials for hummingbirds: Columbine, coral bells (especially the red flowered cultivars such as ‘Firefly’, bee balm (red flowered cultivars are great but the purples and pinks are also excellent) delphinium, penstemon, hollyhock, hosta, fireweed, and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).


Trees and shrubs for hummingbirds: Weigela (‘Centennial’ and ‘Minuet’ are by far the hardiest in our climate. ‘Red Prince’ and some of the more tender ones can be tried in a sheltered spot), honeysuckle (either the shrubs or the vines; both attract hummers), any fruit trees including apples, crabapples, plums, Nanking cherry, and pears, azaleas and rhododendrons (difficult to grow in Sask. but the ‘Northern Lights’ series and the Finnish rhododendrons are hardiest), and lilacs.