Q. Which plants will attract hummingbirds to my garden?
A. Hummingbirds are but one of the many migratory species of birds that pass through the Chicago area in May, as they fly north, and then again in fall, as they fly south. To encourage these birds to visit your garden in both seasons, and possibly even nest there, you should plant the flowers that give them maximum nectar they can convert to energy. Since they also eat insects, gardeners are advised not to spray their plants with insecticides.
Once hummingbirds find their favorite plants in your garden, they will spend days there foraging for food. In early May, before many annuals are in full bloom, gardeners can establish specific hummingbird feeders. The birds will also visit trees or shrubs that flower early in the season and can often be seen perching high in trees or telephone wires. Weigela, red buckeye and rhododendron flowers will attract them, as will honeysuckle and trumpet creeper vines. Hummingbirds' long beaks are perfectly suited for tubular flowers, especially those in tones of red, orange, blue or purple. Try beebalm, morning glory, blue and red lobelia, fragrant flowering tobacco plants or hanging baskets of verbena, fuchsia and lantana.