Bird watching offers relaxation for the gardener. Hummingbirds hold special fascination for people as the tiny little birds dart around in search of food. The small birds require high-protein food to maintain their energy level. They receive their nutrients from plant nectar. The relationship for the hummingbird and the plant is symbiotic in nature. The bird receives its daily food, and in exchange it transfers pollen among the flowers.
The foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, produces long flower-spikes that tower up to 5 feet in height. Numerous small, tubular flowers appear along one side of the long stem in shades of purple and white with speckling. Each flower measures 2 inches in length. The plant blooms during its second year of life. Normally, grown as a biennial, it is often considered to be a perennial in ideal locations. The plant thrives in moist soil with full or partial shade. It spreads rapidly through seed production. It does not tolerate drought well and requires moist soil conditions. Foxgloves attract an abundance of hummingbirds, but pollination generally occurs from bees, according to Floridata.
Hummingbird mint, Agastache sp., is considered an ideal plant to attract hummingbirds to any garden, according to Audubon at Home. The plant offers drought resistance with abundant summertime flower production. Currently, there are 30 varieties available. All produce soft gray foliage with tubular pink, purple and red flowers arranged along a spike that stands up to 24 inches tall. The plant tolerates a wide range of soils that are well-draining. Plant in full sunlight for abundant flower production.
Beebalm, Monarda didyma, grows up to 4 feet in height from a spreading stolon root base. The plants form large clumps. Red flowers are produced that have bristly, reddish brackets for petals. The flowers are widely attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, according to Floridata. Plant beebalm in full sunlight to partial shade for best results. The plant enjoys fertile soil that is high in humus. The plant requires moist soil to thrive and will not tolerate drought conditions. During the winter months, the foliage of the plant is killed to the ground but quickly returns in the spring.
The firecracker plant, Russelia equisetiformis, grows approximately 4 feet in height with long, reed-like stems. Abundant hanging clusters of bright red tubular flowers are produced from spring to fall. The plant easily attracts hummingbirds, according to the Botanical Journeys Plant Guide. Plant in full sunlight to encourage best flowering. The plant enjoys fertile soil. It grows well from hanging baskets for patio planting. The firecracker plant requires tropical conditions to come back year after year. It is exceptionally drought tolerant.