From March to May, the skies above the southern and western United States become a flyway for millions of ruby-throated, rufous, broad-tailed, and black-chinned hummingbirds, as well as hummingbirds of other species. Gardeners can do the migrating birds a favor by planting nectar-rich flowers that bloom during their migration. Many of these plants are as eye-catching as they are hummingbird-friendly.
Weigela "Dropmore Pink"
Blooming from March to June, weigela (Weigela florida) "Dropmore Pink" is a 4- to 6-foot high and wide, sun-loving deciduous shrub. Its deep green, elliptical leaves make a striking contrast with trumpet-shaped, rosy pink blooms that have hummingbirds flocking to the garden. This appealing shrub border or foundation plant likes averagely fertile and moist, well-drained soil, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Equally attractive as a climbing vine or ground cover, coral honeysuckle (Lonerica sempervirens) has shiny, green leaves. Its red-and-yellow, trumpet-like blooms appear between March and June in woodlands throughout the eastern and southern United States. The flowers occur in clusters at the end the plant's stems. Red berries follow them, bringing an extended season of garden interest. A hummingbird, butterfly and bee favorite, coral honeysuckle reaches up to 20 feet long. This vine performs best in rich, well-drained soil. Susceptible to powdery mildew, it benefits from a location with good air circulation.
Eastern Red Columbine
Even shade gardens will wink with the jeweled gleam of hummingbird feathers when they contain eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Standing up to 24 inches high, these delicate perennials have cheery red-and yellow-blooms with nectar-laden spurs. The flowers nod on slender stems above clumps of airy, three-lobed green leaves. Flowering as early as February and as late as July, Eastern red columbine loves partial to deep shade and moderately fertile, limestone-rich soil. Acidic or neutral soils (pH no higher than 7.2) are best, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia var. pavia), also called firecracker plant, grows as a shrub or small tree. Common throughout the southeastern woods, this buckeye has toothed, divided elliptical green leaves. The foliage emerges as purple before becoming green. From March to May, red buckeye lights spring woods with brilliant red, tubular blooms that are up-to-1.5 inches. Upright flower clusters that attract ruby-throated hummingbirds may be as high as 10 inches, according to the Floridata website. The red buckeye is happiest in moist, neutral to alkaline soil and partial to full shade. Ingesting this shrub's new shoots or seeds is toxic.