I have never taken a poll, but I would imagine most people will go through a whole year without seeing a hummingbird. For those who do see them, it is typically an isolated event – right place, right time. Well, not to brag, but I can see as many as six in a half hour. And most days I do
A lot of plants are labeled “hummingbird magnets”. Large home improvement stores to mom-n-pop nurseries will have these must have plants throughout their inventory. But one stands above them all for hummingbirds. It is salvia.
There are several varieties of salvia, and most will work to draw hummingbirds to your garden. The one I have had the most success with is the Salvia Black and Blue. This particular plant can be purchased at any large improvement store for as low as $8 per plant.
When planting salvia, I recommend no less than a three foot circumference to the nearest plant. As you can see in the photo below, black and blue develops into a bushy plant. Very full and robust. Plant it in an area where it will receive an abundance of sun throughout the day, and in soil that drains well. This is not a plant that will thrive in overly wet soil, so avoid low laying areas in your garden, at the exit of a downspout or in a location where runoff from the roof will oversaturate the plant.
The most important thing is to plant salvia in a highly visible area. I suggest off a patio or porch. Hummingbirds are not overly timid, and will come within a few feet of people to feed at a salvia plant. I have a chair on my front porch pointed directly at my salvia plant. Nothing like the brrrrr sound of a hummingbird’s wings as he pulls up to the bush and starts feeding
Salvia is hardy, meaning it can take low winter temps in most planting zones. Salvia can be slow to start in the spring. Be patient with it each year, however, if you do not see new growth in mid-May chances are good your plant did not survive the winter.
Salvia has a black-blue trumpet shaped bloom that lures hummingbirds in. Blooms appear in June and can continue blooming all the way into September. These blooms will often drop after a hard storm or wind, but in no time new blooms will appear.
One of best features of salvia it that it is a low maintenance plant. It requires little to no attention. just plant and stay out of the way! The plant doesn’t require deadheading and as noted earlier, isn’t in need of watering too often. It is suggested to cut the plant back to about 6” above soil once blooming season is over (fall)
So next year, buy a couple Salvia in mid-April, get them in the ground and enjoy countless hours of hummingbirds bouncing around!