Create a Hummingbird Garden in the Monterey Bay Area with California Natives

It is estimated that hummingbirds need to consume the nectar from between 1,000 to 2,000 flowers each day, taking up around 1.5 times their body mass in water each day as they feed.  Unfortunately, development and urban sprawl have caused much of the hummingbird-friendly habitat containing these nectar-producing plants to disappear all across the country and across the birds’ migration routes.

Planting a hummingbird-friendly garden can help reduce the impact of disappearing habitat.  It’s easy and will provide hours of enjoyment as you welcome these ever-active, diminutive visitors to your garden.

A hummingbird-friendly garden requires three key elements – nectar-producing flowers, insects and water.

Nectar-producing flowers

Natural nectar provides hummingbirds with a steady supply of fast energy and a balanced source of micro-nutrients.  Native plants can provide significantly more nectar than cultivated hybrids.  Native plants may also require less maintenance, less fertilizer and less water than many non-native plants.

Choose plants that hummingbirds prefer.  These are generally odorless with tubular flowers.  Red flowers are especially attractive to them, followed by oranges and pinks, purples, blues, and yellows.  Beware of exotics like bougainvillea, which only trick hummingbirds into wasting precious energy trying to drink from empty blossoms.

Group similar plants together and choose annuals and perennials with different blooming periods.  With a little planning, you will be able to provide a steady supply of flowers and nectar nearly year round.

Fill as much of your yard as possible with flowering plants, vines, shrubs, and trees.  If you do not have a garden, even a window box or hanging basket can attract hummingbirds!

Encourage your neighbors to make their yards hummingbird friendly too. An entire corridor of habitat is much more valuable than scattered patches.

Insects

Hummingbirds need protein from pollen and insects to maintain their bodies and grow new feathers.  They have specialized neck muscles that help them take insects from the air.  They also catch insects from leaves and spider webs.  In this way they can also help control some of the bugs in your garden!

Attract insects for the hummingbirds by maintaining a healthy ecosystem in your yard.  You can do this by:
Eliminating pesticides.  Spiders and insects like mosquitoes, aphids, and gnats are an important part of an adult bird’s diet, and young hummers still in the nest feed on them almost exclusively.
Planting insect-pollinated flowers as well as plants that hummingbirds pollinate.

Water

Hummingbirds like to bathe frequently, even in the pools of droplets that collect on leaves. Provide your yard with a constant source of water from a drip fountain attachment or a fine misting device.

Hummingbirds in the Monterey Bay

What kinds of hummingbird do we have in the Monterey Bay area?

Anna’s hummingbird is a year-round resident in the Monterey Bay.  The male is dark green with a red head and throat.  The female may have a few iridescent feathers on her throat, but is much less showy.

We also have three migratory hummingbirds – the black-chinned hummingbird, the rufous hummingbird and Allen’s hummingbird.  These all visit the Monterey Bay from early spring through summer.

Further Information Sources

Audubon Society:        www.audubon.org
The Hummingbird Society :     www.hummingbirdsociety.org
National Wildlife Federation:    www.nwf.org
Bauer Nancy, 2001, The Habitat Garden Book – Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region, Coyote Ridge Press
Merilees Bill, 2000, The New Gardening for Wildlife, Whitecap Books
Carroll S and Salt SD, 2004, Ecology for Gardeners, Timber Press

 

Nectar-Producing California natives for the Monterey Bay that attract hummingbirds
          Exposure Soil Moisture
Botanical name Common Name Height Flower Color Bloom Period Sun Partial shade Shade Dry Medium Wet
Perennials:
Aquilegia formosa Western columbine 15-36” Red & yellow May-Sep X X X X
Castilleja spp. Indian paintbrush 6-15” Red, orange May-Aug X X
Cirsium occidentale
Cobweb thistle 2-3’ Deep red May-Jun X X
Cynoglossum grande
Hound’s tongue To 2ft. Blue May-Apr X X X X
Delphinium cardinale Red larkspur 2-4’ Bright red May-Jun X X
Dudleya spp. Bluff Lettuce 6-8” Yellow-orange Apr-Jun X X X
Epilobium canum
California fuchsia 6-24” Red Jul-Oct X X X
Heuchera maxima Island alumroot 6-30” White-pink May-Aug X X X
Heuchera micrantha Alumroot 6-15” White or pink May-Jun X X X X
Isomeris arborea Bladderpod 2’ Yellow May-Sep X X X
Lilium pardalinum Lily 1-5’ Orange May-Aug X X X X
Penstemon heterophyllus
Meadow penstemon 6”-15” Blue–blue-pink May-Sep X X X
Penstemon spectabilis Royal penstemon 2-3’ Pink May-Sep X X X
Salvia spathacea Hummingbird sage 2-3’ Rose-pink Mar-May X X X
Satureja mimuloides Wild savory 4-6” Orange-red May-Jul X X X X
Scrophularia californica California bee plant 3-4’ Maroon Feb-Jul X X X X
Silene californica Indian pink 1’ Scarlet-red May-Jul X X X
Silene laciniata Fringed Indian pink, Catch fly, Southern Indian pink 1’ Red May-Jul X X X X
Stachys bullata Wood mint 8-12” Pink Apr-Jun X X X X
Shrubs:
Arctostaphylos spp. Manzanita species Varies White-pink Jan-Feb X X X
Chilopsis linearis
Desert willow 6-20’ Rose-lavender Jun-Jul X X X
Galvesia speciosa
Island snapdragon To 3’ Red May-Sept X X X X
Lavatera assurgentiflora Island tree mallow 4-6’ Rose-purple Feb-Dec X X X
Lepechinia calycina Pitcher sage 1-4’ Lavender Apr-Jun X X X
Lonicera involucrata Twinberry 3-10’ Yellow & red Apr-Jun X X X
Mimulus aurantiacus Sticky monkeyflower 3-5’ Orange Mar-Aug X X X X
Monardella villosa Coyote Mint 1-2’ Purple May-Jul X X X X
Ribes malvaceum Chaparral currant 10’ Pink-purple Oct-Mar X X X X
Ribes sanguineum and its many selections Pink flowering currant 10’ Pink-rose Feb-Apr X X X X
Ribes speciosum
Fuchsia-flowering currant 3-5’ Red Mar-Apr X X X X X
Salvia clevelandii Cleveland Sage 2-5’ Lavender-blue May-Aug X X
Salvia ‘Aromas’ Aromas sage 3-4’ Lavender-blue Apr-Jun X X
Salvia ‘Allen Chickering’ Allen Chickering’s sage 3-4’ Lavender-blue Apr-Jun X X
Salvia ‘Winifred Gilman’ Winifred Gilman’s sage 3-4’ Dark blue-purple Apr-Jun X X
Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’ Pozo Blue sage 3-4’ Blue-purple Apr-Jun X X
Salvia leucophylla Gray sage, Purple sage 3-4’ Light pink Apr-Jun X X
Salvia leucophylla ‘Amethyst Bluff’ Amethyst Bluff gray sage 3-4’ Dark rosy pink Apr-Jun X X
Salvia leucophylla ‘Figueroa’ Figueroa gray sage 3’ Rosy pink Apr-Jun X X
Salvia leucophylla ‘Pt Sal’ Point Sal’s gray sage 2’ Rosy-pink Apr-Jun X X
Trichostema lanatum Woolly blue curls 3-5’ Purple-blue May-Aug X X
Vaccinium ovatum Huckleberry 3-10’ White-pink Mar-May X X X
Vines:
Lonicera hispidula Honeysuckle 8’ White May X X X X