Salvia & Hummingbirds with Mike Darcy

May 19, 2018

In my garden, hummingbirds and Salvia seem to go together. Hummingbirds have long been a favorite bird of mine and Salvia a favorite flower, so each spring I plant Salvia to attract hummingbirds. At one time, I thought the flowers needed to be red or orange to attract them, but I have learned that is not true. Actually, I am not even sure if hummingbirds have a favorite color!

Each spring I buy Salvia plants for pots on our deck and often times the plants will be in bud or bloom at the time of purchase. I try to select those Salvias that will bloom throughout the summer and into the fall. It is fun to try different varieties and I almost always buy at least one new Salvia variety to try. However, there are some that I consider my traditional varieties that I would not be without. Here are some of my favorite Salvias that I have discovered to be good hummingbird attractants and will also provide flowers for most of the summer and fall season.

Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ is one such favorite and is a traditional plant that I always have on our deck. I usually put three plants in a large pot and often will have two pots of ‘Black and Blue’. By keeping the old flower stems cut so the flowers do not produce seed, this Salvia will bloom continuously all summer. Several years ago I discovered a new, to me, variety called ‘Amistad’ which is similar in growth and blooming habit as ‘Black and Blue’ but the flowers are more purple than blue. ‘Saucy Red’ was another new Salvia and I found it to be a beautiful flower with a sort of burnt red color. ‘Saucy Red’ is much more vigorous in growth than ‘Black and Blue’ and I would suggest that it would be better in the ground than a pot because of its’ size.

Pineapple sage has always been a late flowering Salvia in my garden. I love the pineapple aroma of the leaves when they are crushed, and while the blooming season is late, it is worth waiting for. The flowers are scarlet and I have always had the plants come into full bloom in late summer and early fall. It does very well in pots and provides some wonderful color in the autumn garden.

I mix an organic fertilizer such as blood meal or cottonseed meal into the potting soil at the time of planting. Salvias need good drainage and if your plants are going into the ground and if your soil does not drain well, I would suggest adding some pumice or perlite of time of planting.

There are many more Salvias to chose from than what I have mentioned. However if growing Salvia is new to you and hummingbirds are a bird you want to attract, the above-mentioned Salvias would be a good start. Select a sunny location as with too much shade they will produce lots of foliage but few flowers.

There is a good selection of Salvia plants at Wilco and this is an excellent time to plant. Try a few plants on a deck or patio and be rewarded with flowers all summer. We find it delightful to sit on our deck on a summer evening and watch the hummingbirds in action.

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