Keeping Hummingbirds Happy for Winter
In the PNW it’s easy to keep hummingbirds fed during the warm months, but fall and winter can be more challenging. Here on the Eastside we have Anna’s Hummingbirds, which no longer migrate during the winter. It is very important that if you start feeding hummers in the fall, you continue to feed them through the entire winter or else they may starve. In this post we’ll cover how to keep them content with both feeders and smart plant choices. Luckily, we also like plants that hummingbirds like!
Let’s start with hummingbird feeders. It is a good idea to have two feeders that you can rotate. If one freezes overnight you can easily swap it daily with a thawed feeder. Additionally, feeders should be washed at least once a week to prevent fungal and bacteria growth.
We’ll break up the plants into 2 groups, those that bloom until the first frost, and those that are true winter bloomers. Ideal fall perennials include hardy Salvia, Aster, Phlox, Fuchsia, and Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). Our nursery favorite is the hardy golden Fuchsia magellanica, which blooms all the way into November. Aptly, it is also commonly known as Hummingbird Fuchsia.
Plants that bloom during the dark winter days of November through February are a welcome treat! Some of our favorites for hummers include late blooming Mahonia hybrids, such as M. ‘Charity’ and ‘Winter Sun’ and Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’, Viburnum x bodnantense, single flowered Winter Camellia (C. sasanqua) cultivars like ‘Apple Blossom’ and ‘Yuletide’, Winter Daphne (Daphne odora), and Sweet Box (Sarcococca). Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) and Grevillea victoriae are harder to find, but are also well worth the search. Witch hazels feature red, yellow, and orange flowers, while Grevillea blooms a bright red. Both are great winter fodder for hummers, and provide exceptional interest for humans too!