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Hummingbirds are Pollinators

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
Hummingbirds are Pollinators

hummingbird from Julie Stagg.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian


“Like the hummingbird sipping nectar from every flower, I fly joyfully through my days, seeing beauty in everything.”– Amethyst Wyldfyre


After tucking a hibiscus plucked from my mother’s garden behind my ear, I was immediately the object of desire for a hungry hummer. The iridescent red crown identified the hovering nectar hunter as a male Anna’s hummingbird. The females and young have green crowns. What a photo op, but alas, no camera or iPhone in sight. 

Of the known 331 species of hummingbirds, 27 types are found in the United States, and 14 reside in California. Hummers only live in North and South America. When most people think of pollinators, bees, butterflies, bats, beetles, birds, and moths may come to mind. Yet, hummingbirds are some of the greatest pollinators as they can visit one to three thousand flowers in a single day. As they whiz from flower to flower, pollen from the stamen sticks to their long bills and forehead as they feed. They prefer plants with tubular-shaped flowers and many plants have evolved (some with the help of human intervention) to be more attractive to hummingbirds with brighter colors, higher nectar counts, and daylight blooms. Because they have long, slim bills, hummingbirds can feed deep into chambers and cannulas that bees or other pollinators cannot reach. They also eat tiny insects and spiders that are detrimental to flower beds and vegetable gardens. 

Hummingbird Paradise.jpeg

Native and navitar plants that are red, blue, orange, yellow, and purple are favorites. What is the difference between native and navitar plants? 

• highly adapted to the climate and soil they are naturally growing in
• requires less babying (within their particular climate) than non-natives
• promotes biodiversity throughout your garden
• naturally resistant to local pests
• attract beneficial pollinators


• combination of the words ‘native’ and ‘cultivar’ (result of careful selection and crossbreeding by humans)
• wider variety of flower colors, shapes & forms
• incorporate different sizes of plant
• heightened insect or disease resistance
• select preferred hardiness
• main concern for – and argument against – is their lack of genetic diversity

Plants Attractive to Hummingbirds








Penstemon (beardtongue)

Bee balm

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Cardinal flower

Blazing star

Garden phlox



Oregon grape




Flowering quince

Trumpet vine

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Trumpet honeysuckle

Bleeding Heart

Butterfly bush

Cardinal Flower


Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon-Hibiscus syriacus.jpeg



Purple Rhododendron


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Red hot poker (torch lily)





Pink Bower Vine

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Hummingbirds remain in landscapes that provide all the supplies they need to survive and thrive. Besides planting species that will feed them, there are other things you can do to encourage hummingbirds to hang around.

Bathing Fountain: Due to the sticky nature of the nectar, hummingbirds need to bathe frequently. They prefer running water in a shallow area. Bubbling fountains or misters are an important investment in their healthcare. They even will frequent sprinklers!

Nests: Hummingbirds do not nest in birdhouses. They build tiny, usually around 1 inch in diameter, nests camouflaged with lichen, moss, and spider webs. This makes them hard to discover. They can be 3-60 feet from the ground and sometimes as much as ½ mile from their favorite food sources. 

Feeders: Place feeders in areas where you’ll be able to watch the frenzy. It’s best to have multiple feeders to reduce territoriality. Hang them high enough to be safe from cats or predators which include snakes, squirrels, and larger birds. Recommended height is at least 4 feet from the ground. 

Crocosmia , firecracker, roses,.jpeg

Recipe for homemade nectar:

*Boil 4 quarts of water and let it cool. Tap water is fine. Do not use distilled water.

*Dissolve 1 cup cane or beet sugar in the cooled water. Do not use any other type of sugar, artificial sweetener, or honey. 

*Fill feeder ¾ full or however much is used within a few days.

*Store unused remainder in a closed container in the refrigerator for a week.

Maintenance of feeders: It is important to change the mixture every 4-5 days. If the weather exceeds 90 degrees, the nectar will ferment. Change it more often if it gets cloudy. Clean feeders between refilling without topping off. Many feeders can be safely sanitized in the dishwasher. Otherwise, use mild detergent, wash, and rinse thoroughly. Monthly sterilize the feeders in a solution of bleach and water. 

Other Tips: To entertain all pollinators, maintain an organic landscape free of pesticides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers. Your garden is their dinner table, and their daily dining provide the ingredients for your dinner table. 

Indigo daylily.jpeg

My garden is buzzing with every type of pollinator. As I sit in my office writing this article, a beautiful, black-chinned hummingbird with its shimmering purple and white collar was busy outside my window investigating my roses. Again, I couldn’t get an appropriate photo through the window screen and shutter, but the visit was enchanting. 

See the beauty in everything and thrill to the metallic humming of the wings of these living hovercrafts. Fly joyfully through your day!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1610/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Humming-along.html 

Cynthia Brian ferns-roses.jpeg

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpgHire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



Hang Time! by Cynthia Brian

Posted by Editor on
Hang Time! by Cynthia Brian

“Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.”
  — Marion Zimmer Bradley,
greens of hostas
Fruit, luscious, juicy, tantalizing ripe fruit! There is no better nor satisfying delicacy than the fruit you grow in your own backyard. Whether it’s a pot or a plot, growing your own is the way the rock it! With our long warm summer days at their height, fruit and vegetables are ripening quickly awaiting plucking for our feasts. Apricots, plums, prunes, mulberries, loquats, tangelos, and tangerines are just a few of the gems hanging from my trees right now. Soon there will be mouth-watering peaches, pears, apples, guavas, nectarines, and figs. Tomatoes have taken up the space left by harvested greens, while beans, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatillos are racing to the finish line. It’s a virtual Farmer’s Market in my garden and this is exactly the way I like to eat. Every day I walk into my potager to fill baskets with crunchy deliciousness for our supper. I never know what I’ll be creating in the kitchen until I see what’s ready to harvest.

I continue to sprinkle lettuce and arugula seeds in the empty spaces to extend my summer, fall and winter crops. My recommendation is to sow rows of bush beans, carrots, and radishes or any other vegetable every three weeks to satisfy your cravings for freshness. Remember to continue to replenish the soil with nutrient rich compost to keep productivity high.
delivering wood chips
Did you know that that average home gardener only spends $359 per year on gardening supplies and plants as reported in a study conducted by Money.com? That seems ridiculously low when you consider that growing your own tomatoes will save you an average $9.50, cucumbers $8.00, peppers $3.60, green beans $2.50, and carrots $3.50.  And that doesn’t include the spectacular taste, increased vitamins, and the fact that you actually know what you put into your soil!  When it comes to homegrown fruits and vegetables, I am a garden to table snob. The finest, healthiest, most cost efficient source of nutrients is waiting for you in the garden. Dig in!

With the barbeque season in full swing, delight guests with grilled stone fruit. Cut peaches, nectarines, or apricots in half, remove the pit, brush with olive oil and drizzle a bit of honey. Grill for a minute or two on each side. Serve with goat cheese, arugula, or as a side dish. Fresh, surprising, and oh, so delicious…a burst of sweetness with your 4th of July fare. About those pits…if you want another fruit tree, plant in potting soil in a container and watch the new life grow. It’s hang time.

nectarines on flatbread
Cynthia Brian’s Fresh Ideas for July

MULCH before the heat of summer begins. If you can use an entire truck-load of wood chips, tree service companies are happy to give you free chips. Mulching keeps the soil cooler while decreasing the weed population.

COMBINE arugula, mint, and sage in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and pepper for a mouth-watering variation on traditional pesto. Add the grated cheese of your choice to use over pastas, in soups, or whirled in an omelet.

HYDRATE yourself with fruits from the garden including watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and corn. A slice of watermelon provides you with at least ten ounces of water while a medium peach will give you five ounces of H20.

RELIEVE anxiety and stress by cutting a bouquet of lavender, then crushing the flowers in your palms. Inhale the healing fragrance before bed for a restful slumber.
king snake in garden2
WATCH for snakes! Gopher snakes and King snakes have been slithering through my grass. Don’t be alarmed, snakes eradicate rodents including gophers, moles, rats, and mice.

SHOWCASE your horticultural talents by mixing textures, colors, and sizes in your garden, always being away of water, sunlight, and soil PH needs. A lemon-lime nandina paired with a black adder phormium and a purple salvia are spectacular bedmates.

PEPPER your garden by throwing seeds of Love in a Mist and California poppies. The colors look smashing together and both re-seed. Plus Love in a Mist seedpods make fantastic dried flowers.

WANT a lush landscape? Embrace the beauty of leaves. Foliage plants have dramatic impact, especially when grouped together. Hosta, heuchera, coleus, and variegated plants are showstoppers, specifically in shaded areas.

PLANT gladioli bulbs for summer drama with long stalks of trumpet shaped florets that are considered hummingbird heaven.
COVER an unsightly fence with clematis. Read the tags to learn the correct sun exposure, then let the explosion of blooms blow your mind. Clematis make great cut flowers too.

TUCK succulents in between other plantings. Most succulents shoot up spires of blooms as an added bonus. Of course, succulents are very drought tolerant and an excellent choice for our gardens. To get a better idea of the variety of succulents that fare well in our area, visit The Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek.

GRILL vegetables (as well as stone fruit) on the barbecue. A variety of zucchini, peppers, and corn are always excellent choices. Don’t shuck the husks on the corn to keep the nutrients and flavor inside. Slip basil or cilantro inside for added flavor.

THINK about what bulbs and rhizomes you will want to buy to plant in the fall. Do you want more daffodils, tulips, Dutch iris, anemones, or something more exotic? Catalogues are a great way to get your lists started.

THANKS to everyone who has emailed me with positive notes about these columsn. I do appreciate all of my readers and want you to be the best gardeners ever!

CELEBRATE the Fourth of July by dressing up in your sparkly red, white, and blue to HANG out in your personal paradise.

Let the fireworks fly! Happy 240th Independence Day.
purple clematis
Happy gardening. Happy growing!

See more

Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Garden and plant consultations by appointment.

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