Add This Plant To Your Garden And Watch The Hummingbird Magic Happen

Hummingbirds truly are fascinating to watch; it's no wonder so many bird-watching enthusiasts hope to catch a glimpse of their jewel-colored feathers and curious movements. But how do you attract hummingbirds into your garden in the first place? The best way is to provide a buffet of flowers for them to feed from. They're not into just any old shrub or perennial, though. Firebush (Hamelia patens) is the perfect example of a plant you can add to your garden that was made to attract hummingbirds.

Firebush is a tropical plant that prefers warmer climates, making it highly resilient in heat and drought situations. For this reason, it is popular as a low-maintenance plant with easy care that provides plenty of food for all kinds of different pollinators and other beneficial insects. It's also perfect for adding fiery color to your landscape, in addition to being a playground for hummingbirds to entertain you and enrich your garden.

Why are hummingbirds attracted to firebush?

Hummingbirds are attracted to red blooms, which is why firebush is great at luring them into your garden — their many red flowers act like beacons to draw hummingbirds in. This is partly because vision has to make up for a lack of sense of smell, so hummingbirds often look towards color for information about potential flowers to feed from rather than hunting via scent like other pollinators. The retinas of a hummingbird's eyes have a dense concentration of cones that increases sensitivity to yellow to red shades and dulls opposing colors like green and blue. This is evolutionarily beneficial, as red flowers tend to reinforce their preference with high rewards of nectar.

Firebush is also a popular choice of feeding ground for hummingbirds due to the shape of the blooms. While color certainly plays a role in the hummingbird's hunt for food, researchers have discovered that nectar-rich flowers will always win regardless of color. Trumpet-shaped flowers tend to be rich sources of nectar. Because the clever hummingbirds have evolved to seek them out for survival, the tubular blooms on the firebush plant are extremely enticing. Even the long, slender beaks of the hummingbird are more suited to feeding from their small tube-shaped flowers.

How hummingbirds (and firebush) benefit your garden

Aside from being a mesmerizing addition to life in your garden, hummingbirds play an important role in its life cycle. When we think of pollinators, insects like bees and butterflies may come to mind first. Birds make up a surprising contribution to pollination, though, with 2,000 species helping in the pollination game. Among these, hummingbirds come in at the top, with their insatiable thirst for nectar. The small, whizzing birds help to transfer pollen from bloom to bloom as pollen takes a ride on their feathers while they are feeding. The transfer of pollen aids the fertilization of plants and the development of new ones — so adding firebush to your garden can actually benefit your other surrounding plants. 

Hummingbirds also eat a wide variety of insects for protein and other nutrients, including many of the garden pests that keep you up at night. To name a few, aphids, weevils, mosquitoes, gnats, and even beetles make up part of their diet. Keeping these birds around may help you to keep pest populations in check.