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Most gardeners want to attract more pollinators to their gardens, but hummingbirds are particularly special. With their whirring wings and iridescent feathers and unique ability to hover, hummingbirds are fascinating, beautiful, and unique, and the sight of them is enough to bring joy to anyone. So, what kind of flowers and vines can you plant to attract hummingbirds to your yard? Do hummingbirds like clematis?
Hummingbirds love clematis, also called “the queen of the vines,” because they are popular, easy-to-grow vines that are attractive to all kinds of pollinators, including hummingbirds. Hummingbirds will be drawn to their abundance of large, colorful, nectar-rich flowers, and Clematis seeds and flowers even provide nesting material for visiting hummers!
What are clematis and why do hummingbirds like them?
It may surprise you to find out that all species of clematis are members of the buttercup family! These huge, multi-colored, vigorous vines might look nothing like the humble yellow buttercup, but both are part of the family Ranunculaceae. Most garden varieties are derived from Chinese or Japanese species, but there are also native European species with delightful folkloric names like “old man’s beard”, “traveler’s joy”, or “virgin’s bower”. Native American species include Clematis viorna, or vasevine, also called “leather flower”. Garden varieties of clematis produce cascades of purple, red, pink, or white blossoms from early summer through to the beginning of fall. Individual flowers can be up to six inches across and produce a delightful, vanilla-like scent.
As you can imagine, many of these qualities make clematis very attractive to hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are drawn to bright colors, particularly red, but also purple, pink, yellow, and orange, and need consistent, abundant sources of food to meet their massive caloric needs. The profuse, richly-colored, long-blooming clematis is just the sort of thing hummingbirds are looking for. Not just that, but hummingbirds have been seen using the old flowers and soft, downy clematis seedheads to build their nests. So if you’re looking for a flower that will encourage hummingbirds to nest in your area, a clematis vine might be just the way to go.
Hummingbirds generally prefer tubular or trumpet-shaped flowers as those shapes are best suited for their beaks. However, although clematis flowers are flat, their open structure makes it easy for hummingbirds to access and drink their sweet, abundant nectar.
How do you grow clematis?
Clematis needs full sunshine on its stems and flowers, at least six hours of it in a day, but it prefers shade around its roots. Rich, well-drained soil is essential, and so is a lot of space; a fully-grown clematis can grow up to 20 feet in height! They also do not like soil that is too acidic, so if your soil is of a lower pH level, try adding some limestone or wood ash to the earth around your clematis’ roots every so often. Frequent mulching will also help keep the vine’s roots cool and moist. And make sure you have something for them to climb!
If you don’t have much space, it is possible to grow clematis in pots or containers. Keep the roots cool by choosing a thick clay, stone, or earthenware pot that has plenty of drainage. Clematis roots tend to grow large and broad, so make sure that the container is good and roomy so they have room to spread out. Make sure you water frequently, as there’s little a Clematis dislikes more than drying out. If you are an apartment-dweller and can garden only on your balcony, a potted Clematis can be easily trained to climb around railings. And it’s one of many potted flowers that can bring hummingbirds to your door.
Clematis can take several years to reach maturity, so it might be easiest to buy a container-grown plant from a nursery rather than trying to raise it from seed. Try to find one that is at least two years old, and be careful to avoid breaking the stems and vines when transplanting it to its new home.
What vines other than clematis attract hummingbirds?
Flowering vines are a great choice to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Many vines have fragrant, abundant, nectar-rich flowers that grow at just the right height to be enticing to hummingbirds.
Jasmine is a particularly fragrant and popular choice in warmer climates, and while it’s not a color that hummingbirds usually enjoy, it makes up for it in nectar production.
If you live in a more tropical area, a Mandevilla vine might be a wonderful addition to your hummingbird garden.
Don’t worry if you live in a cooler area; a native honeysuckle is one of the best choices to draw hummingbirds to your yard. These orange, pink, or red flowers produce huge amounts of nectar and are just the right shape for hummingbirds to feed on. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect hummingbird magnet.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking all vines will attract hummingbirds, however. Despite their abundant and brightly-colored blooms, climbing roses produce little in the way of nectar. So while they may bring hummingbirds in to have a look, they won’t stick around for very long.
Is clematis good for hummingbirds?
Clematis grow to be large and cumbersome vines, but they fill the space they take up with waves upon waves of beautiful, colorful flowers. In addition to being beautiful, these blossoms are rich in nectar, and thus a Clematis is a wonderful vine if you’re looking for flowers that attract hummingbirds. If you have a lot of extra space in your flower beds, or a large pot that’s going empty, and you want to make a pollinator-friendly garden, a Clematis vine might just be the perfect choice.