Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 08, 2011

From: Toledo , OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Hummingbird plants for OH
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We live in Toledo, Ohio and would like to have a Hamelia patens or firebush to attract hummingbirds; we are in their migration path. Would it survive outdoors or do we need to pot and move it indoors for winter?

ANSWER:

According to our Native Plant Database Hamelia patens (Scarletbush), also known as Firebush, is native only to Florida, so there is no way it will survive outdoors in Ohio.  You can try to overwinter it indoors but its chances of survival are slim.  Tropical shrubs generally find the indoor air in the wintertime too dry.  Every time I have tried something similar I end up with spider mites by the end of January!

Seeing as you are on the hummingbird migration path, there are plants native to your area that they have been using as a food source long before humans starting hanging out red syrup filled plastic feeders for them.  If you plant these plants in your garden, they will visit you.  In general, hummingbirds prefer red colored flowers with long, tubular throats.You can begin your search for these plants by visiting our Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search for Ohio.   Unfortunately, we cannot sort the data specifically for hummingbird plants, but if you search for red flowering shrubs and perennials (herbs) and visit the information page for each one by clicking on the link, you will find whether it is a "hummingbird plant".

Here are some recommmendations:

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm)

Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)

If you have these plants in your garden, there will be a constant supply of nectar for the hummingbirds during their stay.  You will find a wealth of information on attracting hummingbirds and other widlife to your garden at The National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife Website and you will find a very interesting and informative article on designing a hummingbirds garden on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website here.  I also highly recommend their publication "The Wildlife Gardener's Guide" which is available through Amazon.com

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarletbush
Hamelia patens

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Native plants for a lizard terrarium
October 24, 2006 - My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Nandina with natives for a schoolyard in Washington DC
May 11, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our schoolyard now has some invasive plants in the landscaping that we would like to replace with native plants. We have four clumps of Nandina planted at each pillar along a...
view the full question and answer

Plants for hummingbirds and butterflies in Galveston County TX
September 09, 2014 - I am looking for native plants for a butterfly and hummingbird garden. I plan on putting the hummingbird garden in part shade and would like some Fall blooming plants to attract them during migration....
view the full question and answer

Understory plants for creek side in Austin
September 22, 2008 - We live along Shoal Creek in central Austin and would like to establish a natural balance of vegetation along the creek. We currently have a high tree canopy made up of native Cedar Elms. What would...
view the full question and answer

Will shoes pick up American Beautyberry fruit and stain carpets?
March 21, 2010 - Do the berries from American Beautyberry fall on the ground so your shoes pick up the berries to stain the carpet in my house?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.