Our hummingbirds are attracted to anything red, so much so that I observed one fly toward our trash can, hover over the red label on the lid and inspect it thoroughly before buzzing away. Why red?
Could the hummingbird be in constant search of the scarlet flowers of the Red Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)? A vine that grows 30′ with large tubular 3″ flowers must be a coveted nectar source for the hummingbird whose beak and long tongue are adapted for feeding on the trumpet-shaped flowers.
“Showy” is how the horticulturists describe the flowers which are about 3″ long. This is something of an understatement! The vine has an outrageously tropical appearance, which is unexpected in upstate New York, an area famous for Maple trees, apples and sweet corn.
Although it resembles an escapee from a green house, it’s native to north eastern US.
The red trumpet vine is sometimes planted around front yard mailboxes, very decorative but imagine a 35′ vine growing up a 3′ post – you’d have to keep on top of the pruning or your mailbox would be engulfed pretty quickly. This is a beautiful vine but it needs plenty of space and a strong support structure such as a pergola.
Sometimes called ‘Hummingbird vine’, this plant is an important nectar source for hummingbirds and other pollinating insects including butterflies and moths. Because it is native to eastern US it provides habitat for native wildlife species and contributes to a healthy ecosystem.
If you don’t have the space for the trumpet vine, how about planting a native honeysuckle such the ‘Coral Honeysuckle’ (Lonicera sempervivens)? It is a woody vine with large bright red tubular flowers and has all the advantages of the hummingbird vine. It can reach up to 30′ but is easily pruned to a smaller size and considered a non-aggressive grower.
If you have a suggestion for a smaller native vine that would provide habit/food for wildlife, share your knowledge and add a comment. Thanks!
For more about this vine and other native species, check out this site Flourish of Trumpets!