Holiday-Inspired Outdoor Decorating that Lasts

Dress up your front porch and yard with these holiday outdoor decorating ideas that last from the first days of fall through the New Year. They look great on a porch or just outside your door.

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Outdoor Christmas Decorating Ideas

Make the outside of your home as ready for the holiday season as the inside with these outdoor Christmas decorating ideas. Our holiday decorating ideas, including beautiful Christmas greenery, festive light displays, and more, are sure to get your yard Christmas-ready.

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Grow Beautiful Amaryllis

Amaryllis flowers are easy to grow from bulbs and great for adding color to your holiday decor.

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Deer-Resistant Shade Plants

Gardening in the shade where deer are plentiful can be a challenging situation. But there are plants that thrive in the shade that aren't tempting to hungry deer. Although no plant can be considered completely deer-resistant, here's a list of shade dwellers that most deer avoid. Plus, we've added some fun facts about deer that might help you understand them better.

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Shrubs with Winter Interest

A winter landscape has a beauty all its own. An unexpected plant feature -- winter blooms that perfume the air, bright berries, colorful or textured foliage or unusual bark -- add a welcome element to gardens. These winter shrubs will not disappoint.

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Tips for Moving Plants Indoors

Here's a handy guide for moving your favorite plants inside once the weather turns cold.

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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Attract colorful, darting hummingbirds to your garden by providing for their needs, and they'll return year after year.

The Hummingbird-Friendly Yard

Hummingbirds are attracted to a garden that includes open spaces, allowing them to move freely from one nectar source to another. A yard that's one-fourth shaded, one-fourth partially shaded, and the rest in open sun is ideal. Most favored flowers for hummingbirds grow in full sun.

Discover flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Curved beds and borders allow hummingbirds to approach blooms from several sides. Keep shorter flowers in front of tall ones to give hummingbirds easy access to their favorite flowers.

Hummingbirds actually spend most of their day quietly perched in trees or shrubs. However, to maintain their high metabolism, which is the highest of any warm-blooded animal except shrews, they must feed every 10-15 minutes. One hummingbird can visit hundreds of flowers each day in search of food.

Providing places for hummingbirds to perch can keep them in your yard. Males perch almost anywhere in the open -- on twigs, clotheslines, and overhead wires. Females and immature birds prefer to remain hidden among trees, shrubs, and vines. At night when they can't feed or when they enter a period of stress, hummingbirds have the unusual ability to slow their body functions, calming their heartbeat from as many as 1,260 beats per minute to 50. 

If your yard space is limited, consider plants that do double duty for food and shelter, such as citrus, cape honeysuckle, desert willow, weigela, flowering quince, and beautybush.

Best Plants to Attract Hummingbirds

Hummingbird flowers evolved at the same time as hummingbirds, developing specific features that don't allow access to other birds. The best flowers are tubular, scentless, brightly colored (often red, orange, or blue), and grow where it's easy for the birds to hover and sip. Some flowers are shaped to accommodate short or long bills of specific hummingbird species.

Variety is key to hummingbird happiness, too. Try to offer many different kinds of flowers over the longest possible season. You wouldn't want to eat the same food every day, right?

For migrating hummingbirds, flowers that open in spring and late summer are vital food sources. Year-round bloom is important in mild-winter regions of the West and along the Gulf Coast, where some species overwinter.

They're not particular about differentiating between annuals, perennials, and vines.

Mandevilla is a top vine for attracting hummingbirds. Learn more!

Hummingbird Feeders & Hummingbird Feeder Recipe

Besides providing nectar-producing plants, you can offer nutrition from a hummingbird feeder. The standard hummingbird feeder recipe closely approximates flower nectar:
4 parts water
1 part sugar

To make food for hummingbirds, first mix the ingredients. Boil for two minutes to remove impurities in the sugar and water. Don't boil longer; evaporation of more water can make the solution stronger, which can be bad for the birds' health. Cool the hummingbird recipe solution before filling the feeder. Store extra solution in the freezer; thaw to use in the next cycle.

Learn how to attract beneficial bugs to your yard.

Don't substitute sugar with honey in the hummingbird feeder recipe; the solution spoils quicker and may contain bacteria that can cause a fatal fungal disease. Also avoid artificial sweeteners for the hummingbird recipe: They provide no calories and hummingbirds need lots of calories to keep them going.

Adding red food coloring to the hummingbird feeder recipe is unnecessary; most hummingbird feeders are made from red plastic or glass to help attract the birds. Also, chemicals in the food coloring may be harmful to the birds' health.

Clean hummingbird feeders at least once every three days in hot weather or every week in cool weather so harmful bacteria doesn't build up. Compost any unused hummingbird food and rinse the feeder with water. If you see mold, add a splash of vinegar and grains of uncooked rice to the water and shake vigorously to dislodge it. Remove the vinegar and rice and rinse carefully with clean, warm water. If you see any remaining dark spots, scrub them off with a toothbrush or bottle brush.

If your hummingbird feeder is going unvisited, pay attention. It's probably because your hummingbird feeder recipe sugar solution has gone bad. Clean the feeder carefully, refill with fresh sugar-water, and offer it again.

Contrary to popular belief, hummingbirds can't survive on nectar or sugar solutions alone. Insects are an essential source of protein.

Hummingbird Habits

Once you invite hummingbirds to your garden, they will return from migration, seeking flowers in the same places they visited the year before. If you no longer provide them with food, they'll search out a new source of food. If you must be away during critical periods, such as early spring when flowers are scarce or during nesting periods, ask a neighbor or friend to refill your feeders so the birds don't go hungry.

Along with a source of food, hummingbirds also need a water source. Each day, they take in as much as eight times their body weight in water. Much of this comes in the form of nectar, but they also sip from dew-soaked leaves and other sources.

Hummingbirds delight in flying through a fine mist from a sprinkler, but avoid most birdbaths, which are too deep. An elevated birdbath (since they avoid coming to the ground to drink or bathe) with very shallow water levels may appeal to them.

When to Feed Hummingbirds

Begin feeding hummingbirds in spring as they migrate to your area. Because the birds depend on protein from insects, migration typically occurs after bug populations have built up from the winter season. In mild-winter areas where the birds may not migrate, gardeners can mix up the hummingbird feeder recipe and give it to the birds all year long.


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