10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

See More

Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

View Slideshow

Summer Checklist

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

View Video

Drought-Tolerant Grasses

Drought! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Scarce water resources, especially in hard hit areas such as California and Texas, are making it almost impossible to maintain traditional style lawns. That's why many people are replacing their lawns with groundcovers and native plants. But for those who want a lush green lawn, here are some less-thirsty options.

See More

How to Improve Garden Soil

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil ¿ but you don¿t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

View Video

Top Shade Perennials

Shade plants are perfect for those tough spots in your yard. Learn about the best shade-loving perennials, including flowering shade perennials, partial shade perennials, and full-shade perennials.

View Video

Landscape Ideas

Landscape ideas provide inspiration, and studies show that upgrading your landscape will add value to your home. Here are some great landscape ideas to improve your home's outward appeal.

View Slideshow
Popular in Gardening

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.


Loading... Please wait...