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Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm trying an alternative to messy, troublesome nectar feeders

I am gradually removing myself from feeding Hummingbirds via nectar feeders. I've had it with sticky counters, boiling pots, hungry ants, and artificial nectar that gets stale quickly in the Texas heat.

The artificial nectar does the job just fine. It's just too much mess and trouble. Besides, I'd rather feed Hummingbirds the natural way - the way nature has been doing it for thousands of years. With flowers.
In the last few years I've planted and encouraged several "masses" of colorful, native flowers. They're chock full of natural nectar which continuously refreshes itself. The nectar they produce has evolved to be in the perfect proportions. All I have to do is water it and fertilize it when it needs it (which is hardly ever). Hummingbirds love ‘em, and an added benefit is the bunches of butterflies.

For the record; my nectar masses (each at least 20 square feet) are Turks cap, Lantana and Mistflower. (Each mass is composed only of one species, except one has a tree in the middle). There are also Flame Acanthus, Spiderwort, Butterfly weed and Roughleaf Dogwood randomly growing in the yard. Being native, they all do fine in Texas' radical climate.

There are just two times when I’ll augment my flower masses with nectar feeders. One is early spring when Hummingbirds arrive in this area after an arduous migration. The other is late September, when Hummingbirds throng feeders to ”bulk up” for the long migration trip ahead.

Owen Yost, in addition to blogging, is a Landscape Architect emeritus from here, whos worked in north Texas for over 30 years.  He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Society of Landscape Architects, the National BirdFeeding Society, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Native Plant Society of Texas. His design office is at