Hummingbirds migrate north from the Yucatán starting in late February early March. Over the winter they spend most of their time gaining weight for the journey across the Gulf. Once they arrive in Texas they have lost about 50% of their weight. Banding studies have shown evidence that once each individual hummer develops a route they will frequent the same locations every year.
The hummer’s route south runs along the coast of Texas to Mexico. They don’t cross the Gulf going south, most likely due to hurricane season. Every year in September Rockport celebrates the migration with a festival. I was excited when I found out about the festival and plan to attend the this year. Let me know if you will be there.
It is important to make sure your garden has food, shelter & water for the hummingbirds. They need to stay nourished as they migrate, traveling up to 20 miles per day on their journey.
Russelia’s brightly colored flowers attract hummers & bees to feed on their nectar.
The equisetiformis is also called the firecracker plant because it has vibrant red tubular flowers, but I hear they have been hybridized and come in several colors, including yellow, coral and white. They’re good for retaining walls hills and nestled in rocks to simulate waterfalls. The ones in my area grow about 2 feet high with stems shooting out of the middle about 3 feet high. They will form a dense mound with branches arching out from the center spreading 2 to 4 feet. I’ve read, though that they can get as tall and wide as 6 feet in some areas.
The branches resemble horse reeds and don’t have any leaves. After reading some conversations on forums, I noticed some people concerned about the stems turning red in direct sun. This is perfectly normal in hotter climates. Russelias are native to Tropical America and Mexico and can stand extreme heat. They will flower best in direct sunlight with blooms continuously in warm seasons, often until first frost.
I maintain two gardens with russelias. One has it planted on the edge of a retaining wall in a vegetable garden. The other has it planted on a slope among rosemary bushes and other plants that don’t need the regular watering russelias need. Despite the drier conditions the russelias on the hill do well. They grew to about a foot high with the few stems jutting out of the center and reaching about 2 feet. The plant in the vegetable garden, however performed fabulously and grew vigorously most likely due to the additional watering.
- Height: usually around 2 feet tall but can grow up to 6 feet
- Hardiness: zone 9a-11 but seems to survive winters in my zone 8b just fine
- Soil: well-drained soil, salt-tolerant
- pH: 6.1 to 7.8
- Light: sun to light shade
- Evergreen or Deciduous: deciduous
- Seasonal Interest: summer to fall
- Water Needs: medium, but will love damp areas
- Wildlife: attracts butterflies, humming birds & insects
- Deer Resistant: no
- Notes: self seeds easily so dead head if you don’t want volunteers; can be propagated with herbaceous stem cuttings