Everybody likes hummingbirds – and if you live in Los Angeles, you’ve got a lot of opportunities to attract them to your yard or balcony. Native plants are a great way to help the birds around you while bringing a lot of color and life to your home. Here we talk a little about two plants: monkey flower and salvia.
One plant that is a can't-miss is the monkey flower. You’ve seen these before – if you squint your eyes, the flower looks like a funny face, or perhaps a monkey. They come in a variety of colors – red, pink, yellow, etc. – and always look great when flowering.
Hummingbirds love monkey flowers because they’re a great source of nectar. The birds will show a slight preference for the red variants, not necessarily because they like the color red, but more because bees don’t like the color red and thus tend to leave more nectar there for the hummingbirds.
There are essentially two different kinds of monkey flowers: Diplacus and Mimulus. Diplacus species tend to be a little more hardy, and can handle more exposure to the sun and rocky ground. Mimulus species are a little smaller and more fragile – and might benefit from a little more water. Diplacus species probably have a better shot at surviving in sandy soils near the beach, but both can do well throughout theLos Angeles region.
Monkey flowers should be available at any native plant store, and many more traditional nurseries, as well. Just make sure you get good instructions on how to best take care of your plant and you should do very well.
Another great native flowering plant is the salvia. It's hardy enough to live just about anywhere in Los Angelesand will attract hummingbirds like crazy, you can hardly do better than the salvias – a variety of sages that look great and bring a ton of life to your garden. And you’ll also get color – reds and blues.
While it’s a tough plant, ask the folks at your nursery which ones work best in your specific area – whether you live at the beach, in the desert, or up in the hills, there’s going to be a right one for your yard.
It’s a good spring to fall plant, that will make your native garden light up with bugs and birds and all the things you’re looking for.