Now that you have a list of suitable plants that will grow in the Sedona area (USDA Zone 7), which plants you use will depend on design principles based on the plant’s form and purpose. If you are looking to simply create an area that you will call your hummingbird garden that will be quite easy to design. It would be based on the size of the space as well as the amount of sunlight it gets. But before selecting which plants are suitable for your particular space, let’s look at the general form of each shrub. Not all the plants will be suitable for any space within your garden.
If you want your garden to not look like a hodgepodge of plants, you have to spend some time thinking about this basic principle: Select the right plant and put it in the right place.
What this means is you have to understand the growing requirements of the plants such as how tall and wide do they get, what kind of sunlight do they need and water and soil needs. Also, research and understand the aesthetic characteristics of each plant such as the flower color, texture, size and form.
Once you have a palette of suitable plants to work with, where do you place them? This is the art and science of planting design and there is a process that you must go through to achieve a thoughtfully designed garden.
The key to a successful “hummingbird” garden is to not rely solely on plants that have flowers that attract hummingbirds. Use other plants that provide the necessary structure, form, textural and seasonal interest to your garden. For instance, if you have a 12 x 12 spot that you want to create your hummingbird garden and select all perennials, what will it look like during the winter? A garden in Sedona must be designed with a balance of evergreens and perennials. This balance is key to the placement of the plants.
Start with analyzing your garden, its various spaces, the site conditions such as the amount of sunlight, slope, soil type, existing structures and elements you want to keep. Many of the ridge line properties in Sedona are rocky. You may have to rely on using containers instead. If you have sloped areas, consider using low terraced retaining walls which will allow you to add good soil to plant.
What are the functional elements such as a sitting area, patios, walkways, focal points, fountains or fences that may be included? Laying out the “hard” surfaces will define the areas available for plantings.
Perennial gardens are typically planting beds that are intended to create a flower show. For a hummingbird garden, you may want to designate a certain spot for this special bed or it could be a series of beds that border a walkway. You can also locate specific hummingbird plants throughout the garden so not all the excitement happens in one particular area.
In order to create interest place the plants based primarily on their form.  Categorize the forms based on trees, tall shrubs, medium shrubs, low shrubs, ground covers, spiky accents, evergreen vs. deciduous, annual and perennial. Conceptually layout each particular planting area based on the forms, then pay attention to the grouping, the layering and the massing of the plants.
Vertical layering is the escalation of height from the front to the back of a bed or a vantage point in the garden. Small low plants go up close and taller, bolder textures go in the background. Midlevel shrubs go in the middle.
Horizontal layering is the massing of shrubs and the repetition of shrubs to fill up a void. It is not a good idea to create horizontal layering with too much variety. Repetition of the same or similarly formed shrubs is best. You can break up the monotony by using vertical accents to break the linearity of the repeated shrub texture and form. I like to do this with spiky accent shrubs like Liriope, Red Yucca or Agave. Note that the Liriope and Agave are not hummingbird plants. Limiting your plant palette to all hummingbird plants is not a good idea. Use them as accents for when they flower, but not as the primary structure of the garden.

Here is a list of trees and shrubs that will do well in the Sedona area which should form the plant palette that will comprise your Sedona Hummingbird Garden Design.
TREES
Mimosa (deciduous)
Desert Willow (deciduous)
Vitex (deciduous)
Crape Myrtle (deciduous)
Pomegranate (deciduous)

PERENNIALS
Agastache
Bee balm
Canna lily
Daylily
Delphinium
Flame acanthus
Coral bells
Nasturtium
Petunia
Red columbine
Russian Sage
Penstemon
EVERGREEN SHRUBS
Autumn Sage
English lavender
Spanish lavender
Red Yucca

VINES
Halls honeysuckle (semi-evergreen)
Coral honeysuckle (semi-evergreen)
Red Trumpet vine (deciduous)

Include feeders in your Sedona Hummingbird Garden Design
Don’t overlook the use of feeders to provide hummingbirds with a food source in addition to the flowers. Not all flowers will be blooming, nor have sufficient nectar. Place the feeders in shade and/or near sitting areas of to view from inside the house. Having more than one feeder will help attract more hummers. For more information about the use of feeders check out the Sedona Hummingbird Society web site.

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Sedona Hummingbird Gardens are easy to create. You just need to include some of the hummingbird friendly plants that will grow here in Sedona.

 

Hummingbirds are fascinating birds that seem to mesmerize us while they suddenly buzz into our Sedona gardens and search out suitable flowers to feed on nectar. They hover like winged insects suspended in the air grasping at miniscule gnats in the air, but also require the nectar from flowers. This act of feeding on the flowers in our garden is what is so thrilling to watch. They dart from flower to flower with such speed and accuracy, if you are not paying attention, you could miss their visit.

 

Hummingbirds are different than most other bird species in that they feed primarily on nectar whereas other birds feed on insects, nuts, berries and seeds depending on their beaks. Hummingbirds, therefore do not compete with other bird species for food resources. They do however; compete with each other for territories that include adequate food, shelter and hiding places. Where there is adequate food sources such as a yard with multiple feeders hanging in the garden, there may be overlap to these territories since there is plenty to go around.

 

In Sedona, we have several species of Hummingbirds, the most common being the Anna’s Hummingbird which tends to be tolerant of cold temperatures and hangs around during the winter. Other species are migratory and tend to show up in early spring and peak out in midsummer. Because of the migratory behavior of most hummingbirds, they will tend to return to the same feeding spots every year. So having flowering plants and hummingbird feeders will keep them coming back to your Sedona Hummingbird garden.

 

When you understand that hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of all vertebrate animals with a heartbeat that can reach 1000 beats per minute, you will see why they are constantly feeding on nectar. The sugar is what they need to fuel their high rate of metabolism. Hanging a feeder is not frowned upon as the feeding of other animals species is. In fact, they need it and you are helping them to survive. Having flowering plants is just icing on the cake.

 

Do they really need red colored sugar water in the feeder? Hummingbirds are certainly attracted to the color red, but the nectar need not be colored with red dye. All hummingbird feeders are colored red as it is, so no need to buy that special hummingbird feeder mix.

 

So ideally, it would be good to have both feeders and flowering plants since you may not have enough flowers blooming to support them. The sight of watching a hummingbird feeding from a flower that is in full bloom can’t be matched by the bird – feeder combination. It’s just not the same.

 

My Sedona clients often request a hummingbird garden, or at least some plants that will attract hummingbirds to their garden. It’s simple to just hang a feeder on your porch or outside your kitchen window, but better yet to wander through a thoughtfully designed garden and watch the hummers feed from your assortment of hummer friendly flowering plants.

 

What kinds of shrubs have flowers that will be attractive to your Sedona hummingbird garden the most?

hummingbird pomegranate

Photo credit: Nancy Buron

There are numerous shrubs that are named after their hummingbird attractiveness. Here are three examples of hummingbird bushes:

 

Agastache species (about 15 different species, also called Giant Hyssop, Hummingbird Mint)
Hamelia patens (Firecracker bush)
Anisacanthus quadrifolius (Flame Acanthus, Hummingbird Bush, Desert Honeysuckle)

But there are many more with different flowers that attract hummingbirds and not all of the flowers are red. Some are blue, pink, yellow or white.

 

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