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Attract Hummingbirds with This Container Garden

Place this hummingbird magnet out in a sunny spot and it won't be long before the hummingbirds come to visit. Relatively easy to care for, the three plants in the shopping list provide a big display of color that continues all summer long. Hibiscus flowers open during the day but often close up at night, so choose a spot where this container will be seen most often during the day. While this container planting thrives in full sun, it still provides a fabulous display if it's located in a spot that gets morning sun — just make sure it has at least six hours of direct sunlight.

Start putting this container together by filling a large planter halfway with potting soil. Before placing the hibiscus in the center of the planter, loosen the soil around its rootball to encourage the roots to spread throughout the container. The larger the hibiscus, the more likely it is to be rootbound (meaning its roots are tightly constricted), so this root-loosening process is important for a healthier container planting. Plant the hibiscus, add a little more potting mix around its roots, and then plant the bougainvilleas. Place the geraniums next, adding more potting soil if needed to cover all the roots in the container. Geraniums like to be planted so that the main stem of the geranium — where the plant goes into the soil — is slightly elevated. In other words, don't plant your geraniums too deep.

Some folks can get a little frustrated with bougainvilleas because they tend to bloom like crazy, then rest, and thus do not always give a consistent summertime display. Bougainvillea performs best if it's kept a little on the dry side and is well fed with a bloom-boosting plant fertilizer (one high in phosphorus). It is actually better to wait until the hibiscus leaves are just starting to droop a little from thirst before you water the planter again. If you keep all these plants slightly on the thirsty side, they will produce more blooms. To maintain a tidy look, pinch off the faded heads of the geraniums (this is called deadheading) throughout the summer and remove any hibiscus flowers that fall on the bougainvilleas.

This is an easy container planting to keep over the winter. Bring it indoors and place in an area that will not get below 50 degrees — a well-lit garage in zones 7 and below will work — or place near a bright window. It is important when storing indoors to keep the plant on the dry side. You don't want this plant blooming during the winter, either, so don't fertilize it.

Shopping List

  • Container mix potting soil
  • 1 3-gallon-sized tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hula Girl') A
  • 5 1-gallon-sized bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea 'Purple Queen®') B
  • 5 ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum 'Calliope™ Dark Red')C

Plant Options

You can use the same types of plants but different cultivars (specific named selections) to create a great new look. Try using Hibiscus'The President', Bougainvillea 'Raspberry Ice' and an ivy geranium such as Pelargonium 'Blizzard Blue'.