Tag Archives: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014
Niles Pond ~ Rose Mallow Natural Habitat

GMG FOB Allen Sloane writes with the subject line White, Floppy, and Big:

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you on Saturday.

Thanks for all the info on poke weeds. My dog doesn’t seem to have any interest in the berries so some day I’ll get around to removing it.

Last night I went to look at it and right next to it is this plant which has decided to blossom. I have seen a couple of other plants in the neighborhood so I don’t know if they are from seed or it is a cultural decision to grow them. Be my guest if you want to answer via your daily post.

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Above photo courtesy Allen Sloane

Hi Allen,

The gorgeous flower in the photo that you sent is the North American native Hibiscus moscheutos, also known by many common names, including rose mallow, swamp mallow, eastern rosemallow, and crimson-eyed rose mallow. Crimson-eyed rose mallow blooms in shades of pure white to cheery pink and deepest rose red.

To answer your question, the seeds are dispersed by birds, and they are also readily available in nurseries. Locally, Wolf Hill always has a lovely selection. I plant rose mallows widely in my client’s native plants gardens as well as in Arts and Crafts period gardens because they are beautiful, easily tended, and are a terrific source of nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. H. moscheutos grow beautifully along marsh edges as well as in gardens. There’s a sweet patch growing at Niles Pond, and I am sure we would see many more if phragmites weren’t supplanting all our marsh wildflowers.

We planted a patch at the HarborWalk, but sadly they were stolen. Next year I am hoping we can replace the lost plants!

Rose Mallow Marsh Mallow ©Kim Smith 2013Rose Mallow Growing at Niles Pond

The following is an excerpt from an article that I wrote awhile back, titled “Growing Native:”

“…Throughout the American Arts and Crafts movement, and well into the 1930’s, home and garden magazines, among the most influential sources of ideas for the homeowner, espoused the use of native plants in the landscape. Perhaps the most notable was Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman, which was published for fifteen years, beginning in 1901. Stickley revered the North American white oak (Quercus alba), admiring it for its majestic role in the eastern forest and for its unique strength and figuring of the wood for furniture making. A sense of connectedness to nature is at the heart of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and the popular writing of the era reflects how to create this relationship.

I am reminded of a lovely and memorable cover of Country Living for the September 1905 issue featuring a drift of rose mallows (Hibiscus moscheutos), which resemble and are closely related to hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Both are members of the Malvaceae or Mallow Family. Hibiscus moscheutos are commonly referred to as crimson-eyed rose mallow and also marsh mallow, because the roots were used to make marshmallows. Rose mallows are a practical and economical native perennial as they reliably return year after year, unlike hollyhocks, although charming and beautiful, are short-lived (with the exception of Alcea rugosa). Rose mallows bloom in shades of pale pink to deeper rosey pink, from July through the first frost. Although found growing in marshy areas along stream and river banks, rose mallows will flourish in the garden when provided with rich moist soil and planted in a sunny location. New growth is slow to emerge in the spring. When cutting back the expired stalks after the first hard frost of autumn, leave a bit of the woody stalk to mark its spot for the following year. The leavesof Hibiscus moscheutos are a host plant for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly and the flowers provide nectar for Ruby-throated hummingbirds.”

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2010Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Mimosa Tree

Wednesday I visited an extraordinary garden in Marblehead. Amongst the many specimens of unusual trees that are not widely grown in our region, which are growing in this sheltering tree-garden, was one of my very favorites, the stunning Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin f. rosea). Although the Mimosa Tree is not indigenous (it is native to southwestern and eastern Asia), the blossoms are a rich source of nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and several species of swallowtails.

Mimosa Tree ©Kim Smith 2013

Mimosa Tree ~ Albizia julibrissin f. rosea

New Bistro Lights at Willowdale Estate

Willowdale Estate Courtyard

Monday night I was filming at Willowdale as we are in the early stages of creating a web page about the butterfly gardens for the Willowdale Estate website. I was hoping to film the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at dusk and did succeed! They were nectaring from the Rose Mallow, hosta, Snowberry Bush, and butterfly bushes.

Verbena bonariensis

I love the new bistro lights in the courtyard garden–so romantic!

A Hummingbird’s Perspective

Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green.

Trumpeting the Trumpet

Early blooms are an important feature for the vine planted to lure hummingbirds. You want to provide tubular-shaped flowers in shades of red and orange and have your hummingbird feeders hung and ready for the earliest of the northward-migrating scouts. If nothing is available, they will pass by your garden and none will take residence. Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green. We go so far as to plant vivid Red Riding Hood tulips beneath our hummingbird feeders, which hang from the bows of the flowering fruit trees. Although hummingbirds do not nectar from the tulips, the color red draws them into the garden and the flowering fruit trees and sugar water provide sustenance for travel-weary migrants.

Lonicera sempervirens, also called Trumpet and Coral Honeysuckle, is a twining or trailing woody vine native to New England. Trumpet Honeysuckle is not at all fussy about soil and is drought tolerant. Plant in full sun to part shade. If Trumpet Honeysuckle becomes large and ungainly, prune hard to the ground—it grows rapidly and a vigorous pruning will only encourage more flowers.

Lonicera sempervirens John Clayton

‘Major Wheeler’ flowers in a deeper red than that of the carmine of ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’ ‘John Clayton’ is a cheery, cadmium yellow, a naturally occurring variant of Lonicera sempervirens, and was originally discovered growing wild in Virginia. The blossoms of ‘Mandarin’ are a lovely shade of Spanish orange.

Trumpet Honeysuckle has myriad uses in the landscape. Cultivate to create vertical layers, in a small garden especially. Plant Lonicera sempervirens to cover an arbor, alongside a porch pillar or to weave through trelliage. Allow it clamber over an eyesore or down an embankment. Plant at least one near the primary paths of the garden so that you can enjoy the hummingbirds that are drawn to the nectar-rich blossoms. I practically bump into the hummingbirds as they are making their daily rounds through the garden flora. Did you know they make a funny squeaky sound? I began to take notice of their presence in our garden, when at my office desk one afternoon in late summer, with windows open wide, I heard very faint, mouse-like squeaks. I glanced up from my work, fully expecting to see a mouse, and was instead delighted to discover a female Ruby-throat outside my office window, nectaring at the vines. Trumpet Honeysuckle not only provides nectar for the hummingbirds, it also offers shelter and succulent berries for a host of birds.

While planting the summer gardens at Willowdale this past week we observed dozens of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds nectaring at the Trumpet Honeysuckle embowering the courtyard doors.

Lonicera sempervirens is a caterpillar food plant for the Snowberry Clearwing moth.