Keeping the theme for Earth Day on April 22 in mind, which is to “protect our species”, we give you an annual menu to encourage sunbirds to your garden all year long.
The plants suggested are naturally indigenous and April is a perfect time to plant them:
Plant a dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana) which covers itself with scarlet red “pokers” drenched in nectar. Also go for summer flowering aloes like the very pretty Aloe cooperi, with apricot flowers with green tips.
Wild dagga (Leonotus leonurus) – the velvety bright orange flowers resemble huge rain spiders sitting at the ends of each stem. Their rich nectar i irresistible to butterflies, bees and sunbirds. This large shrub will supply colour throughout autumn. There is also a form with creamy white flowers, which is well worth planting.
Any winter-flowering aloe specie or hybrid will do to attract many other bird species as well, but the centerpieces should be the other coral trees. The coastal coral tree (Erythrina caffra) is a large tree, producing magnificent flowers smothered in nectar. The smaller, common coral tree (E. lysistemon) is equally generous with spectacular flowers, but more suitable to smaller gardens.
The broad-leaved coral tree (E. latissima) will produce its pretty blooms from late winter to spring. Every frost-free garden should at least have one of these species. For colder gardens there is the local mountain bottle brush (Greyia sutherlandii) and woolly bottlebrush (Greyia radlkoferi) – perfect and showy for small gardens with well-drained soil.
Note that planting these species will not only attract sunbirds all year long, but also other nectar-loving birds and critters like bees, butterflies and even bats.