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In a word, Hummingbirds!
I have a little larger than average subdivision backyard in Stoney Creek, Ontario (Zone 5b) and since ’97 have been focused on attracting wildlife to my yard, especially Hummingbirds.

To learn more visit our Hummingbird Groups @
Canada Hummingbirds
Hummingbird Garden

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Hummingbird Feeders

There are many similar methods for feeder care and maintenance. I’ve found this works well. Hummingbird feeders are a bigger responsibility than most think.

Feeders - I tried a few cheaper models of feeders and they all went in the garbage. It’s cheaper in the long run to purchase a quality one with a good design and materials. Some cheaper manufactures use poor quality plastics that are not food grade plastic and will leach harmful chemicals into the nectar. I’ve found this four fountain perky-pet glass bottle style works well. Another thing to look for in feeder design is, are you able to take it apart and see inside to make sure there is no mold growing? I had the orange hexagon Oriole feeders at one time. Those ones grow mold in the corners and cannot be taken apart to see inside and clean them properly. Also the two halves of the bottom are glued together. Glue is bad, contains solvents and is not food grade safe. Coloured glass models look pretty but are difficult to see any mold growing inside them and clean. And avoid using feeders will metal rivets or metal parts. Metal will oxidize and corrode and that will get into the nectar.

I use the Four fountain perky-pet glass feeder without the yellow guards.

The hummzinger is made from polycarbonate which is a food safe plastic.

Cleaning – Initial seasonal or purchase cleaning should be with 1:20 bleach and water. After the initial cleaning I use white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean feeders. Bleach can be dangerous if not rinsed thoroughly and also damages clothing . Washing feeders with dish soap or dishwasher detergent leaves a residue that changes the taste of the nectar for the hummingbirds. Feeders should never be left out long enough to get moldy and should be cleaned and refreshed every 3 to 4 days depending on how hot it is outside. During the hottest days of summer (+30C) every other day is best.

White Granulated Pure Cane Sugar – Is the best to use. In the U.S. the crop used to produce sugar is the sugar cane, however in Canada the crop used is sugar beets. I’ve done taste tests using identical feeders in the same location and hummingbirds definitely prefer cane sugar over beet sugar. Before I switched to white cane sugar and cleaning the feeders with white vinegar my hummingbirds didn’t seem to like the feeders much and would only occasionally use them.

Nectar Recipe - 2 cups water (non-chlorinated is preferred) in a sauce pan brought to a boil for 1-2 minutes remove from heat pour in cup (4:1) white cane sugar stir till dissolved. Let cool completely. Fill feeder with only as much as needed for 2 days. I’ve found 1/3 cup of nectar at a time works well for the four fountain feeder design.

Storing Nectar – A glass wine bottle and wine vacuum pump works really well and keeps nectar from oxidizing and stays fresher longer. It will stay fresh 10 – 14 days in the refrigerator.

Location - Hang feeders out of direct sun. UV-rays will breakdown plastic parts and those chemicals could leach into the nectar causing the birds to ingest them. Direct sun will also heat up the nectar and accelerate the growth of mold. Also avoid placing feeders too close to windows. Window strikes can also be a problem.

Ant Moats – filled with water will stop ants. I made one with a red plastic spray paint lid, small turnbuckle, rubber and steel washers.

Labelling – Putting the date the feeders and storage bottle are filled on them with a piece of masking tape. It’s an easy way to keep track of them, and helps you to know how fresh the nectar is.

Never use Any of these products in your feeders:
Raw Cane or Brown sugar - Tests show they have very high iron levels that can be harmful

Icing or powdered sugar – they contain corn starch which can be harmful

Honey – Can cause them to get a fugal infection on their tongues

Cool-aid -

7up -

Jello -

Splenda, Aspartam or any other artificial sweeteners

Or Any nectar product with that blasted “RED DYE”. Red “die” is completely unnecessary and has NEVER been proven safe for hummingbirds. But it has been proven harmful to humans. And it’s only added to those nectar products to push up the price.

How to Propagate Plants by Softwood Cutting

I’ve have had a lot of success rooting softwood cuttings of plants that don’t produce much or any seed. This is my humble process.

I’ve tried this method on a number of different plant species including tropical houseplants. On some it works great and others not so good or not at all. The fun part is experimenting!

The basic idea is to keep the stem of the cutting alive until a callous and roots can form. This is called asexual propagation (‘a’ means without) or cloning, as apposed to sexual propagation which is by seed. And "softwood" means this year’s growth that hasn’t toughened to hard or semi-hardwood yet.

There are many methods and types of equipment you can use. However, this is the method I use and it’s currently working well for my plant needs.

Points to keep in mind before you start:

1) Use a sharp knife or pruning shears. Ones that won’t crush the end the roots will be generated from. A clean cut will preserve the cells close to the surface.

2) Clean your knife or shears with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol or water and bleach (10:1), before you start to make cuttings. Fungus and bacteria can rot a cutting before it has a chance to form roots.

3) It’s best to take cuttings during a time of year when the plant is in full growth mode, usually early to mid-summer. Actually any time of year other than full dormancy is OK, but the more vigorous it’s growing at the time of cutting the higher percentage of success you’ll have. Again experiment, some plants will root fine from late September cuttings kept under grow lights.

4) Take healthy cuttings, strong, disease and insect damage free.

5) The leaf or leaves left on the cutting stem will continue to provide moisture and energy "juice" until roots have formed. So you have to cut off all the extra leaves and flower buds and only leave one or two leaves at the top. Some plants have large leaves compared to their stem diameter and you can cut them in half width wise.

6) Cutting length varies from plant to plant. Most will grow roots from 3 to 4 inch cuttings. Some need 6 inches and others are so hardy only an inch stem and one half of a mature leaf are required.

7) The bottom of the stems will rot if they are wet. So the idea is to lightly mist the leaves and keep the air in the seed tray and dome moist without getting the perlite mix and stems wet.

8) When taking cutting they should be taken quickly and not allowed to dry out, keep moist and out of the sun.

9) The cuttings need bright light but not direct sun

10) The rooting hormone has a shelf life and should not be contaminated, keep cool and dry and out of direct sun. Ideally, it will last a couple of years.

11) Go to the library. I’ve found most if not all of this information from library books and "Not the Internet". One of my favourite books is "Secrets of Plant Propagation" by Lewis Hill.

12) Lastly, Experiment. The best way to learn this is by trial and error. The best conditions for each species will become second nature after a while.

You’ll need:

- A bag of Perlite ("white popcorn", naturally occurring silicous volcanic rock), you can add vermiculite and a little soilless mix but remember we want it light and airy and not wet

- Plastic seed growing tray with a high 6" clear plastic dome top

- 1 to 8 - Plastic plant pots 3 or 4 inch with drain holes, cleaned with water and
bleach 100:1) I use clean cottage cheese containers

- Clean sharp shears

- Hand squeeze spray bottle with clean water

- Softwood cutting rooting hormone powder (Stim-Root No.1 0.1% Indole-3-butyric acid)

- Dibbler – a clean stick or pencil to make a hole in the perlite mix to put the cutting into


Clean your tools, pots and tray. Fill the pots with the perlite and put them into the seed tray. Harvest the cuttings from the plant taking longer cuttings then needed. At a worktable out of the hot sun, pour a little of the powder out on a napkin. Cut off the extra leaves on the stem of the cutting leaving one or two good leaves. Make a fresh cut on the stem touch it into the powder tap off the excess powder and with the dibbler make a hole in the perlite and push the stem in an inch or so. Each pot will hold 4 or 5 cuttings. When you’re finished preparing the cuttings mist the leaves and dome and cover the tray. Put the tray in an area that gets bright light but not direct sun light. Mist the cuttings daily or in very hot times of the year twice daily, morning and night. Roots will usually form in 3 to 6 weeks. Some annual vines like wave petunias and ivy root in as little as two weeks. To check for roots lightly tug on the cuttings if resistance, then you have roots. Let the root grow to a length and thickness that will sustain the size of the stem (experiment). Usually new leaf buds will start to grow at this time too. Then pot them up in clean pots and new potting soil and water with a mild transplant fertilizer. And slowly introduce them to the sun over a week or so.

Additionally, if you get a "jiffy" style seed heating pad (Wal-M in January) to provide bottom warmth you may get roots a little faster on some species.

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    Perlite, Clean sharp cutting knife or clippers, dibbler stick, rooting hormone, seedling tray and most importantly the 6” high dome cover to keep the leaves humid.

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    Hand mister, seed tray and dome, plant heating pad for winter and early spring rooting, and the cuttings. There are way too many cuttings in there but I can’t help myself.

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    Cuttings can vary in length. Some plants root from the leaf nodes others need a longer than this. But cut off the flower buds and small leaves to promote root growth. This is a Salvia elegans cutting.

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    Once the roots are an inch or two long pot it up. I use small 2 1/2" pots and a light potting mix and water with a weak transplant fertilizer. It may need to be kept in the dome for another week or so after that. Then introduce to the sun gradually.

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    And there you have it! Your results may vary :)

    I live in: Canada

    First registered on September 26, 2006 .