Lobelia cardinalis , or cardinal flower, really is a hummingbird magnet. This patch of cardinal flower came from a single plant I started indoors from seed several years ago. I planted my original seedling near a downspout, since cardinal flowers love water. They flower in their second year, after spending the first year as a rosette growing low to the ground.
My lone plant, when it bloomed, was unusually tall and robust - a small shrub. The next year, a few plants seeded themselves in the front yard. This year the original plant has been replaced by many offspring - a little jungle of cardinal flowers. It probably didn't hurt that I sprinkled seed from the parent plant liberally. Plus this year's plants must have loved our rainy spring.
Last week I had a brief sighting of a hummingbird on the cardinal flowers at the front of the house. Yesterday came the real payoff. A hummingbird landed on the top of my scarlet runner beans. He actually sat still for a few seconds, then flitted over to the black-eyed Susans, and on to the cardinal flowers, where I had the great treat of watching him sip nectar from blossom after blossom. After that he found the rose-of-sharon, where he blended in so beautifully it was impossible to track him further. I'm determined to get a picture of him, even if it means sitting quietly in wait for him with my camera in hand, while the mosquitoes feed on me.