Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

plants-attract-hummingbirds

Do you love to watch hummingbirds fly around your garden? Learn which types of plants attract hummingbirds and how to create a hummingbird-friendly environment in your garden!

Attracting Hummingbirds

For centuries, gardeners have been fascinated with the beauty and aerobatics of hummingbirds. The key to attracting hummingbirds to your yard is to plant lots of flowers and provide the habitat that will give them shade, shelter, food, and security.

  • Herbs, flowering shrubs, dwarf trees, and vines can all be used to create an ideal tiered habitat from ground level to 10 feet or more.
  • Provide lots of space between plants to give hummingbirds enough room to hover and navigate from flower to flower.
  • Hummingbirds love water, especially if it’s moving. A gentle, continuous spray from a nozzle or a sprinkler hose is perfect for a bath on the fly.
  • Hummingbirds do not have a keen sense of smell and rely on bright colors to find their food.
  • They are particularly fond of red and are often observed investigating feeders with red parts, red plant labels, red thermometers, and even red clothes on a gardener. Note: Do not use red dye in a hummingbird feeder; there is concern that it may harm the birds. Instead, use plain, clear sugar water (1 part white sugar mixed with 4 parts water). The birds love it! If your feeder does not have red on it, attach a red label or other item to attract them.
  • Brightly-colored flowers that are tubular hold the most nectar, and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. These include perennials such as bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines; biennials such as foxgloves and hollyhocks; and many annuals, including cleomes, impatiens, and petunias.
  • Find more tips for introducing hummingbirds to your garden here!

An often–asked question is, “Why do hummingbirds hum?” We can’t say for certain, but suspect that it might be because they don’t know the words!

All jokes aside, the real answer is that hummingbirds are capable of beating their wings up to 80 beats per second, producing a buzz audible to human ears.

Hummingbird at purple flowers

Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds

Here’s a list of flowering plants that attract hummingbirds. Choose varieties in red and orange shades.

Many of the plants that attract hummingbirds also attract butterflies. Learn more about attracting butterflies to your garden.

Common Name Latin Name
Beard tongue Penstemon
Bee balm Monarda
Butterfly bush Buddleia
Catmint Nepeta
Clove pink Dianthus
Columbine Aquilegia
Coral bells Heuchera
Daylily Hemerocallis
Larkspur Delphinium
Desert candle Yucca
Iris Iris
Flowering tobacco Nicotiana alata
Foxglove Digitalis
Lily Lilium
Lupine Lupinus
Pentas Pentas
Petunia Petunia
Pincushion flower Scabiosa
Red-hot poker Kniphofia
Scarlet sage Salvia splendens
Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens
Soapwort Saponaria
Summer phlox Phlox paniculata
Verbena Verbena
Weigela Weigela

Hummingbird at feeder

Hummingbird Facts

Hummingbirds are one of the most interesting birds! Here are some fun facts about these little birds:

  • Bee hummingbirds are the tiniest of all birds, weighing less than an ounce and measuring only 2 inches long.
  • Their brightly-colored, iridescent feathers and quick movements make them appear as living sun catchers—hence their nickname, flying jewels.
  • Hummingbirds have the unique ability to fly in any direction, even backward, with their wings beating up to a blurring 80 beats per second.
  • Plus, they can hover in midair when sipping nectar from brightly–colored flowers with their long, slender beaks.
  • While whizzing about the garden, hummingbirds expend so much energy that they must eat at least half their body weight each day to replace the calories that they burn up. This means eating almost constantly—from sunrise to sunset—and visiting over a thousand flowers every day.
  • You can hear the call of a ruby-throated hummingbird here.
  • Learn more about hummingbirds here.

If you’re a fan of hummingbirds, you probably like to see other birds flying around your garden, too. Explore these tips for a bird-friendly garden.

Do you have hummingbirds or other birds in your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Bird Murder

It has occurred to me that a hummingbird had just impaled another hummingbird while flying. I didn't ask for this, thanks a lot!

Question about plants that attract hummingbirds

We have an Althea outside our dining room. Hummingbirds are attracted to it. Do those plants have any nectar that the Hummingbirds can get to?
Thanks,
Bobby

Do Hummingbirds Like Althea Nectar

Hi Bobby,

Yes! Hummingbirds love nectar from althea flowers. Keep those althea plants healthy to encourage the hummingbirds to stay around!

Do Hummingbirds like Althea Nectar?

Thanks, for the reply. The Althea we have is a Rose of Sharon. Are Hummingbirds attracted to all Althea’s? I want to add another one to our yard in front, possibly a different color.
Thanks,
Bobby

Althea Plants

No problem! We love to help. Yes, hummingbirds are attracted to all types of althea plants. Go right ahead and plant the type that you want!

Bully Bird

I enjoy watching the hummingbirds on my patio feeding. I have verbena, petunias, pineapple sage plants on my patio to feed them. I can't wait until they start feeding on them. There is this one hummer that always fight and runs off other hummer from feeding and perches on top of the hook and guards it. I call him my little bully Bird, because he's very territorial.

Hummingbird feeder food

I've been using a 1/3rd cup sugar to 1 cup water for early migration, due to the energy used by the birds. Then the 1/4th cup to 1 cup there after. Is this OK, or should I just go with the latter?

homemade hummingbird nectar

We tend to add 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups boiling water until the sugar’s dissolved and then let it cool. That’s it. It seems to work. 

Plant for hummingbirds

The Crocosmia flower is ideal for hummers. Bright red or orange. Gets so tall, it falls over with the weight of the flowers.

Sugar Water, Not Sugar Water

Hello,

Now I am a little confused, I have read in the thread, not to give red dye to the Hummingbirds, so instead, I gave them sugar water. Like you, I do not want to harm them, so I now just plant flowers they love. I do however like having the feeders, what should I do?

hummingbird water

Even without the red dye, there is still controversy as to what sugar is safe to use when making sugar water for a hummingbird. Audubon recommends refined white sugar (pure sucrose). Organic, natural, and raw sugar may contain iron at too high a level. Do not use any other sweeteners, like agave syrup, artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, etc. Also, do not use honey. Keep to the 1 part sugar to 4 parts water formula–more sugar in the water could cause harm. Be sure to boil the solution for 1 to 2 minutes and cool before filling the feeder. Clean the feeder and change the water every few days–daily in hot weather. Hope this helps!

Hummingbird Eggs;

Each Hummingbird Egg is the size of a Lincoln Penny; four hummingbird eggs can fit in one nest";

Humming Birds

I use to have some flowers someone gave me the seeds, called 4 o'clocks that blooms, only opened at night or when cloudy. Some were yellow, pink, & mixed. At night with porch light on, we'd watch humming birds come. & one bird, always came to the door like it was peeking in. My late husband loved it.

Hummingbirds

I have lots of hummingbird every year i put out about six to ten feeders a year i live in klondike (Gueydan) La

Why my hummers won't visit my Columbine?

I have many lavenders around my house, hummers love them and visit frequently...
But noticed they never get close to my blue Columbine or even stop to check the flowers
Why?
Thank you!

More than 200 Hummingbirds on my terrace

I had some hummingbirds feeders that ONE hummingbird was jealously protecting.. then about four years ago, more than ONE HUNDRED of them arrived at the same time. They probably came to the gigantic park which surrounds us, but because of the drought, all the bushes were brown and dry. So they came to me and staid. Of course, I rushed to the bird store and came back with a lot of feeders and ready nectar. Now i use sugar of course. They are here all year long and meanwhile they had babies. So now I have 33 big feeders on my terrace and probably more than 200 coming at dawn and sunset because they have to fly around to find a place at the feeders. A BLISS! But also very tiring for me and expensive. So the solution is planting what they need. I live in the Santa Monica Mountains in Sth CA. Hot in summer, it may freeze in winter, even for just one night but the succulents die. The soil is poor as it is. And very dry. Unless we add rich soil and water a lot. What do you advice me as plants that are perennial and don't ask much, and also which plants can have nectar in winter since the hummingbirds are staying here.with us?

Hummingbirds

Hi Mijanou,

Lupine, trumpet creeper, and bee balm are all great options for hummingbirds. But don’t worry about trying to feed all of the hummingbirds that come to your house: They will find food wherever it is and don’t rely on you to survive. 

200 hundred hummingbirds

Contact the schools or organizions to see if anyone would like to become involved in your hummingbird project.

Shrub in the picture

I have one of the shrubs shown in the picture with the hummingbird visiting the purple tube shaped flowers. I have been asked many times what it is, and for the life of me I cannot remember. Can you please tell me the name of the plant? Thank you!

Shrub in the Picture

The plant in the picture is a purple variety of Iochroma cyanea.

no hummers in front yard/several now in back!? No male hummers

I put a feeder in the front yard in April. Had to throw food out no action. My front and back yards are full of flowers of all colors. I feed other birds in my back yard. I have seen
cedar waxwings, woodpeckers and many more. I recently put my hummer feeder in my peach tree(in back) and have started getting female hummers but no males so I can't identify my hummers. I live in Colorado's front range. Can I do something more to invite the males? Thank you for your help. Sally

Attracting More Hummingbirds

The key to attracting more male hummingbirds is simple: attract more female hummingbirds! Males are highly territorial and will spend all day defending their favorite drinking spots, so the best way to attract more of them is to spread out more feeders across your property. Hummingbirds also appreciate having somewhere nearby to perch, so try placing your feeders near shrubs or small trees. Planting more of the flowers recommended above may also help to increase your hummer population. Here’s a handy guide (with images) to common hummingbird species in your area: Hummingbirds of Colorado.

NO to sugar water!

Please do some research and delete the above- mention of using sugar water. We now know that it weakens their eggshells and they are crushed by their mothers. I love these birds so much, and I hate to see that this misinformation is still out there.

Sugar Water Nectar

Hi Rick,

There is a lot of controversy over what to feed hummingbirds, but regular sugar water, made with plain white sugar (not turbinado or raw organic sugar), and boiled water are definitely ok. The red dye #40 found in commercial hummingbird nectars is the problem; It is a petroleum based chemical that causes hummingbirds to contract cancerous tumors, liver legions, and skin rashes, as well as causing weakened eggshells. Hummingbirds are tiny and consume massive amounts of the dye, which is toxic in high doses. We appreciate your concern and for pointing out potentially incorrect information. Thank you for writing!   

GMO sugar made from

GMO sugar made from genetically engineered sugar beets I'm sure is not good for any living creature. At least pick organic sugar.

Hummingbirds

Hello,

There are multiple hummingbirds gathering at my feeders but only one at a time. What ideas might encourage the other hummingbirds to feed at the same time? It looks like there is some territorial behavior by the dominant hummingbirds.

Thanks for ideas.

Hummingbirds

Hi Francisco,

The simplest way to get more hummingbirds to feed at the same time would be to put up a few more feeders. Hang them at different heights about 3 feet away from each other, and the space should allow them to feed at the same time.

hummingbird calories

Why does this article claim that these little guys burn 12,000 calories per day when the San Diego Zoo claims 7 calories per day. An ounce of pure sugar (4 fl oz of feeder mix) is only 111 calories. This is confusing me.

Hummingbird Calories

Thanks for catching that! It seems to be a common misconception that hummingbirds consume so many calories. We’ve updated the page accordingly.

humming bird tree

dont exact name think silk tree but has tulips flowers that last all year it attracts butterflies and humming birds. sell farmer seed catalog with there version heart nut tree looks like horse shoe nut. not walnut kind. They have another tree called tulips tree. it looks like good humming birds but is not. so make sure get right one. silk tree has bright orange flowers something different white apple trees good state high up as ohio

Pages