Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

February 11, 2020
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: How to Create the Perfect Environment

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, water, 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

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Bushes for attracting hummers

So glad I found this site. We live just north of Chicago and have 4-5 hummers all summer long. Our sister and husband live in Huston, TX. They have a bush that is called Hummingbird Bush that attracts hummers and butterfly's. I've looked up the name, but have had no luck finding any information. By any chance do you know which bush this is and would it grow in our zone, which I believe is 5.

hummingbird bush

The Editors's picture

Perhaps you are thinking of the “Butterfly Bush”? This bush is also a top hummingbird attractor. It’s called Buddleia davidii and fine for zone 5. You can learn more about it here: http://www.almanac.com/plant/butterfly-bush

Hummingbird Bush

I just happened to see your question for the Old Farmer's Almanac in October of last year about the "Hummingbird Bush" in Houston, TX. Almanac got it wrong... I'm in Houston & the bush is Hamelia Patens. It loses its leaves in the Winter here. Go to davesgarden.com to find out if it can grow in that zone. That site is a good knowledgeable source for any questions you might have.

hummingbird bush

The Editors's picture

Thank you for your feedback. You are correct, there is a “hummingbird bush,” also called fire bush, scarlet bush, and other names, that is Hamelia patens. This bush is hardy in Zones 8 to 11; it may die back in a freeze in Zones 8 and 9, but will recover. Houston is USDA Hardiness Zone 8b. Hamelia patens likely would not do well in the previous reader’s Zone 5, but it may have been the bush that the reader had in mind.

Hummingbird Bush

There is a species of the Summersweet shrub that is called a Hummingbird bush. Long white flowers similar to the Butterfly Bush. Hummers, Bees and Butterflies all like it. The other variety of Summersweet they like is called Vanilla Spice.

hummingbird picture

Hello may I use this hummingbird picture for my facebook business page?

hummingbird photo

The Editors's picture

Yes, this particular photo is fine to use. Thanks for asking!

Hummingbird Health

There's a photo on this site showing a hummingbird feeder with red liquid in it. Please inform your readers that the red dye in the store-bought liquid is dangerous to hummingbirds, and that they should buy clear liquid or simply make their own sugar water. If they want to attract the hummingbirds using the color red, it's very effective to tie a red ribbon around some part of the hummingbird feeder. I've attracted lots of hummers using a single red ribbon and clear liquid. Here's to the good health of our delightful little friends!

hummingbird food

The Editors's picture

Hi Barbara, Thank you for your feedback. You are indeed correct that hummingbirds don’t need red dye in the feeder, especially as most feeders have some type of red plastic at the base to help attract them. Although some scientists do not agree, there is the possibility that certain red dyes may cause health problems for the birds. With this is mind, just use plain sugar water without the dye; as you have found, it works just as well, and is closer to the nectar that they feed on in the wild. It is also important to clean the feeder routinely and refill with new food to keep free of mold. Use 1 part white sugar with 4 parts water–do not use honey. We have removed the photo. Thank you, The Old Farmer’s Almanac editors.

Hi, I just found ur site.

Hi, I just found ur site. This is great. I have a hummingbird visit every year for 5 years. I plant petunias galore and feeder. I now keep real clean. Thanks for info. One thing though, I have peach orangey gladiolus. That's what he likes. He sits on the plastic tie on the stakes and goes crazy. I was able to get a pic. So wonderful. Also purple bristle brush flowers,I think Liatris. He prefers the glads over the rest. I didn't see that mentioned so I thought I would let ya'll know. I live in Gig Harbor,Wa. Just love the little guys. Thanks again.

Hi! I live on the Jersey

Hi! I live on the Jersey shore, Seaside Heights, before Sandy storm lived here for 13 yrs. now back again, I'm wondering if I can attract them here??? I enjoyed them for 3 yrs in Manchester Twp and hoping to see them again! Trying anything!!!

Humming Right Along

The Editors's picture

Hi, Joyce: There’s no real reason that they couldn’t come to Seaside, assuming that you don’t live under some sort of permanent salt spray. Follow the tips in the text above and in the thread involving “Sarah” on April 25 below. And be patient. Plant the flowers. Put out your feeders and keep them fresh and clean. And be in there for the long haul seasonwise. When one source of food “dries up,” hummers even at the end of summer will go looking for the next best thing–which could be yours. And once they find you, they will stick with you if you stick with them. Good luck!

Thank you! I know it's early

Thank you! I know it's early and I will not give up! I've started with a beautiful fuchsia plant hanging near feeder!

That sound?

The Editors's picture

Hi, again, Joyce: That’s the spirit! What’s that whirring sound we hear?!!

Hummers in seaside heights

I just seen my first hummer at my feeder!!! I am so happy!!! Lol

Hummingbirds

I'm new at this. I have a red hummingbird feeder. I placed it on my fence. It does have part shade near a small tree. Put sugar water in it. Have not seen one hummingbird. So disappointed. Help

Hummingbirds

Depending on where you live the hummers are just arriving. The best way to attract them to your yard is to plant some of the flowers listed in the article -- lots of them, in fact. Once the hummers are attracted to the flowers, they will also find your feeder. However, be sure to clean the feeder often. If a hummer finds moldy sugar solution they won't be back and the mold can actually harm the hummers. I wash my feeders twice a week in warm weather or even more frequently if it is really hot. Look up directions for how to wash them. No soap!

Hummingbirds

The Editors's picture

As Sarah has advised, planting flowers, or even providing a hanging basket of long tubular flowers such as those mentioned in our article will help to attract the birds. Having the tree nearby is good, and the feeder in part shade. Keep up with fresh food, as well. Also, the hummingbirds are just arriving in the north, as far as the ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only one we have in the eastern half of the United States. The West enjoys several species of hummingbirds. There are several migration maps on the Web that tell you when the hummingbirds are arriving across the nation, including some up for Spring 2016, such as:

http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

It may take a while for the birds to discover your feeder, but you’ll likely find that they will start appearing within a month.

what types of plants would

what types of plants would robins like?

Plants Robins Like

The Editors's picture

Here are some plants that attract robins: Mulberries (Morus species), Serviceberries (Amelanchier species), Crabapples (Malus species), Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), Nannyberry, arrowwood (Viburnum species), Winterberry (holly) (Ilex verticillata), and Wild Grapes. They love fruiting trees. They also need a source of water. 

Hummers love this flower but

Hummers love this flower but I do not know what it is...Could you identify it for me?

Thank You

Paulette

I was doubtful at first but I

I was doubtful at first but I am very pleased to see hummingbirds visiting my feeder. There are honeysuckle vines, lupines, hot poker, salvia, weigela, foxgloves, cardinal flower, bee balm, butterfly bushes, and penstemons in my backyard. So far, I have only seen the weigelas, some salvias, some bee balms, and a butterfly bush blooming. Do you have a recommedation list of plants that bloom according to seasons? I am seeing gaps in blooming and only have a feeder as a constant source of nectar.

Hi Frank, Here's a link to a

The Editors's picture

Hi Frank,
Here's a link to a helpful page with lots of flowers for spring/summer/fall.
www.njaudubon.org/Portals/10/B...
 

Thank you for this web link.

Thank you for this web link. I really like the chocolate cakes for hummingbirds. To encourage watching hummingbirds, I was given two red buckeye trees this past weekend. What tip(s) are worth considering in planting trees as part of a hummingbird habit?

By far our best loved flower

By far our best loved flower for the hummingbirds is simple, old-fashioned Four o'clocks. We throw the seed in the box on the side of our bed every spring and have a lush bed of flowers that last long ito fall.

I noticed that some websites

I noticed that some websites think 3:1 is better than the 4:1 ratio. It seems that we are all using 4:1. One website said that the higher concentration of sugar was closer to the trumpet flower. Any thoughts on this?

4:1 ratio is pretty close to

The Editors's picture

4:1 ratio is pretty close to the sugar concentration found in many flowers. In warmer weather the birds don't need as much energy as in spring and fall. It's common to up the ratio to 3:1 later in the summer when days are getting cooler and the birds are getting ready to fly south. A 3:1 ratio also spoils quicker in hot weather.

I have had very good luck

I have had very good luck with petunias, especially red, pink or purple, also with bright orange and yellow marigolds. I have also had them come to rose of sharon, columbine, impatiens, and cosmos. When we lived in Virgina I had hummer feeders every ten feet along our deck railing. If I forgot to refill the feeders (or the raccoon had been eating the candied ants from them) my birds would fly over to me, stop in front of my face and chirp at me. Once while gardening I had a hummer land on my hand while drinking from my marigolds. Totally awesome experience!!

I live in PA. Are there any

I live in PA. Are there any flowers that will attract hummingbirds that don't require alot of sun

Yes! You might find the

The Editors's picture

Yes! You might find the following page from the Penn State Extension useful--it contains a list of hummingbird plants. Look for those with the symbol "PS" for partial sun or "S" for shade. Options include bleeding hearts and Virigina bluebells in shade. In partial sun, trumpet honeysuckle, azaleas, coral bells, and scarlet sage are among the plants listed.
 
http://extension.psu.edu/natur...

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