Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
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

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

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

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...

Are Hummingbirds attracted to

Are Hummingbirds attracted to the Crimson Passion Flowering Vine? I have a only a few hummers and would like to attract more.

Yes, passion flowers attract

Yes, passion flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Everyone says hummingbirds

Everyone says hummingbirds are attracted to red. I take photos of hummingbirds in the Southern California area. They are attracted to all nectar-sweet flowers and all colors. Here is a slideshow showing many flowers they come to in the Los Angeles area; yellow and orange aloe, lavender Mexican sage, white and purple butterfly bush, bird of paradise, Mexican bird of paradise. In our area are Rufous, Anna's, Allen's and Black-chinned hummingbirds.
https://youtu.be/iWLL3VrAgcI

My husband bought me a

My husband bought me a Hummingbird swing and I would like to know a good location to place it. Are they okay to be near a feeder? Thank you

Hi Mimi, Thanks for asking.

Hi Mimi,
Thanks for asking. Yes, put the swing near a feeder.

I live in Tucson and have one

I live in Tucson and have one feeder during the winter which usually has several hummers feeding. Even though my feeder is supposed to be bee proof the bees started attacking the feeder and sucking it dry in a day or two. My flowers are all in a "greenhouse" for the winter. I have tried jelly to distract the bees and that worked for about 2 or 3 days and then they were back at the feeder. What can I do to provide for my hummers? Do you think additional feeders will help or will the bees just move from one to the other?

Some tube feeders can be

Some tube feeders can be drippy, which attracts bees. Be sure to wipe the feeder clean of sugar solution each time you refresh it, and check for drips each day.
Some say that a saucer or basin type feeder works well, and has less drips that would encourage bees. It places the food too far down for the bees to reach, but the long hummingbird tongues can get to it.
Other tips include placing a second feeder in shade. Bees tend to go for those in the sun.
Avoid feeders that have yellow on them, as this color can attract certain bees.
You might also try changing the solution to have less sugar. For example, if you are using 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, change it to 5 parts water to 1 part sugar.
You can also try moving the feeder to a different location several feet away--some insects may not catch on where the food went. Or, you can remove the feeder for a few days, which might encourage the bees to look for other food sources instead.

Thank you. I will try your

Thank you. I will try your suggestions and see what happens.

I live in Pensacola, FL and I

I live in Pensacola, FL and I have never seen a humming bird here. I have a feeder out with food. Are they native to this area?
Thanks
Gaynelle

There are 16 hummingbird

There are 16 hummingbird species that live in North America. Several species have been seen in Florida, and three are native: ruby-throated, rufous, and black-chinned, with the ruby-throated being the most common. You might be interested in these sites, which provide information and photos about some species:
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw059
http://floridahummingbirds.net...
To increase the chances of attracting hummingbirds to your yard, plant a few hummingbird plants. These will provide better food (nectar) for the birds than sugar water in the feeders. Although they like the feeders, for them to get the energy they need for daily tasks and migration, they'll need lots of nectar. The first site mentioned here lists hummingbird plants for parts of Florida. The guidelines of the article on Almanac.com also will help you choose plants to invite the birds.
For more Florida plant lists, see:
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas...
 
 

I also live in Pensacola, Fl.

I also live in Pensacola, Fl. Saw my first hummingbird of the year last Saturday. I have begonias, petunias, geranium, pansies,chenille plants, and some lilies on the patio and in the planter. I also have a feeder with 4:1 sugar:water. Since putting up the feeder I have seen a few drinking from it. Can get hot here so I am already changing the water every other day in the spring. Just keep looking because they are in Pensacola and then gone in a minute. We are part of their migration route Love to watch the birds and happy to see this website.

I do have a question for the moderator. I read about 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. I have been using the latter but some say the 3:1 is closer to trumpet vine. Curious what you think?

4:1 is the recommended ratio

4:1 is the recommended ratio

After learning that

After learning that hummingbird migration patterns bring hummers to the Northeast (we live in western Massachusetts) as early as mid-April, I put out my feeders the last week of April. Within about 10 days, we started seeing hummingbirds on a regular daily basis, both female and male. I also have a variety of hummingbird-attracting shrubs, perennials and annuals. We live in a fairly densely populated area of a small town. All of a sudden, about the first week of June, we stopped seeing the hummingbirds altogether. Any thoughts on what may have happened? I'm worried maybe their nest was destroyed, obliging them to move elsewhere.

The hummingbirds are likely

The hummingbirds are likely nesting.

Last year I had approximately

Last year I had approximately 15 hummingbirds. 5 feeders. This year started with 2 and now none. Whats up. Miss watching them. Making my own nectar 4 to 1 like I have read. Changed out nectar weekly still no birds. Thinking of painting my feeders red. Should I increase the amout of sugar in my nectar?

Hi, Aleta: Since you've had

Hi, Aleta: Since you've had success before, this may have more to do with your returning population than with your presentation. Perhaps predators have had an effect. Perhaps some other food source is outcompeting you. You seem experienced enough to know to make sure that your feeders are meticulously clean, well spaced, and so forth. Experiment with your feeders. We use 4:1 ourselves, too, but try one or two with 3:1. Paint one or two red, with different types of paint if possible. Change some locations, perhaps closer to hummingbird-friendly flowers. Has anything changed near your feeders from last year to this year? Sometimes we overlook the obvious. Hummingbird populations can vary from year to year, too. Keep trying!

Hi Aleta, Try changing the

Hi Aleta,
Try changing the feeders every day or every other day. They much prefer fresh food, especially in warmer/hotter climates. My husband and I put a feeder out about two weeks ago, the first day we put it out we saw one hummingbird, the second day the hummingbird was back. After that we didn't see it again until the work was out and we changed the food. The hummingbird was back within the first hour of the feeder being changed. The lady that runs the Wild Bird Shop near our house said it was important to changed it every day, every other day worst case.

I leave my feeders out until

I leave my feeders out until empty.. My birds keep coming back every year . I will usually keep a fresh batch in the frig and when lots of birds show up I put more feeders out, funny how they prefer the cold mix over the old. I have numerous turks caps which they love .
Huffman tx

I live in eastern Idaho,

I live in eastern Idaho, elevation 5,000 ft, what plants are best for hummingbirds.

We had a burn pile smoking

We had a burn pile smoking this morning and I noticed a humming bird hovering in the smoke and then 2 others going near another pile that was not burning. What might they be doing?

I believe the hummingbirds

I believe the hummingbirds eat ash. I've seen them do this several times, the day after we had a fire. Couldn't say why, but it's the weirdest thing to watch.

I live in the Northeast

I live in the Northeast region( Hudson Valley, NY). And like to know what kind of bushes or perenials near the porch that doesn't grow too hi. Also would attracted hummingbirds.

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much.

My Texas Sage seems to please

My Texas Sage seems to please the visiting hummingbirds in my backyard.

Something I discovered recently is not on the above list of 'Hummingbird Facts'.

They like to perch on a swing. In fact, they spend a good part of their day sitting or perching.

I suggest you purchase a hummingbird swing.

Pages