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Plants that Attract Hummingbirds | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

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Attract hummingbirds with this list of plants that they’ll find delicious.

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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

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Bring on the hummingbirds! For centuries, gardeners have been fascinated with the beauty and aerobatics of these flying jewels. The key to attracting hummingbirds to your garden is to plant nectar-rich flowers and provide a friendly habitat. See our plant list and tips!

Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds

Brightly-colored flowers that are tubular tend to produce 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.

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

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 purple flowers

Creating a Hummingbird-Friendly Yard

Hummingbirds also need a habitat that will give them food, water, shelter, and security. Here’s what attracts hummingbirds:

  • Provide lots of space between plants to give hummingbirds enough room to hover and navigate from flower to flower.
  • Hummingbirds need shade. 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.
  • 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.

→ 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 feeder

Fun Facts About Hummingbirds

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 to be living sun catchers—hence one 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.
  • They can hover in mid-air 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.

Related Articles

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

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!

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