"As a result of their unique but inefficient means of flight, they must consume enormous amounts of food each day, with nectar often amounting to 100-200% of their body weight." - The Hummingbird Society
When it comes to feeding hummingbirds, natural nectar is best. "Natural nectar" refers to the nectar that comes from flowers. In the diet of a hummingbird, comparing natural nectar to the sugar water in hummingbird feeders is like comparing an organic fruit smoothie to a soda. While many non-gardeners use hummingbird feeders as nectar sources, we encourage gardeners to go with plants as much as possible. Plus, planting a garden brings added beauty to the landscape and an appreciation and understanding of how the natural world is interconnected.
Hummingbird favorites typically have long, tubular blossoms. The shape accommodates their long, slender beaks for a sip of nectar, and limits insect access to the nectar inside. Hummingbirds seek flowers by sight, rather than scent, and they are most often attracted to vivid colors including red, pink, orange, yellow, blue/purple.
Hummingbirds do not live on nectar alone: they also need protein! Hummingbirds eat tiny insects and spiders to balance out their diet. The added benefit of planting a hummingbird garden is that in addition to nectar, plants also provide habitat for the insects required to feed hummingbirds.
Planting a variety of plants with different blooming times will help to keep hummingbirds happy all season. Our top recommendations for hummingbird favorites with abundant natural nectar are listed below.