Plants That Attract Hummingbirds: Make Your Yard A Hummingbird Magnet
The southwest is home to more hummingbirds than any other region of the US. Some hummingbirds are year-round residents in the American South and West, but there are about a dozen species that migrate to and from the warm winter climates of Mexico and Central America. These tiny pollinators travel thousands of miles – including long stretches over water – so they need plenty of energy reserves! To help them fuel up for their flight, plant generous groupings of plants with natural nectar.
Gardening to attract hummingbirds is easy to do. By providing water, shelter, and an assortment of colorful flowering plants, you will be rewarded with the company of these wonderful wild birds. You will also help ensure their future by replacing food and habitats that have been lost due to human activities like agriculture and urbanization.
Delight in seeing these winged jewels darting from flower to flower in search of their next sip of nectar. Jump to a section to learn more!
Growing Food For Hummingbirds
"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.
Hummingbird Favorite Plants For Spring And Summer
It's important to include these earlier-blooming perennials for late spring and early summer color, to provide nectar for the earliest migrating hummingbirds returning to your garden.
- Arp Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis Arp)
- Beardtongue (Penstemon)
- Columbine (Aquilegia)
- Coral Bells (Heuchera)
- Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
Hummingbird Favorites For Mid-Summer Through Fall
The presence of these later bloomers will ensure an abundance of hummingbirds at the height of their southward migration. To attract hummingbirds from mid-summer through the fall, plant the following suggestions:
- Agastache (Hummingbird Mint)
- Texas Red Yucca (Hesperaloe)
- Redbirds in a Tree (Scrophularia Macrantha)
- Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)
- Bee Balm (Monarda)
- Sage (Salvia)
- Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria)
Looking for further inspiration? See David Salman's Hummingbird Garden Plant List.
Offer Fresh Water For Hummingbirds
- Provide moving water, such as a small fountain or a source of dripping or spraying water. Hummingbirds prefer moving water, such as water sources that drip or spray, not a birdbath with standing water.
- A fountain with multiple tiers that drip, or a very low volume mist nozzle attached to a branch or tree trunk is ideal.
- Remember to locate the mist nozzle or fountain in the open, situated away from hiding spots where cats can hide and ambush the birds.
Create Shelter For Hummingbirds
- Hummingbirds love a bare branch devoid of foliage on which to sit, so remember not to be too quick to clean up dead branches on the tops of shrubs or lower branches of trees.
- Conifers, shade trees and taller shrubs, will provide a sheltered perch where the hummingbirds can rest, build nests and safely survey their garden domain.
- Placing small handfuls of clothes drier lint in the branches will provide material for the "hummers" to build their nests.
Long-Blooming Plants That Attract Hummingbirds
- To fill in the back of the perennial border, the easy to grow Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) is unsurpassed. This late summer blooming shrub comes in a range of colors, including burgundy, pink, purple, and lavender. A difficult to find but wonderful Spring Blooming Butterfly Bush, Buddleia alternifolia, produces long, graceful flower spikes that hummingbirds and butterflies love.
- Trumpet Vine (Campsis) is a vigorous plant, useful for covering large expanses of fence or wall. It has large trumpet-shaped flowers in yellow and various shades of orange.
- The scarlet or orange flowered honeysuckles, Lonicera, offer the gardener a more refined and smaller growing choice for small fences and trellises.
Wildflowers & Flower Bulbs For Hummingbirds
- When planning your hummingbird garden, don't forget to consider wildflowers and spring-planted bulbs!
- Planting wildflowers from seed can be a good option for filling containers, new garden beds, and meadows with abundant nectar-rich blooms. Favorites include Zinnias, Cleome, Mexican Sunflowers, and our hummingbird-friendly mixes. Shop Wildflowers For Hummingbirds.
- Spring-planted flower bulbs are a good complement to perennials - since they grow to full size in their first season, they can attract hummingbirds while perennials grow to their mature size. Favorites include Crocosmia, Gladiolus, Callas, and Cannas. Shop Spring-Planted Bulbs for Hummingbirds.
- The Hummingbirds Are Back! Learn more about David Salman's Hummingbird Garden.
- Learn more about the miles these tiny pollinators cover each season! Hummingbird Migration: How Gardeners Can Support The Journey South
- Working To Protect A Jewel Of The Americas: An interview with the late Ross Hawkins, founder of The Hummingbird Society.
- High Country Gardens is proud to have been one of the original sponsors of The Hummingbird Society. To learn more about how to keep hummingbirds buzzing in your garden all season long, visit The Hummingbird Society.
Fill Your Garden With Natural Nectar - Shop Hummingbird Plants
Lonicera sempervirens ‚Major Wheeler‚ (Honeysuckle Vine) is a non-stop bloomer coloring the garden from late spring through the summer with showy clusters of orange-red f...Learn MoreMajor Wheeler Honeysuckle Vine Major Wheeler Honeysuckle Vine Lonicera sempervirens Major Wheeler$14.99 Sale $12.74Sale Price I Save 15%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Perovskia atriplicifolia ‚Blue Spires‚ (Russian Sage) is the best large growing Russian Sage selection blooming with dark blue flower spikes appearing in mid-summer. Thou...Learn MoreBlue Spires Russian Sage Blue Spires Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia Blue Spires$12.99 Sale $10.39Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
30-36„ tall x 18„ wide. Golden Spur columbine yellow blooms for months beginning in late spring with a profusion of large, cheerful yellow flowers that attract hummingbir...Learn MoreGolden Spur Columbine Golden Spur Columbine Aquilegia chrysantha$11.99 Sale $9.59Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain Columbine) is planted for its beautiful blue and white flowers. Native to the higher elevations of the intermountain West, is best suited to mounta...Learn MoreRocky Mountain Columbine Rocky Mountain Columbine Aquilegia caerulea$11.99 Sale $9.59Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Exclusive. Salvia Ultra Violet is a great new cold-hardy Salvia greggii hybrid with showy violet-pink colored flowers. This Sage selection has demonstrated exceptional cold hardiness...Learn MoreUltra Violet Salvia Ultra Violet Hybrid Sage Salvia Ultra Violet PP#21,411$12.99 Sale $11.04Sale Price I Save 15%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Little Lanterns is a dwarf selection of a columbine native to the Eastern US. The nodding bright red and yellow flowers appear in late spring and are magnets for hummingbirds....Learn MoreLittle Lanterns Columbine Little Lanterns Columbine Aquilegia canadensis Little Lanterns$11.99 Sale $9.59Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Physostegia virginiana ‚Crystal Peak White‚ is an award winning variety of our native Obedient Plant. ‚Crystal Peak White‚ blooms in mid-summer with numerous ...Learn MoreCrystal Peak White Obedient Plant Crystal Peak White Obedient Plant Physostegia virginiana Crystal Peak White$11.99 Sale $10.19Sale Price I Save 15%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Pfitzer‚s Hybrid Mix‚ is an outstanding selection of Red Hot Poker with showy spikes of tubular orange and yellow flowers. Native to South Africa, this durable wildflower...Learn MorePfitzer Red Hot Poker Mix Pfitzer Red Hot Poker Mix Kniphofia uvaria Pfitzer Hybrid Mix$11.99 Sale $9.59Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Additional Resources For Hummingbird Gardens
David Salman's Hummingbird Gardens
Support Hummingbird Migration With Your Garden
Planting For Hummingbirds