There's no better way to interact with nature than to have a hummingbird garden. Hummingbirds are beautiful, energetic, and a delight to watch. Luckily, there are lots of stunning flowers that attract and nourish hummingbirds, so while you're enjoying their antics, they'll be getting a tasty meal.
Hummingbirds are teeny tiny birds that average about 2-4 inches long and are known for their rapid movement. They have earned the nickname “flying jewels” because of their iridescent feathers. Hummingbirds have long beaks so that they can drink nectar from the flower.
There are sixteen varieties of hummers that live in the United States, only one of which – the ruby-throated hummingbird – lives east of the Mississippi River.
Planting flowers that attract hummingbirds is a smart idea because when hummingbirds find a “friendly” landscape, they will return year after year. If your landscaping provides shelter and water, they'll even raise babies and increase your population.
Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds
1. Azalea (Rhododendron)
Azaleas are part of the rhododendron family and come in both evergreen and deciduous varieties. You can find plants that range from 12 inches to 12 feet tall, so there's one for any space.
Azaleas grow in zones 6-9 and need a soil pH between 5-6.5. They're not that fussy otherwise, and hummingbirds love them. Just be sure they have good drainage because they can't stand wet feet.
2. Bee Balm (Monarda)
Also referred to as bergamot or monarda, bee balm has unusual, spiky blossoms. It can be found in a wide range of colors from pink and red to orange and is incredibly fragrant. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love the rich nectar.
A member of the mint family, it's a hardy plant that also makes wonderful medicinal salves and lotions. Additionally, the flowers are edible and liven up any salad.
Bee Balm does best in full sun with plenty of air circulation. It grows 12-36 inches high. A perennial, it does best in zones 4-9.
3. Beard Tongue (Penstemon)
Penstemon, also known as beard tongue, is a native of the U.S. and thrives in most of the western part of the country. It's one of those plants that attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies and bees with its sweet, abundant nectar.
Beard tongue blooms May to August with lavender, red, pink, or white blossoms. It grows in poor soil and can handle a little drought and thrives in zones 3-8.
4. Bird of Paradise (Paradisaeidae)
The crane flower is a native of South America featuring bright flowers that resemble a bird in flight. They grow tall, up to 5 feet, with a 3-foot spread, making them a showy piece for your garden.
Bird of paradise plants need rich soil and regular water. It can't handle any frost, so its best grown in zones 10-12.
5. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
Butterfly bush is a small shrub that blooms all summer, making it a great addition to your hummingbird garden. The flowers come in pink, purple and blue on tall, spiky stems. As the name implies, butterflies love it, but the hummers find it delicious as well.
In addition to providing nectar, the butterfly bush is a great shelter plant for many species of small birds.
It's a drought tolerant plant that thrives in full sun and blooms all summer. Butterfly bush is a perennial that thrives in zones 5-10.
6. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Sometimes called lobelia, the bright red flowers of this plant grow on stalks that can reach up to 2 feet tall. It looks great in the back of beds.
Cardinal flowers do best in full sun or partial shade as long as it has moist, well-drained soil. A short-lived perennial, you will need to replant every 3 years. It grows in zones 2-9.
7. Catmint (Nepeta)
Catmint is a beautiful purple flower that attracts hummingbirds. It features grey-green foliage and trumpet-shaped blossom clusters. There are hundreds of species of nepeta, all with different colors of flowers or sizes of plants.
This plant is a particularly lovely option because it's long-lived and easy to care for. It even thrives in low-water gardens. It prefers full sun and grows in zones 4-8.
8. Columbine (Aquilegia)
Columbine is a western native that has unique, delicate flowers that bloom throughout the year. Hummingbirds are crazy for this gorgeous flower.
Columbine grows in poor soil, but it doesn't like too much sun in the heat of summer, so it's ideal for part shade in warm areas. This plant thrives in zones 3-9.
9. Coral Berry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Coral berries are sometimes referred to as Indian currant and buckbrush. This deciduous shrub produces pale, greenish-white flowers and later bright red berries. The berries are popular with songbirds.
When planting coral berries in your garden remember that the shrub is dense. When planted together becomes a natural fence. Coral berry is a woodland plant and prefers partial shade. It thrives in zones 3-7 and grows about 36-48 inches tall.
10. Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)
You may also have heard cup plant called Indian cup. A member of the aster family, it has yellow daisy-like flowers. Cup plant has wide leaves that, as the name implies, resemble a cup. These cups hold small amounts of water which attract hummers and butterflies.
It's a tall plant that grows 3-9 feet tall. Cup plant enjoys full sun, average soils, is hardy and drought tolerant, and thrives in zones 4-8.
11. Day Lily (Hemerocallis)
Daylilies are hardy and easy to grow. They're a short-lived flower – each bloom only survives for one day – but the plant produces numerous flowers. The blossoms are large and cup-shaped and high producers of rich nectar that attracts hummers and butterflies.
They're perennials and bloom in late spring and summer. Daylilies prefer full sun and well-drained soil. You can find daylilies in a wide variety of colors including yellow, red and purple. They grow in zones 3-9.
12. Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
Fuchsias are vibrant plants that bloom all summer long. They grow in sun, part shade, or full shade depending on your region, and they thrive in containers and hanging baskets. You can also eat the peppery berries.
Fuchsias need regular water and rich soil. Most are grown as annuals, but they can be perennials in zone 6.
13. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop is a pretty mint-like herb with whorls of purple blossoms that hummingbirds love. They get up to 2-feet tall and thrive in full sun or part shade. Hyssop grows in zones 3-10.
14. Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)
Impatiens are colorful annuals that do well in full shade. They need lots of water and fertile soil, but you don't have to deadhead them to get a continual harvest, which is a real plus.
15. Iris (Iridaceae)
There are hundreds of types of iris plants and hummingbirds love most of them. Bearded iris is perhaps the best-known type. These beautiful plants come in a rainbow of colors and most bloom in early summer. Irises like well-draining soil and lots of sun. They grow in zones 3-10.
16. Foxglove (Digitalis)
Foxgloves add vertical color to a garden, and while all parts of the plants are poisonous to humans, hummingbirds love them. Foxgloves come in white, lavender, yellow, pink, red, and purple.
These pretty flowers grow in full or part sun or even full shade in hot areas. They need well-drained soil and plenty of water. They're hardy in zones 4-10.
17. Lupine (Lupinus)
Lupines grow in colorful spikes up to 4 feet tall. In some areas of the U.S. they grow wild and are an important habitat for butterflies. The beautiful flowers attract hummingbirds as well. Lupines come in annual and perennial varieties.
Once you plant a lupine, don't plan on moving it. They have a long taproot and don't transplant well. They prefer average soil, lots of phosphorus, and are hardy in zones 3-7.
18. Petunia (Petunia)
Petunias are a popular bedding plant and liven up any garden with their wide-open, vibrant flowers. The delicate blossoms do best in full sun in an area protected from the wind. They're heat tolerant, which makes them an excellent flower for hot, sunny spots.
Petunias thrive in hanging baskets, which makes them a fun way to attract hummingbirds right on to your porch or patio. Deadheading will keep blooms appearing. Petunias are annuals except in the southern zones of 9 – 10.
19. Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Phlox produces clouds of colorful blossoms that attract hummingbirds. They come in nearly every color you can imagine. Many varieties are native to the U.S., so as you'd expect, they can be easy to grow.
They grow about 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide and bloom July through September. They don't mind a little shade and thrive in zones 4-8.
20. Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
You may have heard this flower called Eastern red columbine and wild columbine. Whatever you call it, this flower makes a fabulous bedding plant with unique bell-shaped, red flowers. They're medium size plants that grow about 24 inches tall.
The flowers are tubular and produce large quantities of nectar. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Red columbine enjoys full sun, moist, well-drained, and sandy soils. The plants are hardy in zones 3-9.
21. Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
Closely related to azaleas, rhododendrons are beautiful, low-maintenance plants that feature flowers that attract hummingbirds. There are over 1,000 varieties of rhododendron, and they vary widely in size and shape, so if you live in zones 4-8, you can probably find one perfect for your garden.
Rhododendron is picky about soil pH and needs something between 4.5-5.5. It requires well-drained, moist soil, and yearly fertilization. If you care for them properly, you'll have a long-lived shrub full of pretty flowers that attract hummingbirds.
22. Salvia (Salvia)
Salvias are the perfect flower for attracting hummingbirds in hot, dry climates. They are drought resistant and continue to produce nectar in the long days of summer. This makes them popular with hummers.
Salvia's small, delicate flowers grow on spikes that range from 1 to 4 feet tall depending on the variety. Flowers come in a range of colors from pink to purple to blue. However, the classic red ones are most popular with many hummingbird species.
They appreciate full sun and flower mid-summer through fall which helps to extend your summer bloom. They grow well throughout the USA in zones 4-11.
23. Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis)
In the south, we call this jewelweed and it's a great flower for hummingbirds. Touch-me-nots are a particular favorite of hummers during the fall migration. They have a long bloom time from June all the way into October.
Jewelweed is a tall self-seeding annual. It grows up to 5 feet tall but has weak stems and is prone to falling over during summer storms. Wire plant supports with help keep them upright. They look wonderful in a Victorian or wild garden where their silky stalks can blow in the wind.
They produce two types of flowers: One a small, orange flower that produces nectar. The second one is a seed pod that “pops” when touched. Thus the name touch-me-not.
Jewelweed grows best in, part shade or sun and is native to fields along the forest edges. This is an extremely hardy plant and adapts well to various climates. In fact, it is hardy in zones 2-11.
24. Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans)
Trumpet creeper is also known as trumpet vine, foxglove vine, and hummingbird vine, which should give you a clue to how much the tiny birds like this plant. As far as flowers that attract hummingbirds go, this one is a sure-fire attractor.
Trumpet vine is a climbing vine that can reach 30 feet long. It spreads aggressively, so pick a location carefully. They also need the support of a fence or trellis.
Trumpet creeper produces orange or reddish flowers that are shaped like a trumpet. The flowers themselves are large and the tiny hummingbird almost disappears inside. They also have fruit pods which grow up to 6 inches long. They do best in full sun and well-drained soils with regular watering. The plant is hardy in zones 4-9.
25. Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Also known as coral honeysuckle or Woodbine, this twining vine grows up to 20 feet long with vibrant red blooms. It isn't too aggressive, and hummingbirds love the sweet nectar. It blooms in the early spring through early summer and prefers full sun or part shade. Trumpet honeysuckle can handle a range of soils and thrives in zones 4-9.
26. Verbena (Verbena officinalis)
Verbena blooms all summer long, performing even during the hottest summer days. It needs full sun – at least 8 hours – and while it can handle poor soil, it can't tolerate wet feet.
27. Weigela (Weigela)
This pretty shrub blossoms profusely during the spring and again in the summer with gorgeous flowers that attract hummingbirds. It's hardy and low maintenance and can get up to 10 feet tall and wide. It flowers best in full sun, but you can get away with part shade as well. They're hardy in zones 4-8.
28. Zinnia (Zinnia)
Zinnias are a must-have in a garden if you want to attract hummingbirds. They are an easy to grow annual and look great in flower beds or planters.
Zinnias are a favorite in the cut flower trade because of their tall reliable flowers, which come in a variety of colors like pink, red, orange, white, or the traditional yellow.
They bloom repeatedly over the summer and into mid-fall. Zinnias are another flower that helps migrating hummingbirds.
Not all plants produce the same level of valuable nectar. Your pretty flower beds full of inpatients and pansies are bred to be attractive to humans not provide food for birds. If you really want to provide a healthy meal, mix in a few native plant varieties with your garden.
Local hummingbird species are adapted to seek out native plants that are reliable sources of food. You can contact your local Audubon Society to learn about native plants in your area.
Landscaping Tips for Your Hummingbird Garden
It's not enough to select the right plants and pop them in the ground. There are other things you can do to make sure your garden attracts hummingbirds.
- Plant three or more plants of one species to provide ample nectar
- Select plants that bloom in different seasons
- Hummers love brightly colored flowers with long tubes
- Prune plants to encourage flowers and eliminate stem growth
- Hummingbirds also eat insects so provide insect-friendly plants
- Grow nest building plants such as pussy willow, ferns, and dandelions
- Provide a shallow water dish for drinking and bathing
- Plant small trees for nesting such as crabapples, redbuds, and Buckeyes.
- Grow organically. Insecticides kill hummingbirds.
There may be times when you don't have enough blossoms and you want to supplement your hummingbird's diet. You can put out a hummingbird feeder to give your fast feathered friends a boost.
Hummingbird feeders are designed to let the birds drink a sugar water solution. You can purchase hummingbird food or make your own.
How to make homemade hummingbird food
- Put one cup of sugar in a large bowl
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil
- Pour boiling water over the sugar and stir till it dissolves
- Let the water sugar solution cool completely
- Add to your feeder
- Do not add red food coloring as this is unnecessary and is unhealthy for the birds
It's important to clean your hummingbird feeder every 3 days to keep the hummers healthy by killing bacteria and discouraging ants. Rinse the feeder well and dry before refilling.
Place your hummingbird feeder outside a window or near a deck where you can enjoy watching them. Hummingbirds can be territorial over feeders so if you have birds fighting you may want to add an additional feeder.
Now sit back and enjoy the show as these jeweled birds visit your hummingbird garden.