Flowers to attract hummingbirds

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How to Attract Hummingbirds with Flowers and Water Features

We love watching hummingbirds at our home in Texas, and wherever our travels take us across the country.

We also enjoy hummingbird gardening, and designing our landscape to provide food and shelter for a variety of hummingbirds.

The Needs of the Hummingbird

Hummingbirds, like other birds and other animals, need food, water, and shelter, the basic necessities of life.

Hummingbird Shelter

Food and water seem obvious requirements, but shelter and protection are also important to attracting hummingbirds.

The dense foliage of trees provides not only protection but also a source of insects and the protein they provide. Trees and large shrubs provide a resting place between meals at the feeder or flowers.

Hummingbird Food in Nature

The hummingbird’s diet consists of nectar from flowers (red is the favorite color), small insects such as aphids and spiders, and sometimes even pollen and sap.

Hummingbirds feed in many small meals, consuming small invertebrates and up to twelve times their own body weight in nectar each day.

Many plant species rely on hummingbirds for pollination and provide nectar and tiny insects in exchange. Hummingbirds staunchly and aggressively defend a feeding area, or feeder, even when not feeding.

Water Features

Most birds in the wild appreciate a bird bath, either for drinking water or for bathing. Hummingbirds enjoy a “cool dip in the pool” on a warm morning or hot afternoon.

They enjoy shallow water, preferably with movement, like a small waterfall or gently flowing water. Many different brands, models and sizes of water features are available in the marketplace.

Some nature lovers use a small solar-powered pump to convert a standard birdbath to one with movement and sound. No wires! Flexible … move it around your yard.

Landscape and Flower Selections That Work Well

And a wonderful by-product of gardening for hummingbirds: Butterflies!

Favorite flowers of hummingbirds are often red in color, and tubular in shape, so we include many plants with these features.

We plant flowers, shrubs and trees that help the hummingbirds acquire the nectar and food they need to thrive. Our landscape features a number of different ecological environments. It is in the country, and backs up to hundreds of acres of forest, with nearby fields and pastures.

We often have over 40 Ruby-Throated hummingbirds on our feeders at one time during the fall migration southward through Texas. At times we are also blessed with several brightly colored Baltimore Orioles on our feeders!

Butterfly Bush

We currently have an assortment of butterfly bushes planted, and all are favorites of the butterflies as well as hummingbirds.


A hummingbird favorite in the landscape: Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) usually bloom from mid-July through frost, producing long 4-5 inch flower spikes which look and smell like miniature lilacs.

Buddleias produce a honey-scented fragrance that lures butterflies to its blooms, and then once there, they find the flowers super-rich in nectar.

We utilize both full-size and dwarf varieties, in white, purple and reddish colors. Full-size species can grow large in just one season in a mild climate, perhaps 6 feet high and 6 feet in diameter.

Make sure they are planted in well-drained soil, and resist the temptation to overwater them.

The major drawback to butterfly bushes is that they never drop their dead blooms. We cut the dead blooms periodically, and also trim the bushes in areas where space is a limitation. They are often frost proof to about 25 degrees; below that, they will freeze to the ground, and in milder climates spout and grow from their base the following spring.

Lantana


Easy to grow, heat tolerate: Lantana

We love lantana, as evidenced by the fact that we have over 45 plants growing now, consisting of several varieties, from yellow to white to red to orange.

Lantanas are perennials in much of the South, and will flower in full sun or light shade, preferably in well-drained soil. As semi-desert natives, they bloom best when not overfed or over watered.

They are winter-tolerate in much of the South, and even in areas where they freeze to near ground-level, they readily sprout again in the early days of spring.

Other Favorites of Hummingbirds

In addition to Lantana and Butterfly Bush, our landscape often includes Zinnias, Pentas, Milkweed, Salvia, Batface Cuphea, Hot Lips, Fire Bush, Nasturtiums, Coreopsis, and other hummingbird-friendly plants, annuals and perennials.


Another popular hummingbird plant: Batface Cuphea

But we also plant other blooms that, while they may not be hummingbird favorites, provide additional color in the landscape: Gladiolas, Geraniums, Hydrangeas, Impatiens, Verbena and roses. All deliver bright colors, and hummingbirds love color!

Other landing and feeding spots include (depending on the season) dozens of Azaleas, Pansies, Impatiens, Knockout Roses, Creeping Phlox, Daffodils, Hydrangeas, Portulaca and Gladiolas.

A Final Ingredient: The Hummingbird Feeder

Planting the right flowers is an important element in establishing the right environment for attracting hummingbirds.

But you need another key attractant: the hummingbird feeder! As the Texas migration peaks here in late August and early September, the hummingbirds start to share feeders, an action unheard of during the summer when defending a feeder is the norm.

As sharing continues, we will see 6-8-10 hummingbirds on a feeder at a time.

Read more about hummingbird feeders on this website

Most Popular Hummingbird Feeders This Year

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Hummingbird Garden Photographs

Shown below are a few photos of features of an effective butterfly garden, including shelter, a variety of flowers and hummingbird feeders!

Hummingbird garden with low-hanging feeder.

This is a great solution if you have no pets or raccoons! Put the feeders at eye-level for the enjoyment of the hummingbirds, and you!

Hummingbird feeder nestled in a Butterfly Bush … the hummers love it!

Photos of Hummingbird Garden Plants

Shown below are photos of several of the flowers that are popular and easy to grow in home gardens … all favorites of hummingbirds!

Zinnia

Orange Marigold

Purple Butterfly Bush

Purple Butterfly Bush up close

Purple Butterfly Bush with a Hummingbird Moth

White Butterfly Bush

Batface Cuphea

Hot Lips Salvia

Orange and Gold Lantana

White Lantana

White Pentas

Pink Pentas about to bloom

Fire Bush produces clusters of tubular, orange-red flowers. Attracts hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Red Hibiscus

Other Plants for the Landscape to Help Attract Hummingbirds

Other plants and flowers might not be hummingbird favorites, but we use these plants for additional color in the landscape … hummers love color, and are attracted to it! And the hummingbirds try all kinds of flowers!

Deep Orange Day Lily

Orange Bougainvillea

Purple Verbena

Mexican Heather

Ornamental Peppers

White Gladiolas

White Periwinkle

Red Geraniums

Pink Hydrangea

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Here are our 12 tips on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard. This can easily be accomplished by providing for their basic needs of food and water.

Through many years of experience; here are our full-proof, guaranteed tips to attract hummingbirds:

  • Display as much red as possible; such as red flowers, red feeders and hang red ribbons.
  • Supply a water source.
  • Plant trees or tall shrubs as perches.
  • Hang a protein/insect feeder as a source of protein.
  • Hang more feeders to attract more hummingbirds.
  • Create distance between feeders to establish more territories.
  • Change nectar often.
  • Don’t use red dyes/food coloring in homemade nectar.
  • Keep your feeders clean.
  • Deter ants with an ant moat.
  • Use bee resistant feeders.

Due to their fast metabolism; they have a high demand for nectar. If you supply this vital need of nectar with flowers or feeders you will surely attract hummingbirds.

Whether you are new to attracting hummingbirds for the first time or a seasoned hummingbird lover, our guaranteed tips will attract lots of hummers!

These birds are loyal and once they find a habitat that satisfies their needs, they faithfully return year after year.

Scroll down to learn more about attracting hummingbirds in detail.

How to Attract Hummingbirds with Feeders?

Hummingbirds do not have a strong sense of smell.
They do however have excellent sight and are attracted to bright colors, especially red feeders filled with nectar. Most feeders today have enough red on them to attract hummingbirds.
They are attracted to red and other bright colors because these same colors represent flowers that supply nectar for their huge appetite.

Feeders, of course, supply a food source for hummingbirds which is a primary necessity for survival. In much the same way as flowers. If your feeders are hung in an open area they will be easily detected/seen.
To initially attract hummingbirds for the first time, you can also hang red ribbons on your feeders which will help with their detection.

Take note……. Hummingbirds are territorial and are not likely to share “their” feeders. So, hang more feeders far enough apart to present more territories and to attract more birds.
Learn many more detailed tips about attracting with a hummingbird feeder.

NOTE: You can make your own nectar with a simple nectar recipe of sugar and water.
For convenience, many people simply purchase commercial nectar. But…..beware, never use commercial nectar that contains artificial red dye. This can be harmful even fatal to our friends.

New and Innovative Feeder!

Hummingbirds use the nectar for their energy needs because of their fast metabolism. Their prime food supplements necessary for survival are actually protein, vitamins and minerals. Insects supply these vital needs.

A great new protein feeder has come along recently called the “Humm-Bug Insect Feeder”; a brilliant idea which holds banana peels to attract insects which feed on the peels. If the feeder is displayed near nectar feeders, hummingbirds will also have have insects along with nectar available!

What Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?

Plants make flowers, flowers make nectar, nectar is food, food is survival for hummingbirds.

Therefore, brightly colored, high nectar producing flowers of plants will definitely coax a hummer to your garden.
Planting brightly colored flowers that attract hummingbirds or hanging flower baskets with plants will lure these jewel like birds in search of nectar.
If you would like to know how to attract hummingbirds with hummingbird flowers, there is a large variety to choose from.
Red, orange, and pink flowers with a high nectar reserve are preferred.

See our hummingbird flowers page for wide variety of different flowers, trees, shrubs and annuals.

Learn how to create a hummingbird habitat.

Another bonus………..feeding hummingbirds for your personal enjoyment also helps the eco-system.
These birds are pollinators and play an important roll in the life cycle of flowering plants.

Do Hummingbirds Use Perches?

Hummingbirds do not walk or hop but do perch about 80% of their life. They perch all night long to sleep. During the day they will use a perch to oversee and guard a flower garden, feeder or any other source of food.
After feeding, a perch supplies a comfortable spot to digest their food which usually takes about 20 minutes.

A perch also supplies a spot for maintenance, that is “preening”, which is removing built up debris in their feathers. They will fluff their feathers to loosen any dirt or debris and then remove it with their bill. This helps to keep them light and airy for flying.
Trees and shrubs are good for perching along with the not so obvious, clothes lines, fences or anything similar.
It’s fun to follow their flight and catch a glimpse of these miniature birds perching on a tiny leaf stem or branch.

Maybe a photo opportunity?

Will Supplying Water Bring Hummingbirds?

Water is necessary for hummingbirds just like any other living creature.
Some believe that nectar is a source for water but this is not the case, they need a separate source of pure water.
Hummingbirds can drink and bath in flight.
Watch your backyard come alive with hummingbirds as they fly through the sunlit mist of a garden hose mister or a solar powered misting birdbath.
Learn how to use water to attract hummingbirds.

Now that you know how to attract hummingbirds by supplying feeders, plants, perches and water; you now know how simple this venture can be!

Uninvited Guests?……Other Birds

You may be surprised to find other birds at your hummingbird feeders!

These larger birds often crowd out the tiny hummingbirds.
If your wondering what to do, read Hummingbird Feeders Attract Other Birds.

Our Experience with Attracting Hummingbirds!

Who knows what really prompted our passion for learning how to attract hummingbirds and care for them?

After a long, cold winter in the northeastern United States, it was Spring!

We hung a feeder on the plant basket hanger outside our kitchen window, and followed the instructions on the package recommending a stronger ratio of nectar for first time use.

We waited but it took awhile for our first visitor to arrive.

The Rest is History!

After our first visitors arrived, we thought, “If we hang more feeders, we might attract more hummingbirds!” We added 3 more feeders and sure enough we had more hummers visiting these additional feeders. Now we hang 12 feeders around our house outside of almost every window on the first floor. So we currently attract hummingbirds to all feeders and enjoy the sight of our little friends at a feeder in every room.

We planted a perennial garden with the sole purpose to attract hummingbirds. We added a water fountain in the garden to quench their thirst and planted a few small trees around the edges of the garden for perches.

Over the past 30 years this tiny bird has captured our hearts…….
as we expect it to capture yours!

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It is always nice to see hummingbirds charmingly flitting around the plants and flowers in your garden.

Who wouldn’t want to see these small, jewel-like hummers show off their acrobatic flight capabilities?

But of course, just like any other birds, planting the right plants and flowers is the key to attracting these flying creatures.

Known to be nectar feeders, hummingbirds look for sugary nectar to keep their wings flapping and their metabolism fast working. As humans who want to help these little birds, you need to create an ideal backyard habitat for them. Consider these plants and flowers that they love to visit in your garden.

1. Delphinium

Hummingbirds are always attracted to delphinium, which comes in various colors such as pink, white, and different shades of blue. The name “delphinium” is derived from Greek that means little dolphin. The reference is because of the bottle-like shape of the unopened flowers that resemble the shape of a dolphin’s nose.
Delphinium usually grows in early summer, around mid-June to early July. While these perennials are highly attractive to hummingbirds, they are poisonous to deer. In order to care for these plants, they need staking as stalks tend to snap easily in strong winds.
2. Daylily

Daylilies are known as a charm for hummingbirds. These birds do not possess a keen sense of smell so they mostly rely on bright colors to search for food. The bright colors and tubular hold of daylilies make them very attractive to hummingbirds.
These perennials bloom all summer and can grow either under full sun or partial shade. Their height can reach from 10 inches to 4 feet and width between 1½ to 4 feet.

Daylilies want to be mulched with shredded bark, leaves, or organic materials to prevent weeds and maintain a moist soil. Although they can grow without any attention, they tend to produce more flowers if they are divided about every five years.

3. Bee Balm

Aside from attracting hummingbirds and butterflies, red bee balm plants also have culinary and medicinal uses. Its flowers, for instance, are used to garnish and flavor salads and other cuisines. It can also be dried to create a spicy-sweet herbal tea. These plants can also treat skin irritations or rashes and can be made into a balm to cure bee stings.
Red bee balm tends to spread aggressively so it is recommended to divide the plants every few years. Promote re-blooming by deadheading the flowers. They are also prone to powdery mildew so make sure you give enough room for the air to properly circulate. When affected, trim them back to the ground right away and dispose of it appropriately.
4. Columbine

The nectar-filled five-spurred bell-like flowers of columbine blooms in perfect time as hummingbirds return from their winter break. The columbine has red flowers and their nectar is stored in long tubular portions, which fit perfectly for long-billed visitors like hummingbirds.
But columbine comes in just about any shade, including the famous bicolored blooms. It can survive both under full sun or shade during spring or early summer.
5. Butterfly Bush

As its name implies, Butterfly Bush attracts butterflies as its flowers emit a perfumery smell. This plant also has a long history with butterfly gardeners. Although hummingbirds have a poor sense of smell, the high nectar count and the bright-colored spikes that look like lilacs make this plant attractive to hummingbirds.
Butterfly Bush comes in different colors, and they grow in bushes so it can be easily spotted by hummingbirds. This plant demands full sun with well-drained soil. It requires little and simple care such as watering during dry periods and pruning as necessary.
6. Petunia

There are different petunia species, but the Petunia exserta is the only petunia pollinated by hummingbirds in the wild. Unlike others, the P. exserta is also the only one that blooms red flowers. The word “exserta” means pushed forward as both its stamen and stigma emerge from the corolla.
Although this species has just been recently discovered in 1987, it is already considered to be nearly extinct in the wild. In fact, there were only 14 specimens found for this plant during an expedition in 2007. In spite of its rarity, cultivating this plant is easy. It just needs full sun and a rich, well-drained soil.
7. Gayfeather

The lush, grassy foliage of gayfeather is very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. It flowers top down in shades of purple, rosy red, or white. Also known as Blazing Star, these perennials have a long season of interest, from mid-summer to fall.
This plant thrives in full sun and prefers moist, fertile, and well-drained soils. It does not need a lot of maintenance as it is highly disease-free and drought-tolerant.
8. Cardinal Flower

Cardinal flowers are another hummingbird magnet. For Ruby-throated hummingbirds, cardinal flowers are an excellent choice of nectar especially around mid-August to October. This type of plant can easily adapt and grow well on average, dry soil. It is a short-lived perennial that will self-sow so you can enjoy this for a few years without the need to re-plant.
Its flowers can grow up to 3 feet tall and its evergreen basal leaves can reach up to 1 foot across. Other than hummingbirds, cardinal flowers are pollinator-friendly as well. It can attract bees and butterflies.

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There are tons of other plant varieties that hummingbirds find attractive.

Do remember that while flying around the garden, hummingbirds spend so much energy. Thus, they need to eat at least half of their body weight each day to replace those calories that they burn. So, expect hummingbirds to be eating almost constantly in your garden while visiting thousands of flowers daily.

One great way to give them a comfortable spot to rest is a hummingbird feeder with a built-in red perch or a copper hummingbird swing.

Any time that you can make your backyard area more attractive to what hummingbirds find interesting and appealing, you’ll be rewarded!

25 Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds

Every bird fancier knows that certain species are attracted to certain plants – whether for food, protection or a place to roost overnight. For hummingbirds, plant selection is especially important since they have evolved to feed in a very specific manner. They require sugary nectar to keep their wings flapping and their metabolism running at the speed of a jackhammer.

In nature, that means they seek out flowering plants where they can harvest this nectar — usually from trumpet- or tube-shaped flowers. As humans, we’ve also helped these little birds along with hummingbird feeders. The ideal backyard habitat, however, includes a mix of hummingbird feeders and hummingbird flowers, and with a little gardening know-how, you can open up your yard to a steady parade of hummingbirds.

Setting aside time and space to develop such a welcoming habitat isn’t as difficult as you think. All you need to do is plant a few bushes and flowers and let nature do the rest. For the most part, hummingbird-friendly flora requires only a few hours of maintenance a year.

Hummingbirds and the Color of Attraction

The first thing you need in any hummingbird birdscape is color. You’ve probably noticed that many Perky-PetⓇ Hummingbird Feeders have splashes of red. That’s because many hummingbirds have learned to investigate red-colored objects. There’s even been reports of the hummers zipping up to people wearing red shirts, investigating a flickering wind spinner or even carefully examining red-handled garden tools to see if they can grab a sugary treat.

Sure, hummingbirds are curious about other colors too – oranges, purples and yellows – but red can really entice them into a yard and a hummingbird feeder or two is the best all-season way to do it. After all, feeders don’t wilt in the sun or fail to bloom after a frost.

Unlike plants, feeders are around for good and offer a steady supply of food. The only way a feeder can fail is if the homeowner forgets to refill and clean them. That’s where you become an important part of a hummingbird’s life: Once a hummingbird finds a “garden” of well-maintained hummingbird feeders it’s going want to stick around.

At that point, it’s also helpful to make your yard an inviting birdscape. You want your yard to be the perfect home for a hummer, and you can do that by offering shelter and additional sources of food. The more comforts you have available, the more hummingbirds will visit your feeders.

Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

Making a natural habitat for hummingbirds is key to enhancing their stay. That means you’ll want plenty of hummingbird plants for them to use as food sources and a place to roost and rest.

Our list below includes four divisions of hummingbird flowers and plants. The first section covers flowers — these are mostly annuals that you’ll need to replant each year. Next are flowering shrubs and bushes, which work great as ornamental features around the home. Third we offer a short list of flowering trees that hummingbirds can use as food sources. Finally, the list includes a variety of vines that can be planted near a trellis, fence or arbor.

* Several species are suitable for hummingbirds

Not all of these plants will be perfect for your temperature zone and specific climate. It’s best to check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and find out which of these plants are best for your area.

Likewise it’s important to remember that most hummingbirds stick to a very limited climate zone of their own. The vast majority stay west of the Rockies or in a band from Texas to California.

East Coasters, on the other hand, will want plants that specifically attract the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the only hummer that regularly travels east of the Rockies:

  • Trumpet Creeper
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Honeysuckle
  • Jewelweed
  • Bee-balm
  • Red buckeye, and
  • Red Morning Glory

How To Attract Hummingbirds: 38 Simple Tips (2020 Guide!)

Many years ago, my dad and I visited someone’s house whose entire backyard was dedicated to attracting hummingbirds.

It was unbelievable! There were dozens of hummingbirds flying every direction visiting nectar feeders and beautiful flowers scattered across their yard.

Now that I have a house and yard of my own, I have spent the last few years trying to transform my backyard into a hummingbird garden and paradise.

Quick Links: 38 Tips For Attracting Hummingbirds

  • 20 Tips for Nectar Feeders

  • 10 Tips for Hummingbird Gardens, Flowers, & Plants

  • 8 Additional Tips for Buiding Your Hummingbird Garden

The biggest lesson that I have learned?

It’s that attracting hummingbirds is a bit more complicated than just hanging a nectar feeder and waiting for the birds.

The rest of this post is dedicated to thoroughly answering the question:

“How do you attract hummingbirds?”

In fact, I share 38 tips, tricks, and techniques that will make your backyard an attractive habitat for hummingbirds.

As you can probably guess, much of the advice centers around building your yard with the three core needs of hummingbirds:

Food, water, and shelter.

And as they say, “If you build it, they will come.”

20 Tips For Attracting Hummingbirds With Nectar Feeders

The quickest and most common way to get hummers to visit your backyard is to hang a quality nectar feeder.

This is because nectar is a primary food source for hummingbirds. To fuel their active lifestyle, hummingbirds need to feed on it almost continuously throughout the day.

Supplying a fresh and reliable nectar source will be sought after by hummingbirds.

Seriously, check out what Carole, a hummingbird enthusiast, has accomplished in her backyard. *The video below is a LIVE STREAM of her nectar feeders in her backyard.*

As long as it’s daylight, you are almost guaranteed to see hummingbirds drinking nectar from her feeders. (Learn more about this incredible feeding station HERE.)

But before you throw up your new hummingbird feeder, it’s important to understand the time commitment they demand, including how to properly make the nectar, how often to clean the feeders, etc.

Tip #1: Place your hummingbird feeders wisely.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look around your yard for the best places to hang your feeders:

  • Look for areas near flowers that hummingbirds are already visiting naturally.
  • Place close to shelter or perching areas, such as trees or shrubs. If possible, try not to put in the middle of your barren yard.
  • Keep the feeder out of the sun to slow the fermentation process, which will help the nectar last longer.
  • Think about yourself! Make sure you can see the feeders easily from inside your home.

Tip #2: Red is good!

Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to the color red, which is the reason why most nectar feeders you see have a red base or top.

Make sure that yours does too. At the very least, make sure it has a bright color like yellow.

Tip #3: Make your own nectar with this recipe.

Making a nectar solution that is easy and healthy for hummingbirds is easy!

  • 1 part refined table sugar, 4 parts warm water*
  • Mix
*Many people advise boiling the water before making nectar. They say that it gets rid of any bacteria that may be in the water. Probably good advice but I use warm water from my sink.*
  • RELATED: How To Make Hummingbird Nectar ( Includes 8 Frequently Asked Questions)

Seriously, it’s that easy. Regular table sugar is just sucrose, and when mixed with water, it closely resembles natural nectar sources that hummingbirds find in flowers.

I’d advise against buying pre-made nectar. I think it’s a needless expense since making sugar water with the recipe above is so easy. You also never know what other fillers or extra ingredients are added to the store-bought stuff!

Tip 4: Don’t use red dye in your nectar.

Even though hummingbirds are attracted to the color red (Tip #2), don’t put dye in their nectar.

This is because the effects of consuming red dye are unclear and studies have shown potential health consequences for hummers.

And putting red dye in nectar is unnecessary to attract hummingbirds Just make sure that the nectar feeder you purchase has a red top or base.

Tip #5: Don’t put honey or artificial sweeteners in your nectar.

It is not necessary and actually can be harmful to hummingbirds.

Tip #6: Replace the nectar BEFORE it spoils.

Do you like old, moldy, stale food?

Well, neither do hummingbirds. If you use nectar feeders to attract hummingbirds, then you must take the responsibility of replacing the sugar water before it goes bad.

The shelf life of your nectar is going to depend on different factors, most importantly the weather. You may need to change every few days when it’s extremely hot and humid. It may last up to a week or longer if it’s cooler and in the shade.

If you see your nectar is cloudy, it’s time to change it!

Tip #7: Don’t let your feeders run out of nectar!

Hummingbirds are creatures of habit. Once they find a reliable source of nectar, they will visit until it is exhausted.

This puts some pressure on us if we want to host hummingbirds. It’s important not to let our feeders run dry, or we may force the hummingbirds we worked so hard to attract move on and stop visiting.

Tip #8: Extend the life of your nectar by adding Nectar Defender.

Nectar Defender from Sapphires Labs is an all natural product that has been shown to prolong the freshness of homemade nectar. They claim that by adding it “Keeps nectar fresh for weeks instead of days.” View Price – Amazon

Tip #9: Make nectar easily in this bottle.

Making nectar at home isn’t hard, but it’s even easier with this bottle. The directions are printed directly on the side! All you need to do is fill with warm water (32 ounces) and add 1 cup of sugar. From there, shake vigorously and you are ready to go!

I bought mine at Wild Birds Unlimited. Unfortunately, I have not seen it sold elsewhere.

Tip #10: Extend the life of your nectar by putting it in the fridge.

Once I make 32 ounces of nectar with the bottle from tip #9 and fill my feeders, I usually have leftovers. By putting the extra sugar water in the fridge, it typically stays fresh for a few weeks.

Tip #11: Buy a feeder that is easy to clean.

If you want to minimize frustration, buying a nectar feeder that is easy to clean may be the most important tip on this list!

Remember how you need to change the sugar water quite often? When you do this, you also need to scrub and clean your feeders to wash away any mold or impurities.

Make sure your feeder is easy to take apart and does not have any hard to reach places. Any part that touches nectar needs to be cleaned thoroughly, or you risk bacteria and fungus growth.

Because they are much easier to clean, my recommendation is to purchase a dish style hummingbird feeder, as opposed to a bottle style feeder.

Bottle vs. dish nectar feeder? Learn more here.

Lastly, I use an Aspects Hummzinger 12 oz Hummingbird DISH Feeder in my backyard, and it works great! View Price – Amazon

Tip #12: Clean your feeder with vinegar (instead of bleach).

Every so often you should deep clean your hummingbird feeders with a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water. This helps to ensure you are killing all the bacteria and mold and other dirty things that have accumulated.

For all of your “normal” bird feeders, it’s customary to use a diluted bleach solution to ensure all the bacteria, fungus, and mold is killed. But using bleach is not appropriate for a nectar feeder because it’s hard to guarantee all the bleach residue was removed, which can then mix into the sugar water.

Tip #13: Buy a feeder that prevents bees.

Many feeders are designed to make sure bees can’t get to the nectar. Look for feeding ports that are small enough that only hummingbird beaks can fit through.

Second, most hummingbird feeders with a dish design work best to prevent bees. This is because the nectar sits below the port openings and is too far for bees to reach, but hummingbirds have no problem getting a drink.

Tip #14: Prevent ants with a moat.

Many nectar feeders have an ant moat to stop these insects from making a gross mess.

If not, you can purchase one that attaches above the feeder.

Tip #15: Buy a durable feeder.

Don’t just buy the least expensive hummingbird feeder you come across!

You want to make sure that your nectar feeder is constructed of glass or sturdy plastic, so it doesn’t break the first time it falls. It’s very annoying to own a feeder that has small plastic parts that break easily.

An excellent way to determine the life of a feeder is to check out the reviews from other customers.

Tip #16: Hang multiple nectar feeders around your yard.

Not only will you have a better chance at attracting more hummingbirds, but this also prevents a bully hummer from scaring away other birds.

Yes, you heard correctly. Hummingbirds can be very aggressive and territorial. It’s not uncommon for one to perch next to a feeder and not let anyone else eat!

  • Related: The 8 Best Hummingbird Feeders (That Actually Work)

Here is a LIVE look at many of my feeders. Sometimes I put a hummingbird feeder here, but typically I scatter them around my yard in different locations.

Tip #17: Bigger is not always better.

Consider the amount of nectar that your feeder holds in its reservoir. If you buy a one that is too large, then you are going to be wasting lots of nectar as it spoils before its eaten, in addition to having more surface area to clean!

My advice is to start small. If you attract so many hummingbirds that the feeder empties too quickly, (An excellent problem to have!), then you can always buy a bigger one.

My personal preference is a feeder that holds around 8 – 12 ounces. If you are looking for recommendations, check out the Aspects Hummzinger (12 oz)!

Tip #18: Hang ’em early, keep ’em out late.

Most hummingbird species travel thousands of miles each year during Spring and Fall migration. For such a tiny bird, this is an enormous energy expense.

To help, get your nectar feeders out before the first Spring migrants arrive. If they could express their emotions, I’m sure hummingbirds would sincerely appreciate the fresh sugar water you provide.

The same principle applies in the fall. Many enthusiasts take their feeders down too early, just when hummingbirds are making their way back down south.

To find out when hummers are going to return each year, check out the website Hummingbirds at Home, which provides maps showing where they are being observed.

Tip #19: Try feeding a hummingbird from your hand.

Handheld nectar feeders are pretty cool, and hummingbirds are braver than you probably think. A little patience and perseverance can pay off big time! View Price / Buy Here

Tip #20: Try a window hummingbird feeder.

It’s incredibly exciting to watch hummingbirds feeding right outside your window.

Aspects Jewel Box Window Nectar Feeder View Cost – Amazon

Window feeders are also great ways to introduce non-birders and kids to how awesome birds can be!

Related: The 4 Best Window Bird Feeders (That Are Proven To Work!)

10 Tips For Creating a Hummingbird Garden

I think the best way to continuously attract hummingbirds is to plant their favorite shrubs, trees, and flowers.

  • Related: 28 Common Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds (Native & Easy To Grow)

This is because the average hummingbird visits up to 2,000 flowers each day looking for nectar! Establishing a hummingbird garden takes advantage of this fact.

In my opinion, nectar feeders are a lot of work between changing sugar water and cleaning every few days.

You never have to worry if your nectar has spoiled if you establish a hummingbird garden that produces nectar-filled flowers all summer long. Nature takes care of everything and is the gift that keeps on giving!

  • Related: 101 Gardening Tips That Actually Work! (Fantastic article to read if you’re not an expert gardener!)

Tip #21: Native plants work best.

There are many reasons that you should be using native plants instead of exotic species from Asia.

Here’s just one: Hummingbirds eat more than only nectar. Arthropods and insects provide a considerable portion of their diet and having native plants will attract significantly more bugs than hummingbirds like to eat than exotic plants!

  • RELATED: What do hummingbirds eat? (It’s not just nectar!)

Tip #22: Pay attention to bloom times

This tip is my favorite when it comes to creating a garden that attracts hummingbirds all summer long.

Select various species of plants that bloom at different times during Spring and Summer. This way hummingbirds have places to eat throughout the season, not just when your rhododendron flowers in Spring or your red cardinal flower blooms in August.

Having flowers blooming all season long in your garden is also a great way to attract butterflies!

  • RELATED: How to Attract Butterflies: 17 Tips (Updated Guide)

Tip #23: Select different colored flowers.

Even though red is the best to attract hummingbirds, they will visit all the colors. So don’t be afraid to have your hummingbird garden mimic a rainbow!

Tip #24: Select plants with different heights and shapes.

To add visual interest to your hummingbird garden, select plants that have different mature sizes. Think flowers that stay close to the ground, shrubs and bushes that get bigger and wider, vines that climb, flowers with long spikes, etc.

Tip #25: Annual or perennial?

When you are designing your hummingbird garden, make sure to check if the plant is going to die at the end of the season (annual) or return next year (perennial). They both work great, and a combination of the two is probably best.

Tip #26: Check how big each plant is going to grow.

Design with the end in mind by paying attention to the mature size of each plant.

For example, the trumpet vine is a hummingbird favorite. It’s bought small, but eventually becomes an enormous vine that grows up to 40 feet tall!

Tip #27: Look for long, tubular flowers.

The best flowers for attracting hummingbirds tend to be long and look like a tube. Typically, these types of flowers have the most nectar. Also, because of their shape, most insects can’t reach the good stuff, which means that hummingbirds have the flowers all to themselves thanks to their long, specialized bills!

Tip #28: Encourage your neighbors to attract hummingbirds!

To attract even more hummingbirds, you want the habitat surrounding your backyard also to be desirable. Your yard can only support so many hummers, so you don’t want to be an oasis in a sea of crap.

Try to get your neighbors involved by recommending some flowers and plants to get them started. Almost everyone (non-birders included!) loves attracting hummingbirds to their backyard. You could even show them this post:

  • 28 Common Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds (Native & Easy To Grow)

Tip #29: Deadhead the dead!

What is the purpose of a flower?

It’s not to look pretty. It’s to get pollinated and produce seeds. Once a plant has produced enough flowers that turn into seed, it will stop making new buds. From the plants perspective, it thinks it has done its job.

But from a hummingbirds perspective, a plant that quits producing flowers is useless! They want fresh flowers full of nectar. A hummer could care less if a plant produces seed for next year.

Luckily, we can encourage plants to keep producing more flowers by deadheading the dying or fading ones. Since we are removing the potential seeds, the plant will continue growing new flowers, which is excellent for hummingbirds! The below video gives a demonstration:

Tip #30: Place your hummingbird garden wisely.

Just remember that many flowers that attract hummingbirds also draw in bees and other pollinators. You may not want all these other insects right outside your back door.

If you want to minimize the insects flying around your hummingbird garden, then try to find scentless flowers. This is because insects find their nectar sources by smell, where hummingbirds find flowers by sight, which is why the color red is so popular among hummingbird enthusiasts.

8 Additional Tips For a Successful Hummingbird Habitat

Tip #31: Be patient.

If you want to attract hummingbirds, the first step is creating a backyard habitat they want to visit.

The second step is waiting.

As you are getting started, please tame your expectations. It’s unlikely that you are going to hang a feeder or plant a few flowers and suddenly dozens of hummingbirds appear.

It can take days, weeks, or months before hummingbirds find your yard and start visiting regularly. They need to know that the food sources you provide can be relied upon and are consistent.

Don’t get discouraged!

But once they trust you, watch out! They will start visiting all the time. Hummingbirds will even remember from year to year where your feeders and flowers are located.

Tip #32: Don’t use pesticides in your yard.

Nectar is only a part of a hummingbirds diet. They also eat lots of small insects and spiders. So by using pesticides, you are killing and eliminating a significant source of potential food.

Interestingly, hummingbirds use spider webs to help construct their nest and hold it together. You may hate spiders, but they are beneficial when it comes to attracting hummers.

On a side note, if you want hummingbirds in your yard, it may be time to get over your fear of spiders!

Tip #33: Put out those old bananas!

Fruit flies are an excellent source of food and protein for hummingbirds. As your fruit is going bad, find a (hidden?) place in your garden set it out. As you probably have experienced, the rotting fruit will bring plenty of flies, which should help attract hummingbirds.

Tip #34: Provide potential nesting locations.

Hummingbirds prefer small deciduous trees and dense shrubs to build nests and raise their family.

  • RELATED: 13 Free Birdhouse and Nest Box Plans! (PDF/Video Included)

Tip #35: Supply moving water.

Installing a drip fountain or small misting device attracts hummingbirds the best.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t see any hummers visiting your traditional bird bath.

Tip #36: Provide perching and resting areas.

If you don’t have any natural resting places in your backyard, my recommendation is to plant some trees or bushes, so hummingbirds have a place to perch, hide, and take shelter.

Even though hummingbirds need to eat at least every 15 minutes while awake, they spend a lot of time resting and will appreciate different places to perch.

Tip #37: You are never done learning.

Adopt the mindset that you will never know everything about hummingbirds.

As soon as you think you have it figured out, suddenly you won’t see a hummingbird for two weeks, or your once reliable feeder suddenly falls out of favor.

Never stop learning and experimenting in your backyard. Plant new flowers each year. Try different locations for your feeders. Become a place where hummingbirds want to nest.

Pretty soon your yard may look like this!

Tip #38: Join the community and contribute to this post!

I want to keep making this article better and better and would appreciate hearing about your favorite ways to attract hummingbirds.

I certainly did not think of every one of the above tips myself. It was learned from years of experience and from reading many books and magazines.

Before you go, I’d love to get your thoughts?

What is your best advice for attracting hummingbirds?

Thanks for reading and happy birding!

Scott

While it’s true that hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers, most feeders are red in color or have little fake flowers that do the trick. These splendid little iridescent aviators are easy to attract with the right formula of sugar water and a properly designed feeder, even without the red dye. All you need to do is mix up the formula and keep the feeders cleaned and filled. Once the tiny birds make themselves at home, they’ll visit year after year.

Habits and Habitats

Even though you plan on putting out feeders, consider planting flowers that hummingbirds like to get nectar from. Of course, red flowers. But, they are attracted to orange and pink as well. Mainly, they like an open tubular shape that suits their long beak. They also need branches for perching and nesting. And, don’t forget to provide fresh water in a birdbath, fountain, or sprinkler if you can.

They move fast, flapping their wings about 50 times per second, and make a whooshing sound as they zoom past your head. They chase each other away from the feeders, which is why it’s good to provide multiple options with a bit of space between.

In times of food scarcity or when their temperature drops, hummingbirds go into a state of torpor, similar to hibernation, but short term. Their vital functions slow and they go into a deep sleep, even appearing dead. Do not disturb a bird you might find in this condition.

The Perfect Formula

Their high metabolism requires them to feed almost constantly, so your help providing food will be much appreciated. The basic formula is easy: 1/4 cup white sugar to one cup water, stirred to dissolve. Do not use honey or turbinado sugar. Hummingbirds don’t have iron in their system, so white sugar is the right kind to use. Don’t add food coloring; there is no need if the feeder looks like a red flower.

Some people cook the potion a little, which extends the “shelf life.” But, if you make smaller batches and clean the feeders more frequently, you won’t have to worry about it fermenting. It is a good idea to use filtered water, though. Some wells have iron or calcium and city water has chlorine and fluoride. If you end up with leftover sugar water, just refrigerate it until needed.

The Right Kind of Feeder

Since it is true that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, a feeder with a bright red base will do the trick. You don’t need to buy the red food coloring in order for them to find you. But, there are a few things that will make your feeder-tending a lot less work and much more fun.

The most important feature to look for is ease of cleaning. Forget ones that have a bottle neck. You want to be able to get inside with a bottle brush or toothbrush. And, don’t get ones that are too big. Since hummingbirds are territorial, more feeders are a better option than bigger ones.

I have two styles that I love the most and have used for many years without fail. One is a red disc shape with multiple holes for feeding and a clear chamber that screws onto the base. The disc comes apart for cleaning, and the nectar chamber has a wide, screw-on opening. The other style came as a two pack and is designed to hang on a provided wire hook stuck in a hanging basket. They are small, clear tube-shaped chambers with a little red base designed for a single bird to feed at any given time. Though the base has a plastic flower that surrounds the feeding hole, it can be pulled off for cleaning. Between the two little ones and the disc feeder, one cup of food is perfect. The food should be consumed within a few days to avoid mold, or discarded for a fresh fill.

You can soak the feeders in some vinegar or water with a little bleach for a simple cleaning. Avoid perfume laden dish soaps and always rinse thoroughly before refilling.

For a few minutes of effort, you will reap hours of joyful pleasure and help a winged friend be well fed.

Carol Mosley is a social ecologist, freelance writer, human rights activist, mini-farmer, and educator.

Whether you’ve spent months perfecting flowerbeds, trimming the hedges and clipping the grass for a magazine-perfect backyard, or are just getting started on your outdoor oasis, the sight of tiny hummingbirds flitting through the air is like icing on the cake to any outdoor area.

To attract hummingbirds to your garden or patio, you can strategically plant specific flowers, shrubs and trees to create a hummingbird habitat, or simply make nectar in your kitchen to supply a hummingbird feeder. By catering to their preferences, you will likely see these tiny beautiful visitors in your garden come springtime.

Turning your garden into a hummingbird’s dream home

The ideal habitat for a hummingbird consists of trees, shrubbery, and flowers that provide shelter and produce nectar. Adding a water-misting feature will make your garden an especially attractive home to hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds seek the nectar that is the sweet liquid found inside certain flowers. There are several types of flowering plants that attract hummingbirds due to their natural production of nectar; in fact, you may already have a few in your yard. Tulip poplars and sourwood are both common plants that hummingbirds enjoy. When selecting plants to attract hummingbirds, you don’t need to opt for red, tubular flowers because hummingbirds have the keen ability to seek out nectar from various types and colors of flowers.

Which plants and flowers attract hummingbirds?

There are many shrubs, vines, and flowers from which to choose. The following is a list of the top 10 native plants that attract hummingbirds in order of preference, compiled by Ruby-Throated Hummingbird researcher Bill Hilton Jr. (1)

Top 10 Flowers & Plants That Attract Hummingbirds

  1. Trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans
  2. Beebalm or Oswego tea, Monarda didyma
  3. Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis
  4. Spotted jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
  5. Indian pink, Spigelia marilandica
  6. Red columbine, Aquilegia canadense
  7. Canada lily, Lilium canadense
  8. Trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens
  9. Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia
  10. Mountain rosebay or Catawba rhododendron, Rhododendron catawbiense

Other flowers, trees, and vines that hummingbirds love:

Perennials

  • Canna
  • Coral Bells, Heuchera
  • Four O’Clocks, Mirabilis jalapa
  • Foxglove, Digitalis
  • Hosta
  • Hummingbird Mint, Agastache
  • Little Cigar
  • Lupin
  • Penstemon
  • Yucca

Annuals

  • Beard Tongue (and other penstemons)
  • Firespike, Odontonema strictum
  • Fuchsia
  • Impatiens
  • Jacobiana, Justicia carnea
  • Petunia
  • Various Salvia species

Trees and shrubs

  • Azalea
  • Butterfly Bush, Buddleia
  • Cape Honeysuckle, Tecoma capensis
  • Cigar plant, Cuphea ignea
  • Flame Acanthus
  • Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles
  • Giant Blue Sage, Salvia guaranitica
  • Hibiscus syriacus
  • Shrub verbena, Lantana
  • Manzanita
  • Mimosa
  • Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans
  • Tree Tobacco, Nicotiana glauca
  • Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus
  • Weigela

Vines

  • Cypress Vine, Ipomoea quamoclit
  • Morning Glory
  • Scarlet Runner Bean, Phaseolus coccineus

Tips for growing plants for hummingbirds:

  • Plants require plenty of energy from the sun to produce nectar so be sure to cultivate your garden for optimal sunlight.
  • We recommend using local flowering plants because non-native species (especially Japanese Honeysuckle) can become invasive.
  • Choose plants that bloom at different times of the year so that there is a source of nectar throughout the season.
  • Skip the pesticides because the chemicals could be toxic to hummingbirds. Plus, hummingbirds are carnivores and would prefer you left their prey, such as aphids, mosquitoes, and gnats, alive.

Hummingbird feeders

After you’ve made sure your garden is flourishing with hummingbird favorites, you may also decide to include hummingbird feeders to increase the odds that hummingbirds will choose your garden over your neighbor’s. Hummingbird feeders can be found in most home improvement stores, just be sure to select a feeder that is red or has red on it. To add an extra touch of red, you can tie a red ribbon to the feeder before hanging it. Because hummingbirds are territorial over their food sources, it may be preferential to purchase multiple feeders to hang on different sides of your house in order to attract more birds.

(photo by AnnCam)

Use this homemade nectar recipe in your hummingbird feeder

Creating nectar in your kitchen is quick and easy, and it is just as tasty to hummingbirds as store-bought bottles of hummingbird liquid. You only need two ingredients: water and sugar.

Simply stir together four parts water with one part sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep the liquid boiling for 1-2 minutes and then allow it to cool completely before pouring into your feeder. Store excess nectar in the refrigerator.

Tips for Hummingbird Feeders:

  • Do not use red food coloring because it could be harmful to the birds. Plus it is unnecessary to color the nectar since your hummingbird feeder is already red.
  • Empty and clean your hummingbird feeder twice per week in the summer and once per week during spring and fall. Simply rinsing with boiling water will suffice.
  • Fill your feeder only about half-full because the hummingbirds will likely not be able to drink all of the nectar before it needs to be replaced.
  • Worried about pests? Many hummingbird feeders are designed to prevent access for ants and bees. However, hummingbirds may splash droplets of nectar when they drink. If you notice bees, simply wipe the outside of your feeder with a wet cloth.
  • You can leave your feeder up throughout the winter, but be sure to clean it once per week.

My garden is ready, when will the hummingbirds arrive?

Hummingbirds* migrate south in the winter to follow their food supply of bugs and insects, and to stay warm. They begin traveling north as early as January where they can be seen in southern United States. More of the country will see hummingbirds around March or later, and southern Canada should spot hummingbirds by late May. Their return south begins around late August or early September.

Now that you are equipped with the essentials on how to attract hummingbirds, you may choose to start small with a hummingbird feeder or two, or go all out by optimizing your entire garden. Like any wild species, hummingbirds have basic needs of food and shelter, and by providing a safe habitat complete with trees, shrubs, and flowers that produce nectar, hummingbirds are likely to be drawn to your garden next spring.

Do you have a garden fit for hummingbirds? Tell us about it in the comments below!

*This information based on Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. Sources:

  1. Trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans
  2. Beebalm or Oswego tea, Monarda didyma
  3. Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis
  4. Spotted jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
  5. Indian pink, Spigelia marilandica
  6. Red columbine, Aquilegia canadense
  7. Canada lily, Lilium canadense
  8. Trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens
  9. Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia
  10. Mountain rosebay or Catawba rhododendron, Rhododendron catawbiense

Other flowers, trees, and vines from which to choose include:

Perennials

  • Canna
  • Coral Bells, Heuchera
  • Four O’Clocks, Mirabilis jalapa
  • Foxglove, Digitalis
  • Hosta
  • Hummingbird Mint, Agastache
  • Little Cigar
  • Lupin
  • Penstemon
  • Yucca

Annuals

  • Beard Tongue (and other penstemons)
  • Firespike, Odontonema strictum
  • Fuchsia
  • Impatiens
  • Jacobiana, Justicia carnea
  • Petunia
  • Various Salvia species

Trees and shrubs

  • Azalea
  • Butterfly Bush, Buddleia
  • Cape Honeysuckle, Tecoma capensis
  • Cigar plant, Cuphea ignea
  • Flame Acanthus
  • Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles
  • Giant Blue Sage, Salvia guaranitica
  • Hibiscus syriacus
  • Shrub verbena, Lantana
  • Manzanita
  • Mimosa
  • Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans
  • Tree Tobacco, Nicotiana glauca
  • Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus
  • Weigela

Vines

  • Cypress Vine, Ipomoea quamoclit
  • Morning Glory
  • Scarlet Runner Bean, Phaseolus coccineus

By Jeff Nowak

Nancy Rynes

Build a nectar-rich garden in your backyard to attract hummingbirds.

I’ll never forget the look of amazement on my friends’ faces when a hummingbird buzzed over the patio, past our picnic table right to the bright-red bee balm just a few feet away. Their jaws dropped in amazement. They had never seen a hummingbird that close before. In fact, they’d never even seen a hummingbird!

That’s when my chest swelled. “Oh yeah,” I said. “They come every day at this time.”

“The hummingbirds zip from flower to flower,” I boasted. “It’s part of our dinner routine—to see who spots one from the kitchen window first.”

Judging by the roll of my wife’s eyes, I knew what she was thinking…if they only knew my “lazy-man’s approach” to attracting these iridescent wonders. My secret is simple—plant nectar-filled flowers hummingbirds can’t resist, and kick back and enjoy the show.

Hummingbird Buffet

Hummingbird gardening is something anyone can try in most parts of the country and, yes, expect success.

You don’t need a huge manicured garden to get started. A simple hanging basket, container or window box packed with mostly red nectar-producing flowers does the trick. And once you see an iridescent hummingbird flitting from flower to flower, I guarantee you’ll want to expand your planting next year to bring in more of these unbelievable birds.

What Is Nectar?

Nectar is nothing more than sugar water produced naturally by all kinds of flowers. Some, like Queen Anne’s lace and zinnias, produce nectar on their shallow clusters of flowers. These attract bees, butterflies and other insects, along with hummingbirds.

The real surefire plants designed to appeal to hummingbirds are deep tube-shaped flowers. Hummingbirds probe these blooms with their long bills and tongues to lap up the energy drink that keeps their high-revving motors humming.

What do the flowers get in return?

“Hummingbirds play a large role in pollination,” explains backyard bird expert George Harrison of Hubertus, Wisconsin. “As hummingbirds dip their bills down into each flower, pollen clings to their bills and feathers so they transfer it from plant to plant.”

The pollen fertilizes the flowers, which produce seeds that ensure their survival.

Hummingbird Gardens

Reader Marie Harrison of Valparaiso, Florida started her hummingbird garden, admittedly, by accident.

“It was a little bit of luck,” she says. “The first flowers that attracted hummers to my garden were planted simply because I love flowers. When I started noticing the hummingbirds coming to certain flowers, I wanted to attract more of them. So, I started planting the flowers they liked best.”

Among her favorites are red pentas, Turk’s cap lilies, butterfly weed and honeysuckle. Over the years, Marie has learned what many hummingbirds lovers have discovered—if you know exactly what flowers hummingbirds are looking for, you’re almost guaranteed regular visits.

Ready to set out the welcome mat for hummingbirds in your backyard? Here are some tips to get started:

Seeing Red. A patch of red flowers to hummingbirds is like a neon “EAT” sign along a lonely highway. These birds search out nectar from many different colored flowers, but it’s the red ones that really have magnetic drawing power.

Scientists believe hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers because they’ve learned through experience that red tubular flowers contain the most nectar. So anything red—be it a flower, baseball hat or tricycle—triggers their instincts to investigate. That’s why hummingbird feeders usually have red feeding ports.

Tube-shaped Blooms. Many plants on hummingbirds’ hit list are tube-shaped flowers that provide large amounts of nectar deep at the base of their blooms. Hummingbirds can easily reach this sugar water, while bees and most other nectar-loving insects are left out.

Trumpet vine is an excellent example of tube-shaped nectar producers. It offers hummingbirds 10 times more sugar water than other plants!

Less fragrant, more filling. Many flowers hummingbirds flock to surprisingly have little to no scent. And, as nature would have it, there’s a good reason.

Sweet-smelling flowers attract bees and other insects. Hummingbirds, like most birds, have a poor sense of smell. They rely on sight to find food. So, by remaining odor-free, these flowers cater largely to hummingbirds.

Cascading Blooms. Hummingbirds are in a flying class of their own, with th eability to fly forward, backward, hover and even upside down!

Some nectar flowers, like fuchsia, have adapted specifically to accommodate hummingbirds. Their blooms hang downward, so only agile hummingbirds can reach their sweet treat.

Submitted by B&B user: James (Bradypics) Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Planting Your Hummer Garden

Planting a hummingbird garden is no different than creating a perennial border, mixed container or any other garden. The basics are the same—soil rich in organic matter that drains well will keep the flowers healthy. And healthy nectar plants produce loads of the sweet stuff.

There are hundreds of blooming plants—annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs—that hummingbirds feed from. Which ones should you choose? How should you plant them? It’s easier than you think:

Mix plenty of annuals. Annuals ensure long-blooming flowers that immediately produce nectar, from the time the migratory hummingbirds return north from their tropical winter grounds, until they leave in fall.

Aim for continuous blossoms. Perennials, flowering trees and shrubs are excellent additions to a hummingbird garden, but plan carefully before you plant. Seek a mix of nectar producers that bloom in succession, from early spring to fall.

Plant in clusters. Again, red is a sure bet for attracting hummingbirds. To get their attention, cluster red blooms together so they shout out, “Dinnertime!”

But that doesn’t mean your garden has to be monochromatic. These sweet-toothed birds will gladly feed from any color nectar flower, but use red to draw them in.

Plant low to high. Consider your hummingbird garden as a stadium, placing shorter plants in front of taller ones. This gives the birds a chance to easily get to all the blooms, without plant stems and leaves interfering with their whirring wings. As a bonus, you get to see them better from your patio or window.

Add to existing gardens. You don’t have to start from scratch. Many hummingbird plants blend in beautifully with existing flower gardens.

Deadhead for more blooms. The longer your nectar-producing plants produce flowers, the more hummingbirds you’ll attract.

Even though many of the flowers to attract hummingbirds are low-maintenance annuals and perennials, take time to deadhead blooms before they go to seed.

This keeps the plants pouring energy into flower production…a sure way to convince hummingbirds to stay near your backyard, and come back year after year.

If you are looking to attract hummingbirds to your landscape, then it’s time to plant a few of the plants they love the most!

There is simply something so incredible about witnessing the hummingbird fly about and feed.

The speed of their wings, along with their tiny size make for some of the best bird watching around.

And although bright, nectar-filled feeders are a great way to bring these beautiful miniature flyers into your yard, nothing will attract hummingbirds more than planting the blooming perennials and annuals they love most.

And those plants and blooms will keep them coming back too!

There is nothing more graceful than watching a hummingbird stop to feed.

Although hummingbirds do not have an overly active sense of smell, they are attracted to bright colors.

And in addition to bright colors, hummingbirds look to find safety and security as they feed.

Nothing provides that more than a canopy of foliage filled with the blooms and nectar they love most.,

Here is a look at 5 great plants to grow that will have those hummingbirds coming back again and again.

How To Attract Hummingbirds With Plants

Bee Balm

This hardy perennial is one of the hummingbird’s favorites. And it looks fantastic in the landscape as well!

Bee balms long, spiky, nectar filled blooms are perfect for the hummingbird’s long snout.

Although named after the honey bee, hummingbirds love bee balm too!

Bee balm thrives best in full sun, and should be planted in an area that drains well.

And to keep plants blooming longer, remove spent blooms as they die off.

Although bee balm can be found in white, pink and purple, varieties in red will work best to attract hummingbirds. See : Cambridge Scarlet Bee Balm Plant

Coral Bells

The coral bell plant is another perennial that should be at the top of your to attract hummingbirds to your landscape.

Coral bells attract hummingbirds with their long, wispy blooms

Not only do hummingbirds love this wispy-blooming perennial, it is one of easiest, low-care plants around.

Although they can take some sun, coral bells perform best in areas that receive a fair amount of shade.

Much like bee balm, remove spent blooms to encourage new spikes to grow.

Daylilies – A Hardy Choice To Attract Hummingbirds

When it comes to low-maintenance perennials, it is hard to beat the daylily.

This tough as nails, hardy perennial also happens to be a favorite for hummingbirds too.

Daylilies, like this Stella De Oro variety, bloom for much of the summer season to keep hummingbirds coming back.

Daylilies come in a near endless array of varieties, but to attract hummingbirds, select varieties such as Stella De Oro that continue to bloom all season long.

Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia)

Originating from South Africa, the Red Hot Poker, or Torch Lily as it is sometimes called, is a beautiful addition to any landscape.

And, not only will it attract hummingbirds, but bring in bees, butterflies and birds as well.

Although officially known as Kniphofia, this low growing evergreen-style perennial shoots up tall spiky blooms.

The tall, spiked blooms of the Kniphofia plant.

Available in varieties with red, yellow, orange or combinations of all three, the brightly colored blooms are an alluring attraction to hummingbirds.

Red hot pokers thrive in full sun, and are fairly drought tolerant as well.

Hardy in zones 5 through 9, they are the perfect choice to plant in open beds, rock gardens, or sunny areas right near outdoor patios.

Petunias – The Perfect Annual To Attract Hummingbirds

When it comes to annuals that can attract hummingbirds, it’s hard to beat Petunias! (see : How To Keep Petunias Blooming All Summer Long)

Their abundant, trumpet shaped blooms serve as a virtual buffet for hummingbirds. Especially when planted in their favorite color of red!

The bright, trumpet=shaped blooms of petunias attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Hanging baskets and potted plants filled with petunias can bring hummingbirds up close to outdoor living spaces.

Here is to filling your landscape with the beauty and elegance of the hummingbird!

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View full sizeSteve Berardi/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONSA young female black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) drinks nectar from scarlet bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius).

If you love watching hummingbirds flit, hover and zoom, then you’ll really enjoy the show when they swoop in for the nectar on colorful flowers. Hanging baskets suspended at varying heights are a simple and space-saving way to provide an instant explosion of nectar-rich blooms. Imagine these iridescent beauties hovering around your hanging baskets, each vying for a dining spot. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to make that dream a reality.

BASKET BASICS

Hanging baskets are available in a wide variety of materials, including plastic, wood, metal, pottery and metal or wire baskets fitted with flexible liners, coco-fiber mats or sphagnum moss. For that matter, even an old kettle-style barbecue or a retired bird cage can be transformed into a novelty hanging planter.

Lightweight pots or smaller containers are easier to handle, but larger containers hold more plants, make for a more eye-catching display and offer the advantage of keeping roots moist for longer periods. Just keep in mind that a heavy pot or large container can easily weigh 50 pounds or more when filled with damp soil and plants. Such pots need larger hooks and require stronger supports to carry their weight.

SELECTING PLANTS

Hummingbirds seek out nectar from tubular flowers, such as fuchsias, salvias and petunias. The number of blooms a plant produces also plays a big role in attracting these tiny birds. Plants with multiple flowers in open clusters are more appealing than plants like hibiscus that feature a small selection of big blooms.

Nectar flowers in shades of red always get their attention. However, hummingbirds will also take nectar from flowers in almost any hue, including orange, pink, purple, blue, white and even yellow. And since hummers feed while hovering, flowers that protrude, dangle from a plant or rise above the leaves provide ample airspace so their beating wings easily clear any foliage.

You can always count on traditional hummingbird favorites — pelargoniums, fuchsias, nasturtiums, petunias, lantana and impatiens, for instance — for creating a spectacular hanging display. But even vines and upright or spiky perennials such as summer phlox, veronica or penstemon can be just as appealing to the human eye as to a hummingbird’s appetite.

Plants with a long flowering season will provide nectar for an extended period of time. Another way to achieve this is to choose flowers with staggered bloom times — whether in one basket or by offering several hanging baskets.

View full sizePhoto by Wikimedia CommonsVines for attracting hummingbirds. Ths is This is Lonicera x brownii ‘Fuchsioides’. Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle.

COMPOSING YOUR DISPLAY

There are several techniques you can use to create a stunning composition that draws hummers in. A combination of both foliage and flowers creates the most alluring effect. For example, coral bells add drama with a vast selection of colorful foliage, while the nectar-rich blooms provide hummingbirds with the food they seek. Combining different leaf shapes or forms also adds eye appeal, and using plants with different textures — soft and fuzzy, lacy, coarse or crinkly — creates a unique tactile interest for all.

Another way to bring depth and visual interest to your hanging garden is by combining plants with staggered heights and habits for a burst of bloom. For example, place mounding or upright plants, such as salvia, penstemon or zinnias, toward the center of the pot. Then accent with trailing plants — verbena, parrot’s beak or trailing petunias, for instance — positioned along the outer edges to spill over the sides. Just be sure that plants destined to share a basket also share similar needs for water and light.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

A good lightweight potting mix is a must — preferably one that includes peat moss, forest products and perlite or vermiculite to provide aeration and drainage. Spacing depends on the plants and the container you select, whether the plants are annuals or perennials, and the nature of their growth habits and characteristics. Smaller plants can be spaced closer together than larger plants, so the total number will vary. But as a general rule, a 12-inch container will house about five to seven plants. Wire baskets in which you also plant down the sides will require more plants to provide complete coverage.

Once you’ve determined your plant arrangement, fill the pot two-thirds full with moistened potting mix. Plant the largest plants and those in the center first, followed by the smaller plants and those around the outer edges of your container. Be sure to place the plants at the same depth as they were in their original containers, then firm plants in with additional potting mix and water well.

HANG IT UP

When hanging your basket, choose a sunny, sheltered location within easy viewing so you can watch these happy hummers at close range.

Hanging baskets near a window allows you to enjoy the sights both inside and out. But think beyond windows to other places you frequent: Add pizazz to boring entrance areas by hanging several baskets near the front door, bring new dimension to walls and doorways, or add colorful charm to a courtyard. You can even expand your hanging garden to a balcony, an arbor or a gazebo. Just be sure to include cozy seating nearby so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Garden writer Kris Wetherbee is the author of “Attracting Birds, Butterflies & Other Winged Wonders to Your Backyard”

SIDEBARS

HUMMINGBIRD PLANTS FOR HANGING BASKETS

While the following list of hummingbird plants for hanging baskets is by no means inclusive, it offers a lot of colorful choices for putting together a winning display.

CARE AND WATERING TIPS

Nothing kills plants in a hanging basket faster than insufficient water. Keep the soil slightly moist, like a damp sponge. When you do water, be sure to thoroughly soak the soil until water drains out the drainage holes.

Hanging baskets that have dried out need special watering to rehydrate the soil. Dunk the entire basket in a large saucer or tub of water until the soil is saturated (this may take from 10 minutes to an hour or more), then lift the basket out and allow the water to drain before rehanging.

Fertilize hanging baskets during the growing season (about every three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer), or several times a year with a time-release fertilizer.

As the season progresses, pinch back leggy stems and faded flowers to encourage more blooms and to extend the flowering period.

How to attract hummingbirds to your garden

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The other day, I realized that our native Cherokee (or Coral) Bean, Erythrina herbacea, has received numerous visits from a neighborhood hummingbird. The number of seed pods that are forming now are proof that the flowers have been pollinated by a hummingbird or two.

My neighbor had a large row of Clerodendrum speciosissimum (pagoda flower), which provided food for the hummingbirds, but they were all cleared out months ago, leaving our small tree as the only food source around.

I am often asked if we really have hummingbirds here in Brevard County and my answer is always yes, we do. Just because you haven’t had the joy of watching them in your yard doesn’t mean that they aren’t around.

The main way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to plant a lot of red-colored, nectar-rich flowering plants. Now, to be able to sit back and watch them, you will want to plant these near your house or around your outdoor sitting areas.

Hummingbird-approved trees include Red bottle-brush (Callistemon citrinus, C. viminalis) and Geiger-tree (Cordia sebestena).

Hummingbird-approved vines include Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Cross vine (Bignonia capreolata) and Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans).

But wait, you can also plant some perennials such as Aloe (Aloe spp.), Baby sun rose (Aptenia cordifolia), Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis), Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), native Milkweed (Asclepias perennis) and Swamp milkweed (Asclepiasincarnata).

Last but not least, some wildflowers that have nectar for hummingbirds Beardtongue (Penstemon multiflorus), Blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum), Blue sage (Salvia azurea), Four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa), Lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata), Pink beard tongue (Penstemon australis), Prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa) and Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea).

Many people hang hummingbird feeders but they should only be a supplemental food source and must be kept clean. If you would like to skip the feeder, then you could just plant a Baby sun rose, Aptenia cordifolia, in a hanging basket. Be sure to hang it near a window so you can watch the hummingbirds up close. And if you really want to ensure the hummingbirds come running, err flying, try setting out some overripe fruit, like banana peels, to attract flies for the hummers to munch on.

Trust me — plant and they will come!

P.S.We’ve included the scientific names of each plant in italics within parenthesis for easy Googling!

Hummingbird fast facts (appropriate, no?)

•They only live in the Americas.

•338 species are known, 16 are found in the U.S. and three occur in Florida.

•Black-chinned and rufous are winter visitors, and the ruby-throated is our only nesting hummer in Florida.

•The nest is walnut-size and adorned with lichens and moss, and are bound by spider webs or whafine plant fibers.

•Nesting begins in April.

•Hummers have among the largest appetites in the bird world. They feed every 10 to 15 minutes from dawn to dusk.

•The ideal flower colors are red, orange or pink.

•Hummers start eating as early as 45 minutes before sunrise and they really need energy after a cold night.

•Hummers also need protein and other nutrients so they also eat soft-bodied insects and spiders.

Sally Scalera is an urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences.

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