Petunias are one of the most popular annual flowering plants for good reason. These bright, fragrant, easy-to-grow beauties bloom right through the spring and summer, and there are hundreds of types of petunias to choose from.
But if you like picking plants that attract beneficial pollinators to your yard, you might be wondering if hummingbirds like petunias. Read on to discover if these plants are worth introducing to your pollinator garden.
Do Hummingbirds Like Petunias?
The short answer is, yes, hummingbirds do like petunias. These birds like brightly colored, tubular-shaped, nectar-filled flowers, and petunias are just that. However, cultivated petunias aren't as nectar-rich as some native plants, so if you only fill your garden with petunias, then the hummingbirds might select gardens nearby offering a wider range of blooms. Plus, choosing petunias that have qualities most likely to attract hummingbirds is important.
These busy birds are most attracted to red, pink, and orange blooms. Some petunias have more impressive trumpet-shaped flowers than others, and the more elongated, the better for the hummingbird's long, thin bill and tongue. Abundant petunias with extended bloom times are more likely to keep hummingbirds coming back to your yard.
You don't have to worry about picking the most fragrant petunias, as hummingbirds aren't drawn to scent as much as some other pollinators.
Types of Petunias To Grow in Your Garden to Attract Hummingbirds
Some popular petunia varieties that are winners when it comes to hummingbirds include:
- Petunia 'African Sunset': An award-winning variety that grows up to 1 foot tall quickly and produces abundant striking orange blooms right through spring to early fall.
- Petunia 'Bingo Red': Developed for their ability to bloom earlier in the season than many petunias, 'Bingo Red' provides an early source of nectar for arriving hummingbirds, and the bright red blooms are sure to draw them in. The compact, upright plants are ideal for container gardens too.
- Petunia 'Easy Wave Pink Passion': With enticing pink blooms that will stand out in your yard, this low-maintenance plant grows to be 12 inches tall.
- Petunia 'Littletunia Red Fire': This variety's many bright red flowers will charm the winged wonders entering your yard. Growing to around 14 inches tall, this compact plant slots into most spaces.
- Petunia 'Success Pink Vein': Petunias are known for being easy plants to grow outdoors, and this showy pink variety, which grows to around 12 inches tall, is one of the lowest maintenance of the lot. It's perfect if you want to attract tiny birds with minimal effort.
Petunia Growing Tips
Adding petunias to your hummingbird habitat is a cinch. These prolific plants produce blooms with little effort on your part. Some top tips for caring for your petunias and keeping them in flower include:
- Pick a full sun spot to produce the maximum number of blooms.
- Steer clear of heavy soils that don't drain well.
- Petunias aren't too fussy when it comes to watering, but don't let them sit long dry or in standing water, and container-grown petunias need more frequent watering.
- Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms for hummingbirds to visit.
- Don't use pesticides on your petunias — these can be harmful to hummingbirds and other pollinators.
- Trim back leggy plants in the summer to encourage healthy new growth and more blooms.
Do petunias attract butterflies and bees?
Bees aren't as attracted to petunias as hummingbirds, but they will still feed from them if there is little else available in your yard. However, studies show that the small, purple flowers of the wild Petunia inflata have a mutated gene making them more attractive to bees because of the amount of UV light they absorb. Butterflies, like hummingbirds, tend to be drawn to red petunias more.
Can I plant multiple kinds of petunias together?
Planting multiple kinds of petunias (and other hummingbird-friendly plants) together can make your yard more enticing for visiting hummingbirds. More blooms are more eye-catching and provide more food at different times of the year. Plus, because hummingbirds are territorial creatures, adding groups in different areas of the yard means multiple birds can visit more peaceably.
What petunia is best for hummingbirds?
One petunia species that studies show is naturally attractive for hummingbirds is the wild, rare Petunia exserta. If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on some plants or seeds, they will be sure to entice these hovering head-turners. The large red flowers produce an abundance of nectar that hummingbirds love.
Rodrigues, Daniele M., et al. Do We Truly Understand Pollination Syndromes in Petunia as Much as We Suppose? AoB PLANTS, 2018.,doi:10.1093/aobpla/ply057
Verhage, Leonie. The Evolution of (the) Style: How Pollinators Get in Fashion. The Plant Journal, vol. 104, no. 2,2020, pp. 287–88., doi:10.1111/tpj.14991