Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds

Hummingbird at Cardinal Flower

Robert & Pat Rogers/Flickr/CC by 2.0

Birders who want to host hummingbirds in their backyards need to plan bird-friendly landscaping, especially flowers that attract hummingbirds. Just any pretty bloom isn’t enough, however, and the flowers that are most attractive to hummingbirds have certain characteristics in common. The best hummingbird flowers

  • Produce large amounts of nectar for the birds to drink
  • Are shaped for hummingbirds’ long bills to sip the nectar effectively
  • Feature bright colors, including red shades, to catch hummingbirds' attention

Choosing Hummingbird Flowers

When selecting the best flowers for attracting hummingbirds, birders need to consider more than just whether or not a hummingbird will drink from the flower. It is also important to choose several varieties of flowers that bloom at different times, so nectar is available from early spring through late summer, giving the birds a rich food source throughout the season. Flowers with very little fragrance will be less attractive to bees, which can help eliminate the problem of insects on hummingbird feeders. Finally, all the flowers should be suitable for the climate, temperature, soil, and level of sunlight in the yard so they will bloom well and produce healthy, rich flowers.

Flowers Attractive to Hummingbirds

Many different types of flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. When planning your hummingbird garden, consult a local nursery or landscape specialist about which blooms are best for your region and the characteristics of your yard.

The most popular hummingbird flowers include:

  • Bleeding Hearts
  • Columbine
  • Desert Trumpet
  • Calico Bush
  • Columbia Lily
  • Scarlet Creeper
  • Red Fireweed
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Bee Balm
  • Carpet Bugle
  • Impatiens
  • Petunias
  • Salvia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Coral Bells
  • Fuchsia
  • Larkspur
  • Cannas
  • Zinnias
  • Coneflowers

These are not the only flowers that hummingbirds will visit, but they are proven favorites that can attract hummingbirds quickly and keep the birds coming back all summer long.

Tips for Hummingbird Gardens

Creating a hummingbird-friendly landscape takes more than just planting the right flowers to attract hummingbirds to your garden. For the best results

  • Combine both annual and perennial flowers. Perennials will bloom for years and offer longer-lasting blooms, while annuals are a bolder burst of color that can attract greater numbers of birds. Having both in your yard will minimize gardening chores while maximizing the hummingbirds that visit.
  • Plant flowers in tiers and use plants that grow to different heights. Some hummingbirds prefer taller stems, while others want to be closer to the ground, and providing layered vegetation gives the birds more options to choose from. If the plants are all the same height, consider creating a sloping garden or using flower boxes to add tiers. Be sure taller plants are in the back and shorter plants in the front, so your views of the birds aren't blocked.
  • Choose blooms in a variety of colors. While red is one of the most attractive shades to hummingbirds, they will drink from any suitable flower no matter what it's color. A more varied garden will attract more birds. If you want to ensure a bold red color in the garden, add a red gazing ball, painted red bench, red bird bath or similar piece near the flowers.
  • Remove faded flowers throughout the season. Hummingbirds recognize that wilted flowers have no more nectar and will avoid bushes with many faded blooms in favor of better feeding locations. Removing the faded flowers can also encourage the plants to produce additional blooms to generate more nectar for the birds to sip.
  • Avoid using any pesticides or insecticides to manage the hummingbird flowers. These chemicals can be harmful to the birds and will also kill the insects that are another important source of hummingbird food. Instead, attract even more birds, and you'll have natural pest control to manage insect populations.
  • Add a mister or small dripper near the flowerbeds to give hummingbirds a source of water and leave some branches available for the birds to perch when they are not feeding. These tactics will keep the birds around the garden for more extended periods and may even encourage hummingbirds to nest nearby.

By choosing the best flowers for hummingbirds and planting them appropriately, any birder can create a beautiful hummingbird habitat in their backyard.