10 Great Plants for Attracting Hummingbirds

Hummingbird and Red Salvia
Straublund Photography / Getty Images

Seeing a hummingbird darting through your garden is as delightful as seeing your flowers burst into bloom. To attract hummingbirds and keep them coming back to your garden regularly, make sure that, along with hummingbird feeders, you include a few hummingbird plants in your design.

What makes a plant a hummingbird favorite? It needs to be nectar-rich and preferably tubular in shape, which encourages the tiny birds to feed. Some popular choices are outlined below.

  • 01 of 10

    Agastache (Agastache spp.)

    Agastache var. painted lady, tubular flowers on spikes, july
    Stephen Robson / Getty Images

    There are many varieties of Agastache, and all of them are high in nectar. Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris), shown here, is part of a group sometimes called the hummingbird mints. These flowers are also butterfly magnets.

    More border plants that are open invitations to hummingbirds are bee balm (Monarda hybrids), which also lives up to its name and attracts bees by the hiveful; and those towers of flowers like delphinium, hollyhocks, and foxgloves.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 5 to 10
    Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Bloom Period: Summer into fall

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  • 02 of 10

    Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

    Cardinal Flower. Lobelia cardinalis. Deep red wildflower pollinated by hummingbirds. Michigan.
    Ed Reschke / Getty Images

    Cardinal Flowers are a great choice for adding drama to a shady corner. Hummingbirds can spot their vivid red flowers no matter where you tuck them. And they are native plants in many areas.

    Another native plant choice, also great for partial shade, is red columbine. Hummingbirds adore the sweet nectar and appreciate the early-blooming food source.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 2 to 9
    Exposure: Full sun to partial shade (needs more shade in hot climates areas)
    Bloom Period: Summer into fall

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  • 03 of 10

    Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

    Close-up of heuchera flowers against geranium
    Michael Roberts / Getty Images

    Who would have thought the delicate flowers of coral bells would be large enough to attract hummingbirds? Coral bells are a favorite of hummingbirds, but they only bloom once a season, and many gardeners cut them off in order to divert energy into the plant's leaves. If you want hummers to visit you, let the plants bloom.

    There are many great perennials that will keep your hummingbirds happy. Choose a hosta with beautiful flowers, like the sweet-smelling Hosta plantaginea. Or try one of the long bloomers like lupine and liatris.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8
    Exposure: full sun to partial shade
    Bloom Period: late spring/ early summer

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  • 04 of 10

    Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

    Mirabilis jalapa, four o'clock pink flower
    Cris Cantón / Getty Images

    Four o'clocks do not open until late in the afternoon, but they are worth waiting for. Their tubular flowers are perfectly shaped for visiting hummingbirds.

    If you'd like to get an earlier start, morning glories (Ipomoea tricolor) open with the sun and remain open until the afternoon heat. They also re-seed readily on their own, so although they are annuals, you often only need to plant them once. Be careful: morning glories can quickly overtake your garden.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11
    Exposure: full sun
    Bloom Period: mid-summer

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  • 05 of 10

    Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.)

    Fuchsia Flowers
    phototropic / Getty Images

    There are more than 100 species of fuchsia. Most of them are tropical or semi-tropical tender perennials and are grown in many areas as annuals, but there are a few cultivars that are hardy to zone 6. The trailing varieties are perfect for hanging baskets and can attract a wide variety of visitors, wherever you hang them.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 6 to 11​
    Exposure: partial shade
    Bloom Period: mid-summer into fall

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  • 06 of 10

    Lantana (Lantana camara)

    Lantana flower in bloom
    Blanchi Costela / Getty Images

    Lantana is a plant recommended for novice gardeners. It is a striking plant, and if you are lucky enough to be growing it in USDA zone 7b or higher, you can grow it into a shrub or even a standard the size of a small tree. The rest of us can still enjoy it as an annual. It's also nice in containers.

    For those in cooler climates, try rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), also a woody shrub capable of being trained into a small tree and covered in flowers for weeks on end.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 7b to 11 ​
    Exposure: full sun
    Bloom Period: summer into fall

    Some trailing varieties of lantana work well in containers or hanging baskets. 

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  • 07 of 10

    Petunia (Hybrids, P. axillaris x P. integrifolia)

    Close-Up Of Purple Flowering Plants
    Tvn Phph Prung Sakdi / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Who hasn't grown petunias? They're a garden staple. The flowers are also the perfect shape for a hummingbird dinner. Some of the newer varieties are not particularly fragrant and may not have as much nectar as the older open-pollinated varieties, but give them a try.

    Petunias naturally trail, making them great for hanging baskets. If you'd like a longer vine for trailing or climbing, some good choices include canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum), cardinal vine/ cypress vine (Ipomoea sloteri), and the quick growing scarlet runner bean.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11, usually grown as an annual
    Exposure: full sun
    Bloom Period: spring through fall

    This plant works welling in containers or hanging baskets. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Salvia (Salvia cultivars)

    Salvia flowers
    Lisa Romerein / Getty Images

    New salvia varieties are constantly being introduced, and they are wonderful for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your gardens. Whether the blues of mealy cup sage (Salvia farinacea), 'Black and Blue' anise sage (Salvia guaranitica), or scarlet lady in red, these hummingbird plants will bloom virtually non-stop throughout the season.

    Although gardeners might take impatiens for granted, hummingbirds see them for the treat they are. Another annual hummingbird plant that has been in gardens for generations is flowering tobacco or nicotiana.

    Hardiness: varies by species; ranges from zone 5 to 10
    Exposure: full sun to partial shade
    Bloom Period: spring through fall

    This plant works welling in containers. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

    Blooming Snapdragon
    aimintang / Getty Images

    Snapdragon flowers only snap shut on children's fingers—a fact that generally delights them. Hummingbirds can navigate them with ease. Snapdragons are cool-season bloomers, attracting the first hummers to visit your garden and making an encore at the end of the season.

    Bleeding heart (Dicentra species) are equally charming to both gardener and hummingbird and, like snapdragons, they prefer cool spring weather.

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 8 to 9
    Exposure: full sun to partial shade
    Bloom Period: prefers the cool seasons of spring and fall

    This plant works welling in containers. 

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  • 10 of 10

    Weigela (Weigela cultivars)

    Weigela Flowers
    Masahiro Nakano/a.collectionRF / Getty Images

    Weigela is making a big comeback after being written off as a stuffy old shrub. New varieties have colorful and/or cut-leaf foliage, giving them a long season of interest. Most also have flowers with the tubular shape favored by hummingbirds.

    Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is an even earlier bloomer, and butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) will bloom throughout most of the summer, (Note, buddleia has become invasive in some areas.)

    Hardiness: USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9
    Exposure: full sun to partial shade ​
    Bloom Period: late spring/ early summer

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Article Sources
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  1. Butterflybush. University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health