Thursday, 17 January 2013

What Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?

Hummingbird Feeding From Flower
A Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird feeds on nectar from a red flower. Hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers especially but will also feed from flowers of different colors.

Plants That Attract Hummingbirds
Of all the birds in the world that people love to watch, the hummingbirds are surely the most fascinating and attractive.
You can attract these birds to your garden in several ways. One way is to put out specially designed nectar feeders but you can also attract them naturally by planting the right kind of plants.
Hummingbirds feed on the nectar which, by the aid of their long curved bills, they extract from deep within the flowers of certain plants.
Many of these plants are surprisingly easy to cultivate and will soon be discovered by the birds. Especially if you are on or near an established migration route.
There isn't a square foot of North America and Southern Canada that isn't visited by hummingbirds at some point during the year.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
It is commonly known that hummingbirds eat nectar - either naturally from flowers or sugar solutions put out in plastic feeders - but not so many realize that their diet is much more varied.
While the nectar is an essential source of immediate energy that these tiny, energetic birds need to sustain their active lifestyles and high metabolism, they also need proteins, fats and salts in their diet.
Insects, insect eggs and larvae, even spiders provide important nutrition for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have to eat dozens of insects, grubs or spiders each day in order to survive.
They will pick them from tree bark, from plants and even take them on the wing.
Many of the flowers that attract hummingbirds are not only those that provide nectar but also those that attract the insects they like to eat.
Anna's Hummingbird (calypte anna) Feeding on Nectar
Hummingbirds enjoy nectar from the many flowering plants that will attract them to your yard but they also feast on insects, grubs and spiders.
Choosing Plants and Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds
There are a lot of plants and flowers that will attract humming birds to your backyard.
Hummingbirds can't smell and so they are drawn to plants by their color. This means that creating a hummingbird garden is good not just for the birds but a great way of making a beautiful, multi-colored splash of flora in your backyard, too!
There are such a variety of plants that hummingbirds like that you will be spoiled for choice.
There are small flowering plants, shrubs, vines and creepers, trees ... if you enjoy garden design you will have plenty to play with and give expression to your creative side as well as helping and attracting hummingbirds.
Although the wild plants generally produce more nectar than the cultivars, you should never take plants from the wild. You'll find that your local nursery or plant store will be able to advise you about the plants that will do best in your part of the world.

There Are Lots Of Varieties Of Flowering Plants To Attract Hummingbirds

A good example of an excellent array of plants providing both food, cover and perching to attract insects and hummingbirds.
Gardening For Hummingbirds
Here is a selection of the best flowers for attracting hummingbirds into your yard. It's a good idea to plant a variety of different species so that they will flower at different times. That means more food for the birds and more opportunities for you to see them.
Think carefully about where you plant - the birds will want some safe shelter and good perching spots, too. They use enormous energy when hovering and will need safe spots to rest between bouts of feeding. If you can manage to plant a good mix of trees, shrubs and flowers that is ideal.
Equally, a few pots and hanging baskets can look lovely. Hanging baskets suspended from a tree are very pretty and provide the hummingbirds with the shelter and perching points that they need.
A very shallow dish of water can be good for them, too. They won't drink it as they get all their water requirements from the nectar, but they will love to bathe and preen.
Now lets look at some of the best plants and flowers for hummingbirds.

Azaleas Attract Hummingbirds
Azaleas are great for hummingbirds, come in a large number of varieties, are easy to grow and have masses of beautiful flowers.
Top 10 Trees, Shrubs and Smaller Plants That Attract Hummingbirds
These are the top ten most popular, easy to get and easy to grow plants that are guaranteed to bring hummingbirds flocking to your garden or backyard.
Azaleas belong to the genus Rhododendron and now come in literally thousands of varieties, from small plants that can be kept in pots to those that will grow into substantial shrubbery.
There are too many to list each one in this article but your local nursery will be able to advise you about the hybrids best suited to the area in which you live. Throughout North America, there are azaleas suited to all conditions.
The North American varieties are deciduous (they lose their leaves in the fall) and are quite hardy and easy to grow. They like a moist, slightly acidic soil around the base so a good mulch of pine bark chips around them is great for raising the acidity and keeping in the moisture.
Once established, most azaleas will pretty much look after themselves. You can prune them occasionally to keep them to the size you want them.

Red & Pink Flowers Are best For Attracting Humming Birds
When choosing flowers to attract hummingbirds, red and pink varieties are the best.
Azaleas also produce masses of gorgeous blooms ranging in color from purest white, through pinks and purples, to bright red hues. The pinks and the reds are the best for attracting the attention of the hummingbirds.
Buddleia Is Great For Butterflies And Hummingbirds
Buddleia is a plant that produces a mass of tiny blooms and will attract not only hummingbirds but plenty of butterflies and insects, too.
Buddleia (sometimes called The Butterfly Bush) makes an excellent plant to grow in any backyard or garden.
Like azaleas, they are easy to cultivate and care for. They also produce masses of beautiful flowers throughout the summer season and will attract lots of butterflies and other insects along with the hummingbirds.
You can let your buddleia grow to quite a size, although to keep it bushy and compact and ensure a good froth of blooms every year, quite severe cutting back in the winter is recommended.
They produce long fronds of masses of tiny flowers and there are many beautiful colors to choose from.
Cape Honeysuckle
Cape honeysuckle creates a delicious splash of rich color against very attractive foliage. And hummingbirds love it!
Originally from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, this stunning plant is cultivated all across the States and has even established itself in the wild in parts of Florida.
It grows up into a rampant, exuberant shrub bursting with exotic blooms. On summer evenings it fills the air with delicious, heady perfumes. The hummingbirds will not appreciate that but they will be attracted by its lovely, delicate flowers and feast on the rich nectar that it produces.
Despite its African origins it is surprisingly hardy, flowers all winter long and will survive temperatures a few degrees below zero.
It needs good drainage, some cutting back or training and a bright sunny position.
Flowering Quince
Orignially from Japan, this is a beautiful flowering tree which is highly favored by many hummingbird species who are attracted by its pinkish-red flowers.
Flowering Quince is a large, bushy, tree-like shrub that grows fast and produces a firework-like display of blossoms.
The best variety for attracting hummingbirds is the Texas Scarletwhich furnishes a profusion of bright red flowers in the early spring.
It will grow pretty much anywhere except in extremely alkaline conditions. It will benefit from a good, manure mulch from time to time and plenty of water.
Partial shade is good for this plant but it will thrive in an open, sunny spot just as well.
It is also worth pruning it back to get the best flowers and fruit. Because, of course, once your hummingbirds have moved on to other plants, the Quince will furnish you with a bounty of fruit which is great for making jelly in the fall!

Quince Produces Useful Fruit
The Quince doesn't only produce flowers that attract hummingbirds but also delicious fruits that you can eat!

Trumpet Creeper
The Trumpet Creeper is great for hummingbirds and is a very attractive climbing plant that also provides good cover.
Magnificent bright scarlet blooms against a backdrop of dark green foliage have gained this rampant climber a great reputation. The flowers are frequently three or four inches in length.
It is also one of the flowers preferred by the beautiful ruby-throated hummingbirds. There are really no other creatures aside from bees that can get access to the deep well of sticky nectar at the base of the flower.
Bear in mind that this is a plant that will grow fast and furious, sending out tendrils to colonize other areas and so you do need to keep it under control by cutting it back and looking out for wind-blown seeds that have taken purchase where you may not want them.
That said, it really is worth the little extra trouble that you might take to provide for the hummingbirds who will repay you a hundred fold in beauty and delight.
Hummingbird Mint
Hummingbird Mint is a hardy perrenial that makes a great border or meadow plant, is hardy, rigorous and produces lovely whorls of long flowers in summer.
All the cultivars of Hummingbird Mint are easy to grow and will thrive even in fairly exposed conditions. They make great plants to mix in as part of a varied herbaceous border and will give a good return of color and scent year after year.
Hummingbird Mint can grow up to four feet in height so is best placed towards the back of a cascade.
If you need something smaller that has all the same qualities, then there is a dwarf variety called Purple Pygmy which would be worth looking out for.
Cardinal Flower
The Cardinal Flower is a lovely plant with bright red flowers very attractive to hummingbirds of all kinds.
The cardinal Flower has a burst of very ostentatious red flowers on top of strong stems feathered with dark green foliage.
It prefers a moist, semi-shady spot and is ideal at the edge of a woodland or shrubbery. In the north particularly it benefits from a good thick mulch around the base to over-winter it.
This is a relatively hardy perennial that keeps good foliage even in the winter and so never looks ragged as some similar plants do.
It grows wild across North America and is entirely dependent on the hummingbirds for pollination. recently, unauthorized harvesting has led to a decline in the wild species, so planting the genetically identical garden variety will help not only the hummingbirds but also assist in conserving the wild population as the pollen is disseminated.
Columbines are beautiful, exotic flowers that prefer shady spots, perhaps overshadowed by trees.
Columbines in the wild are naturally woodland plants. In the yard, however, they are still surprisingly easy to grow.
They prefer partial sunshine or even constant, dappled shade, such as they would have in their woodland habitat.
They will not do well in exposed spots and bright, direct sunlight so you should plan carefully where you want to place them.
They prefer a moist, rich soil that still has reasonable drainage. They also grow successfully even in high altitudes as they are adapted well to mountain forest.
The flowers illustrated above are the red variety but there is a wide range of colors, including purples, whites, pinks and yellows.
They attract hummingbirds well and also a range of insects that the hummingbirds will be happy to eat.

Long, tubular, purple-pink flowers with speckled bits. Highly recognizable and adored by hummingbirds.
Foxglove is a plant that will do well in a shady garden, especially a woodland area or in a partially covered herbaceous border.
It has a very striking appearance, pushing up long spears topped with a cascade of tubular flowers of delicious color that are lightly speckled towards the base. Foxglove puts on its best display towards the midsummer and is a great one for bringing in the hummingbirds
The most common color is a deep pink but their are also red, purple, white and yellow varieties. Some only flower every two years and so you'd need to plant twice to get color each year and nectar for the birds. They have a short lifespan but readily self-seed.
They really are considered weeds in some places and are very low maintenance.
They like fairly wet soil but not so much that puddles remain after rainfall.

Mimosa is a beautiful tree with a good shape and plenty of flowers that attract hummingbirds.
Mimosa is a deciduous tree growing to about 25 feet in height with pale, brown bark.
The leaves are long fronds composed of lots of smaller leaves and it furnishes a massive froth of tiny flowers, most commonly yellow but there are other colors, too. The formation of the leaves and flowers makes the tree look 'feathery.'
Mimosa starts flowering in early May and continues in flower through June and into early July.
As a tree it can be quite tall and provides not only nectar for the hummingbirds but shelter and perching places, too.

It is pretty much self-sustaining and can tolerate even very dry conditions.
Feeding Hummingbirds
So there you have ten good plants to get started with that produce flowers that will attract hummingbirds and are easy to cultivate and care for.
You can, of course, also feed them with specially prepared, commercially produced nectar given in hanging feeders, too. There are some great feeders on the market and you should use a commercially produced nectar so that you are sure the sucrose balance is right for the birds
This is a great way to get the birds to come up really close to where you can enjoy observing them.
Good luck with your hummingbird gardening, any effort you make will be greatly rewarded.


  1. Today we found a hummingbird eating dog feces. It spent several minutes then left and came back. We have had hummingbirds around our house forever and have always had dogs. Never seen this before. Is this common?

  2. Hi DocH,

    Well, I have never heard of that before but I may have an explanation. You see, while everyone is pretty much familiar with the fact that hummingbirds eat nectar, that is by no means the only constituent of their diet as they also need a high percentage of protein which they get through eating very small invertebrates and insects. Is it possible that rather than eating the dog faeces per se, the bird was actually taking tiny insects, flies and such, which were attracted to the dog faeces? I am confident that the bird wasn't actually eating the dog doo but this alternative explanation strikes me as a reasonable one.

    Thanks for your comment and if I find any more information on this, I'll let your know. Check the doo for tiny insects.

    Kind regards, A.


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