Transform your garden into a hummingbird haven with an abundance of nectar-rich flowers, pesticide-free bugs, and plenty of trees for nesting and resting.
If you also want to provide a feeder, this is the right sugar to water ratio for homemade sugar water.
Hummingbirds In The Garden
It is mesmerizing to watch a hummingbird gathering nectar from flowers.
If you are close enough, there’s no mistaking the whirring sound of the wings as the bird hovers in place. Out comes it’s long, unusual, tongue-like proboscis, shaped just-so, reaching deep inside to access the nectar. Sometimes they take in so much they spit the excess out in a little spray!
So which flowers do hummingbirds like and why do they favor certain flowers within a garden even when many varieties are available?
There are two reasons.
Which Flowers Do Hummingbirds Like?
Hummingbirds have co-evolved with certain flower species. Many of these flowers have long, tubular structures including cardinal flower and columbine, perfectly suited to the unusual shape of the hummingbird’s bill. In turn, hummingbirds may provide pollination services.
Also, timing is everything. Nectar supply varies throughout blooming cycles. Hummingbirds and other nectar consumers will seek out the best supply in the moment. When one flower species has peaked, they find another.
But nectar is just one part of their survival.
How Can I Keep Bees Off My Hummingbird Feeder?
It’s natural for bees to be attracted to sugar water—we’re putting out fast food for them! Use these tips to choose a feeder and routine that will bee-proof your hummingbird feeder.
The Entire Environment Matters
We tend to put a lot of emphasis on flowers but it’s the totality of the environment that matters, not just within our garden but all along their migratory routes and within nesting locations.
The main staple of a hummingbird’s diet is protein-rich insects.
Hummingbirds need nectar but they also need protein and lots of it. The bulk of their diet is invertebrates like insects, spiders, and various larvae.
In order to have a garden with lots of protein-rich bugs, you need diversity. This means an assortment of non-invasive trees, shrubs, and flowers along with fresh water and healthy soil—all teeming with life. Every animal needs certain plants (and plants rely on animals), and, with all needs met, the circle of life can thrive.
So, when you think about providing a welcoming garden for hummingbirds, along with the right flowers for nectar, consider the big picture.
- Are there places to nest and shelter in trees and shrubs?
- Is there a diverse selection of plants to support the food web?
- Is the area pesticide and herbicide-free?
- Do you have healthy, fertile soil?
- Is fresh water available?
It’s touchy subject but allowing domesticated cats outdoors is another issue. We can’t stop natural predators but reducing other threats benefits all wild things.
Together, these basic things will help create a hospitable environment that the hummingbirds will return to year after year.
50 Perennials That Attract Hummingbirds
Before choosing plants, check that they are non-invasive and suited to your growing region.
Note: spp. after a plant name means species.
- Bee balm & Bergamot (Monarda spp.) Perennial in zones 4-9
- Begoniam (Begonia spp.) Perennial in zones 6-9
- Blazing star (Liatris spp.) Perennial in zones 5-9
- Bleeding heart (Lamrocapnos and Dicentra spp.) Perennial in zones 2-9
- Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Perennial in zones 4-9
- Canna (Canna generalis) Perennial in zones 8-10
- Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Perennial in zones 2-9
- Carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans) Perennial in zones 4-10
- Century plant (Agave Americana) Perennial in zones 8-10
- Columbine (Aquilegia ssp.) Perennial in zones 3-8
- Coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Dahlia (Dahlia merckii) Perennial in zones 7-9
- Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) Perennial in zones 2-9
- Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) Perennial in zones 3-7
- Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) – not recommended due to aggressive spreading
- Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) Perennial in zones 10-11
- Four-o’-Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) Perennial in zones 7-10
- Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) Perennial in zones 4-10
- Geranium (Pelargonium spp.) Perennial in zones 3-9
See how to overwinter geraniums: they are long-living annuals.
See how to grow geraniums from cuttings: they are easy to propagate.
- Gilia (Gilia ssp.) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) Perennial in zones 8-10
- Hollyhocks (Alcea spp.) Perennial in zones 2-10
- Impatiens (Impatiens spp.) Perennial in zones 10-11
- Lantana (Lantana camara) Perennial in zones 9-11
- Lily (Lilium spp.) Perennial in zones 4-9
- Lupine (Lupinus spp.) Perennial in zones 4-8
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) Perennial in zones 8-11
- Paintbrush (Castilleja spp. ) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Penstemon (Penstemon spp. ) Perennial zones 3-10
- Petunia (Petunia spp. ) Perennial in zones 10-11
- Phlox (Phlox spp. ) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Red-Hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria ) Perennial in zones 5-9
- Sage (Salvia) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Scabiosas (Scabiosa spp.) Perennial in zones 3-7
- Scarlet sage (Salvia splendens ) Perennial in zones 10-11
- Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana and Tarenaya hassleriana ) Perennial in zones 3-10
- Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) Perennial in zones 3-9
- Verbena (Verbena spp.) Perennial in zones 6-10
- Yucca (Yucca spp.) Perennial in zones 4-10
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Recommended Hummingbird Feeder
Hummingbird Feeder | Amazon
I like this style of feeder for a few reasons. First, it provides a perch for the birds as they feed. This is important so they don’t waste energy. Also, it’s easy to clean, which helps prevent disease.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛