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Attracting Hummingbirds



Flowers for Hummingbirds
by Diane Linsley

It's fun to watch hummingbirds drinking from red plastic feeders, but there's nothing like seeing them sipping from the flowers in your own garden. I’ve been observing hummingbirds for many years in the hope of discovering their favorite flowers. But just when I think I’ve figured it out, the funny little birds change their minds. 

One day, they spend all their time visiting the salvias, and another day, they prefer the zinnias. When I expressed my frustration at not being able identify which flowers were best, my friend said, “Well, some days you feel like eating broccoli, and other days you want chocolate cake. Maybe it’s the same way with hummingbirds.” 

So here’s my list of favorite hummingbird flowers. You might be tempted to plant only “chocolate cake”, but remember that “Variety is the spice of life”. The more selection you have, the better.

Hummingbird Flowers

Aquilegia (Columbine) -- Spring-blooming perennial in a wide range of colors. Native Aquilegia formosa has red flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) -- Drought-tolerant perennial with bright orange flowers for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

Cleome hassleriana -- This flower is useful in more ways than one. Hummingbirds like to perch on the horizontal seedpods.

Cosmos 'Ladybird Scarlet' -- I planted this near my hummingbird feeder, and I was surprised to see hummingbirds visiting the cosmos more than the feeder.

Digitalis (Foxglove) -- The tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, and the plants grow in full sun or part shade. I was surprised to see a hummingbird sipping on the pale yellow Digitalis lutea. That's what I call "hummingbird broccoli".

Eupatorium maculatum (Joe-Pye Weed) -- A native perennial that blooms in the fall. The mauve flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Hesperis matronalis -- Violet flowers in late spring. Also attracts butterflies.

Hibiscus -- Hummingbirds spot these huge flowers from across the yard, and they swoop in to investigate. I'm not sure how much nectar they have, so I plant other flowers around them to provide more food.

Impatiens balsamina (Balsam)-- Self-sowing annual with bright colors.

Ipomoea (Morning Glory) -- Hummingbirds are more attracted to the red varieties like Ipomoea luteola, but all colors are good.

Ipomopsis rubra (Standing Cypress) -- Chocolate cake for hummingbirds.

Liatris (Blazing Star) -- Tall spikes of purple flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Native perennial.

Lobelia cardinalis -- Hummingbird watchers rave over Cardinal Flower.

Lupine (Lupinus) -- Blooms in late spring before most other flowers get started.

Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross) -- The vivid red flowers are like a neon sign that says to hummingbirds, "Eat at this restaurant!" 

Mirabilis jalapa (Four O'Clock) -- The flowers close up in the heat of the afternoon, so watch for hummingbirds in the early morning or evening.

Monarda citriodora (Bee Balm) -- Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Penstemon -- Drought-tolerant, native perennials. Most species, especially the red-flowered ones like Penstemon eatonii, are hummingbird magnets.

Perovskia (Russian Sage) -- I was surprised to see a hummingbird return to this plant several times one day, especially since there was an agastache nearby that should have been more tempting.

Petunia violacea -- Easy-to-grow annual. Perfect for hanging baskets, so you can watch for hummingbirds outside the window.

Salvia (Sage) -- The best salvias for attracting hummingbirds are Salvia azurea and Salvia coccinea.

Solidago nemoralis -- One of the last flowers of the season. This native goldenrod provides nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects.

Verbena bonariensis -- Tall clusters of purple flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Zinnia elegans -- Zinnias are always a big hit!


More Flowers for Attacting Hummingbirds

Abelia, Agastache, azalea, begonia, bleeding heart, butterfly bush, canna lily, Centranthus ruber, chelone, clematis, crabapple, crocosmia, dahlia, delphinium, Dianthus barbatus, fuchsia, flowering quince, gaura, geranium, Gilia tricolor, gladiolus, hawthorne, heuchera, hollyhock, honeysuckle, hosta, iris, kniphofia, lantana, lilac, Malva sylvestris, mock orange, nasturtium, nepeta, pentas, phlox, physostegia, rose of sharon, scarlet runner bean, silene, Stachys coccinea,
sweet pea, tithonia, veronica, trumpet vine, weigela, wisteria, yucca, zauschneria.


Related Articles
Flowers for Butterflies -- Attracting butterflies with nectar and host plants.
Flowers for Beneficial Insects -- Support your local ladybugs and lacewings.
First-Year Flowering Perennials -- Get more bang for your buck.


Other Resources
Amazing pictures of baby hummingbirds by Alek Komarnitsky


Gardening Articles


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Ipomopsis rubra Standing Cypress