Hummingbirds are enjoyable to watch as they flit from one flower to another. One of the best ways to attract these birds to your yard is by providing an abundance and variety of their natural food sources and one or more hummingbird feeders. By planting and cultivating a hummingbird garden, you're providing natural food sources. But be careful before you select flowers since many plants that work well for attracting hummingbirds can get out of control and overtake your yard and garden. Consider the amount of space you have. Some species such as Trumpet Vine will pop up all over your yard if not controlled. Some varieties like Columbine are self-sowers and can easily give you many more plants than you want. However, that's a good way to add more hummingbird plants to your environment without additional expense.

It's best to provide several different areas for flowers and shrubs throughout your yard. Hummingbirds can be very territorial when feeding. Having several different spots for them to feed provides them with a better chance to feed without fighting over territory. Don't forget that these birds will stay well into fall before migrating again. Make sure you have nectar-rich flowers that will bloom late into the season. Migrating birds will need to add weight for their long migration south for the winter.

(photo mine)

(on my deck)

Most importantly, plan your hummingbird garden in advance. Be sure to add a feeder or feeders. By doing that, you won't need to be concerned about not having enough food sources in the garden to provide for them. Keep the feeders clean and remember that nectar typically spoils within 5 days. Avoid nectar with red dye. Natural nectar is colorless; adding dye to nectar only adds more chemicals the birds don't need.

In general, birds have a weak sense of smell and hummingbirds are no different. They discover their food sources by sight and not by smell. Flower fragrance has little impact on whether hummingbirds will visit them. Nectar-rich flowers will be much more attractive.

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red more than any other color. If you have a problem with wasps or bees visiting your feeder, purchase one without any yellow or white decoration.

Some Favorite Plants For Attracting Hummingbirds

AnnualsPerennialsVinesShrubs
Fuchsia Bee Balm Coral Honeysuckle Butterfly Bush
Impatiens Canna Lily Cypress Vine Flowering Quince
Jacobiana Cardinal Flower Morning Glory Lantana
Jewelweed Coral Bells Scarlet Runner Manzanita
Petunia Four O'Clocks Trumpet Creeper Mimosa
Salvia Foxglove Canary creeper Red Buckeye
Shrimp Plant Hosta Carolina jasmine Nicotiana glauca
Snapdragon Lupine Glory Vine Turks Cap
Nicotiana Columbine Cypress vine Weigela

When you're gardening to attract hummingbirds, select a variety of flowers and plants with different bloom times: spring, early summer, late summer, fall. Check the labels of any plants you consider purchasing. If you're uncertain about a plant, consult a good garden guide like Plant Files.

Avoid using chemicals, especially pesticides, on any flowers you select as food sources for birds. Hummingbirds also eat tiny insects as part of their diet and pesticides on plants can then kill adult birds and their young.

You may also want to provide nesting materials to encourage the birds to nest in your yard. Cotton and silk fibers, spiderwebs, ferns, moss and lichens are the preferred nesting materials of hummingbirds. Trees like willow, hickory, birch and chestnut produce catkins that provide downy nesting materials.

Zinnias add a lot of color to a garden. The taller varieties easily attract hummers as well as large butterflies like Monarchs. All varieties of Agastache are hummingbird favorites as is Callistemon spp. (Bottlebrush).


Milkweeds (Asclepias) - Only native milkweeds should be planted. These varieties are native in the United States: Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Antelope-horns Milkweed (Asclepias asperula), Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), California Milkweed (Asclepias californica), White milkweed (Asclepias variegata), Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), Mexican Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), Desert Milkweed (Asclepias erosa) Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis).

Verbena is one of the biggest pollinator draws in North American gardens. The tall flower spikes attract hummingbirds, Monarchs, and many other pollinators. Brightly-colored flowers that are tubular hold the most nectar and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. These include perennial bee balm, columbine, daylilies, and lupines and biennials such as foxgloves and hollyhocks as well as many annuals, including cleomes, impatiens, and petunias.

Butterfly Bushes - If you live in a region where butterfly bush is considered invasive, try a non-invasive or sterile cultivar. Currently the cultivars Asian Moon, Blue Chip, Chip Jr., Ice Chip, Inspired Pink, Pink Micro Chip, and Purple Haze have been demonstrated to be sterile. Also sterile are the Flutterby Grande™ cultivars Blueberry Cobbler Nectar Bush, Peach Cobbler Nectar Bush, Sweet Marmalade Nectar Bush, Tangerine Dream Nectar Bush, Vanilla Nectar Bush; Flutterby Petite™ Snow White Nectar Bush, and Flutterby™ Pink Nectar Bush.

Hummingbirds do not like to use traditional types of birdbaths. Instead, they prefer bathing in a spray or mist where they can fly in and out of the water. You may want to add a misting device to your birdbath or garden.

Incorporate some of these ideas into your hummingbird garden and you'll greatly improve the chances of having hummingbirds in your yard all summer long.

(Credits: https://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Attracting_Hummingbirds.html; http://www.audubon.org/content/how-create-hummingbird-friendly-yard; https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/hummingbirds; http://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-native-milkweeds-for-monarchs/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummingbird; thumbnail By Charlesjsharp [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons; male ruby-throated-By Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons; babies in nest-By Kevin Bondelli [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons); Mdf [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons)