Top 5 Plants To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Yard

Top 5 Plants To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Yard

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Like a blur of wings, Hummingbirds zip and fly through the air, looking for a tasty treat to snack on, flitting from bloom to bloom. 

It’s rare enough to see one, but flocks of these flying jewels are known by many names - including Bouquets, Glitterings, Hovers, a Shimmer, or a Tune. Important pollinators and sometimes as rare to see as a fairy. With rapier-like bills and iridescent jewel-tone plumage, at least 60 are either near threatened, vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

Found only in the Americas, hummingbirds are attracted to red and orange flowers but have been known to feed on other colored flowers. They also tend to prefer flowers that are trumpet-shaped. They have superb color vision and see ultraviolet light. Their small, narrow beaks can easily reach the nectar that typically is not obtainable by other insects and bird pollinators.

Hummingbird Facts

One of the smallest birds and smallest migratory birds, Hummingbirds are named for the hum their near-constant flapping wings create as they buzz around. Their high-energy sugar diets make it necessary for the birds to feed every 10 to 15 minutes and enter a type of torpor at night so they don’t use as much energy. This is like hibernation but only at night and in times of rest.

Known to pluck insects straight out of spider webs, or even steal the entire web to build their nests. They use the sticky webs to stick together lichens and moss. Highly territorial, Hummingbirds are fierce enough to chase away other creatures from their area, even Red-Tailed Hawks!

  • Many Hummingbirds weigh around a US nickel hummingbird sucking nectar out of pink flower
  • Can flap their wings 50-80 beats per second!
  • The only birds that can fly backward and even upside down!
  • While resting, Hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute
  • Sight hunters and not smell - Prefer red and orange flower hues
  • Can only side-step or hop on their tiny feet
  • Drink double their body weight in nectar a day
  • Can flip their tongues 13 times per second
  • Females lay about 2 eggs the size of a mini-jelly bean!
  • Hummingbirds often return to the same area each year to nest
  • 330 species throughout North and South America
  • Sword-Billed Hummingbirds have an extremely long bill that is 5.5 inches long
  • For their size - Hummingbirds fly with speeds up to 37 mph and 60 mph courtship dives

All 340 living Hummingbird species live exclusively in North and South America. Hummingbirds don’t flock together, so you won’t see a swarm traveling with the Rufous Hummingbird thathummingbird flying by bed of flowers migrates 4,000 miles from Alaska to Mexico each year. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only species of Hummingbirds that nest east of the Mississippi River in North America!

The most common is the Ruby-Throated and Anna’s, but there is also the Black-Chinned, Allen’s, Costa’s, Broad-Tailed, Berylline, Calliope, Green-Breasted, White-Eared, Broad-Billed, Violet-Crowned and Blue-Throated, Buff-Bellied, and Rufous Hummingbird. There’s even the aptly named Magnificent, a Lucifer, Xantus's, Cinnamon, and Plain-Capped Starthroat.

The Calliope is the smallest US Hummingbird breed in meadows and open forests of the Northwestern mountains. Migrating over 5,000 miles each year to Pine and Oak forests in Mexico. About the size of a ping-pong ball, it’s amazing these little balls of feathers can tolerate the chilly Rocky Mountains all breeding season.

The largest is a tie between the 8-gram Plain-Capped Starthroat and the Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem that migrate to the US from Mexico and Central America. Three times larger than the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

The Hummingbird-Friendly Garden

The best habitat for Hummingbirds includes food, shelter, and water access to bring them into your landscape and keep them there! Hummingbirds love flowers in the red color range and ofhummingbird landing on a feeder course anything tubular to fit their sword-like bills. Native plants are more recognizable by these dainty birds, but many nectar-rich hybrids and native cultivars are available too!

While my yard is full of pollinator and hummingbird plants, the only place I’ve seen the blur of their wings in my garden of late is my neighbor's Butterfly bush, visiting my Trumpet Vine in late summer, and they were absolutely enthralled by the Arugula that went to flower! Two out of three so-called ‘Hummingbird plants’ aren’t bad! I now always let my Arugula go to flower in hopes of catching a glimpse of one again!

Provide their favorite blooms but also spread your plants out for these aerial fairies to easily flit from bloom to bloom unobstructed. Set up a Hummingbird feeder and keep clean watering stations and bird baths with landing edges, or pebbles for them to land on without getting their feet wet. If you have a gently babbling brook or water feature with safe landing zones, or spraying water from fountains or sprinklers, then they will love to bathe and drink while keeping cool.

Provide bushy trees and shrubs for Hummingbirds to take shelter in and feel safe, and evergreen shrubs and trees for year-round cover and shade. Preferring multiple levels of shrub and tree heights to give them many options for nesting and shelter. This also allows them to forage for the occasional insect when they’re wanting more variety in their diets!

When using Hummingbird feeders, opt for nectar that isn’t full of red food coloring and preservatives. You should also avoid confectioners’ sugar and anything with corn starch in the ingredients. Never use honey, corn syrup or raw/unprocessed sugar when making your own nectar. Learn about caring for Hummingbird feeders in our Garden Blog here!

DIY Hummingbird Nectar

Boil your own homemade nectar and keep it in the fridge only adding enough for a couple of days at a time to keep a fresh supply available in your yard.

  • 4 parts granulated sugar, 1 part water (use no food coloring)
  • boil for 2 minutes.
  • Cool and refrigerate 

Fill feeders enough to last for a couple of days and then add fresh. 

Check out this crowd-sourced Hummingbird migration sighting for the Spring of 2023 at Hummingbird Central! This will let you know what birds are zipping through your area and which are staying put to breed.

#1 Perennials That Attract Hummingbirds

There are tons of Perennial plants that are Hummingbird-friendly and all have wonderful nectar-rich flowers that Hummingbirds love! Planting perennial plants in your landscape can provide season-long feeding stations for Hummingbirds as they migrate or nest in your area for the summer.

#2 Flowering Shrubs That Attract Hummingbirds

The first time I had ever seen a Hummingbird was as it visited the hot-pink blooms of this poor Weigela bush that looked like it had been backed over by numerous cars and trucks in a parking lot. So those are my go-to for attracting them! In reality, any long-blooming or repeat-blooming flowering ornamental shrub with tubular blossoms in their favorite colors will work for your yard!

#3 Flowering Vines

Many flowering vines are ornamental, double-duty in the landscape, and have loads of blooms that Hummingbirds love! They are space-saving and vertical - giving Hummingbirds plenty of room to maneuver. I’ve never seen more Hummingbirds in one place than this one Red Cardinal Climber Vine/Cypress Vine (Ipomoea × multifida) at the local botanical garden! These are also some nectar-rich Hummingbird favorites -

#4 Flowering Trees

While having shorter-lived blooms than many shrubs or perennials, Trees provide the height and safety and loads of flowers in the spring or summer that also feed many Hummingbirds! Plus their size means plenty for all!

#5 Annuals For Hummingbirds

Annuals are fast-growing seasonal plants that flower with abandon. Tall flowering plants and Biennials such as Foxgloves and Hollyhocks are as loved by Hummers as they are their Spinx Moth imposters!

  • Cleome Spider Flowers hummingbird and fuchsia
  • Impatiens
  • Flowering Tobacco
  • Morning Glory
  • Mandevilla Vines
  • Petunias
  • Annual Salvia
  • Fuchsia
  • Mexican Sunflowers
  • Zinnias

Try using any combination of these plants, and other plants that have similar colors and flower shapes in your garden to encourage Hummingbirds to come and feed in your garden. Providing water sources and perching points for the birds will also help you see Hummingbirds all season long!

Dangers For Hummingbirds Today

There are so many dangers for these tiny birds! From the usual pesticides and climate change issues to interruptions in their migratory paths, to the usual natural issues like aggressive animals like squirrels, chipmunks, blue jays, and crows that eat hummingbird eggs and babies. Snakes, lizards, and frogs won’t think twice to nab a low-flying bird. Even insects like large spiders and Praying Mantis can catch and eat these tiny birds. 

Protect your visiting Hummingbirds from the dangers of today with a few key reminders - 

  • Not enough cover/shelter from the heat, drought, strong winds, downpours, etc. hummingbird drinking water
  • Help fight habitat loss - food sources dwindling, infighting for territory, climate change
  • Provide clean water/food sources
  • Reduce pesticide and artificial fertilizer use
  • Window strikes - use window markers so they can avoid collisions
  • Cat predators - Put a bell on your feline friend
  • Reduce or selectively use pesticides and herbicides that may contaminate flower nectar
  • Provide clean drinking water out of reach of the above dangers.

Lastly, do not use chemical pesticides in your yard. Hummingbirds feed on insects for protein, and can accidentally ingest poisoned ones. Best to let hummingbirds control the bug problem. And do not spray your flowers with pesticides; hummingbirds will be certain to ingest it when they gather nectar from the blossoms.

Winged Jewels

Add to the enjoyment of your landscape by attracting winged pollinators and hummingbirds to your garden! Break out a comfy chair inside or out with the camera at the ready, and catch a glimpse of these tiny jeweled fighter jets!

Head on over to the Nature Hills Nursery website to start getting your garden up to these picky birds' standards! You’ll be glad you did!

Happy Planting!

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