Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

To Attract Hummingbirds, You Need Flowers

20150420AOne of the most desirable birds in North America is also the smallest: the tiny but very active hummingbird. What joy to receive the visit of this little winged helicopter in your own backyard! And they are so easy to attract!

The hummingbird is the only bird in North America to feed almost exclusively on floral nectar, although it does gain a few proteins by gobbling up the insects it finds in flowers. So the more flowers you have in your garden, the more likely you are to see hummingbirds visit. You can add a few hummingbird feeders as well, but remember, they aren’t that good for the bird’s health. They still need to visit more flowers than feeders if they are to thrive!

20150419BHummingbirds prefer flowers that are rich in nectar and have a tubular shape. That’s because, with their long beaks, they are often the only creatures that can reach the nectar at the end of long floral tubes, thus ensuring it is not looted beforehand by competing insects! Although popular knowledge has it that hummingbirds prefer red flowers and they do indeed love red, they will in fact visit flowers of all colors.

Here is a short list of plants that hummingbirds love to visit:

Agastache (Agastache spp.) zones 3 to 8, according to species
Apple (Malus spp.) zone 3
Azalea (Rhododendron spp.) zones 2 to 10, according to species
Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) zone 4
Beebalm (Monarda spp.) zone 3
Bellflower (Campanula spp) zones 3 to 7, according to species
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spp.) zone 3
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) zone 6b
Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa spp.) annual
Canna (Canna spp.) zone 8
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) zone 2
Catchfly (Silene spp.) zone 3
Clematis (Clematis spp.) zones 2 to 9, according to species
Cleome (Cleome hasslerana) annual
Columbine (Aquilegia spp.) zone 3
Crabapple (Malus spp.) zone 3
Crocosmia (Crocosmia spp.) zone 6
Cuphea (Cuphea spp.) annual
Currant (Ribes spp.) zone 4b
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), annual climber
Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) zone 3
Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) zone 3
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium, formerly Epilobium angustifolium) zone 1
Flowering Maple (Abutilon spp.) annual
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) annual
Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) zone 4
Foxtail Lily (Eremurus spp.) zone 4
Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.) shrub or container plant, zones 7 to 11, according to species
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) zone 3
Heuchera (Heuchera spp.) zone 3
Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) zone 3
Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) zone 3 to 6, according to species
Hosta (Hosta spp.) zone 3
Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana, I. hawkeri, etc.) annual
Lantana (Lantana camara), zone 8
Lily (Lilium spp.) zones 3 to 7, according to species
Lupin (Lupinus spp.) zone 3
Mandevilla (Mandevilla spp.) tropical climber
Mimulus (Mimulus spp.) annual
Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.) annual climber
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.) annual
Nepeta or catnip (Nepeta spp., zone 3
Pelargonium (Pelargonium spp.) annual
Penstemon (Penstemon spp.) zones 2 to 8.
Petunia, Star (Petunia exserta) annual
Phlox (Phlox spp.) zone 3b
Pink (Dianthus spp.), zones 2 to 7, according to species
Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) zones 2 to 10, according to species
Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) zone 2b
Salvia or Sage (Salvia spp.) annual et zone 4
Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus) annual climber
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) annual
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), zone 4
Tritome (Kniphofia spp.) zone 6
Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) zone 6
Verbena (Verbena spp.) annual
Weigela (Weigela spp.) zones 3 to 5, according to species
Zinnia (Zinnia spp.) annual

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “To Attract Hummingbirds, You Need Flowers

  1. Pingback: Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard | Laidback Gardener

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