Hummingbirds are not only beautiful and fascinating, as well as elusive and funny, but they’re also wonderful pollinators! These tiny, fast-moving birds burn up a lot of calories staying in the air and are constantly feeding. In the daylight hours. It’s possible to purchase a hummingbird feeder, but the sugary water (which is often artificially colored) is not necessarily the best food for them.
These hard-working birds rely on the protein in plant pollen, so they’re much happier if there is fresh flower nectar available. Here are some perennials and annuals loved by hummingbirds that may draw them to your garden!
In addition to planting hummingbird-friendly flowers in your garden, you can create a hospitable environment for them in other ways. Eliminating the use of pesticides ensures a safe environment for pollinators.
Planting pollinator-friendly flowers in one corridor attracts more of them than in smaller separate planting areas. Shrubs and trees with plenty of small branches allow hummingbirds to perch and rest for a moment from their energetic feeding frenzies.
1. Bee Balm (Monarda) ~ Native to the Northwest and Southwest United States,
these colorful flowers are related to the mint family and, like mints, can spread
quite aggressively in the garden, so give them some space. They’re easy to
divide, though, just dig or pull up the shallow roots to keep them under control.
The herby scent and bright colors attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and
other pollinators. They like the sun and need a bit of space around them for airflow.
To prevent mildew growth on the leaves. These plants are somewhat drought-
tolerant, and don’t do well in a humid environment. Bright red ‘Cambridge
Scarlet’ and deep magenta ‘Raspberry Wine’ are popular heirloom monardas.
The newer hybrids are more compact and mildew resistant and come in a
range of colors, including reds, pinks, and purples.
2. Flowering Catmint (Nepeta) ~ With its pale purple-blue flowers and minty
scent, this hardy herb puts on a luscious show for weeks. It’s a staple in the
cottage-style garden and adds nice cool shades of blue-green foliage. Not only
beloved by cats, but it also attracts hummingbirds! The stems grow to about 2 feet
tall (though some varieties are smaller and tend to hug the ground), and it’s
fun to see hummingbirds sip from their tiny tubular flowers. It spreads from
the base and can be divided every 2-3 years to keep the clumps at a
3. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) ~ This bright red lobelia is attractive in
the garden with a long period of bloom. Though hummingbirds are more
attracted to nectar than color, they do tend to gravitate toward red flowers.
The cardinal flower is a tall, sturdy native that grows from 2 to 4 feet tall. It is
hardy in USDA zones 3-9 and likes plenty of suns to keep it blooming.
the spent blooms to encourage more flowers. Lobelia comes in blue varieties
as well, though hummingbirds show a slight preference for red ones.
4. Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) ~ A hardy and fast-growing native vine with
brightly colored orange or red flowers, the trumpet vine is also sometimes
known as hummingbird vine. The birds love their bright conical flowers, which are easy to sip nectar from. It is considered very invasive (and is, in fact, no longer
Available for purchase in some states that have outlawed it), but one sees
many of them growing in established gardens because their lush blooms are
so gorgeous in summer. Choose the planting location with caution and give
them a sturdy structure to climb on (such as a fence, gazebo, or free-standing
arbor). They benefit from frequent pruning. Keep an eye on them and plant
away from trees and shrubs to prevent the fast-growing vines from spreading
up into branches.
5. Larkspur/Delphinium ~ With its tall, fluffy flower spikes in bold colors, the
delphinium is a delightful presence in the cottage-style garden and makes a
nice cut flower. These perennials like loamy soil and plenty of sun. The annual
variety of delphinium is often known as larkspur and is also attractive to
hummingbirds and pollinators. These flowers come in a range of colors, from
white to pastel, pink, blues, and purples. The annual variety is smaller and can
be grown from seed. The perennial varieties can grow up to 4 feet tall! The full
blooming spikes may need support stakes.
6. Eastern Red Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) ~ These gorgeous native
perennials produce airy, abundant blooms in mid-spring, making them a good
early-season food source for pollinators. Studies have shown that red flowering
varieties of columbines have higher sugar content than other colors, which is
good news for hummingbirds! Once established, they will reseed freely, even
producing hybrid color varieties if you have more than one color planted. They
will flower in partial shade to full sun.
7. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) ~ These wonderful shrubs sport panicles covered in
tiny fragrant flowers that attract butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds.
The butterfly bush is hardy to Zone 6 and benefits from being planted in a full-sun area. These flowering dynamos come in many colors, from white to pink,
blue and purple. Some newer hybrids are compact and stay below 2 feet tall,
but many buddleias will grow to 8 feet tall or taller! Trimming it back each fall
keeps it more compact; it will regenerate new branches in spring. It can also be
pruned generously once flowers begin to die back. The butterfly bush will keep
putting forth blooms throughout autumn.