How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Creating a successful hummingbird habitat is relatively easy to do. Even the smallest garden can provide the basic hummingbird needs — food, water, perches, shelter, and nesting sites. Since hummingbirds must meet most of their energy requirements feeding on nectar-producing flowers, it is important to include a variety of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and vines in your garden to support them. Hummingbirds appreciate an abundance of different flowers, from container-grown annuals (please see video below) to tall garden specimens.

Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate in the spring, arriving in the northern parts of the country in April and May. They need nectar sources that provide them with food from about May until frost. When selecting your flowering plants, consider varieties with overlapping bloom periods to assure a continuous supply of nectar. Flower color and shape are also important to keep in mind. Most blossoms favored by hummingbirds are tubular in shape and brightly colored. Scent is not a primary flower attractant for hummingbirds.

Select a variety of heights for your flowers, shrubs, and trees. Male hummingbirds like to perch on tall trees to watch for predators. Female hummingbirds often make their nests at least three feet off the ground, in the crotches of trees on the outside of a down-turned branch. Shrubs provide nectar sources, perches, and shelter. Hummingbirds appreciate an abundance of different flowers, from container-grown annuals to tall garden specimens.

  • Annuals - There are a variety of brightly colored annuals that attract hummingbirds. Fuschias are the first to come to mind, as well as Impatiens, Nicotiana, Canna, Cleome, Calibrachoa, Lantana, Browallia americana, and Verbena. Annual collections with bright Petunias or hanging Begonias are particularly effective for attracting hummingbirds. Annual vines include Mandevilla, Thunbergia, and Morning Glories.
  • Perennials - A list of favorite perennial plants would include Agastache , Alcea , Columbine (Aquilegia), Milkweed (Asclepias), Astilbe , Campanula, Delphinium , Foxglove (Digitalis), Heuchera (Coral Bells) , Hosta , Lobelia, Lupine, Bee Balm (Monarda) , Penstemon, Phlox , Salvia.
  • Trees, Shrubs, and Vines - Evergreen and deciduous trees form the framework for your garden landscape and provide nesting and perching locations for hummingbirds. In addition, (Dogwood) and Redbuds are seasonal nectar trees. Favorite shrubs include Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Elder (Sambucus) , Lilac (Syringa) , Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles), Rhododendron, and Viburnum . Hummingbirds are regular visitors to hardy vines such as Trumpet Creeper (Campsis) and Honeysuckles (Lonicera sempervirens).

Other Ways to Attract Hummingbirds

In addition to growing plants that they love, there are other ways to attract and keep Hummingbirds coming back to your garden. For example, hanging at least one hummingbird feeder filled with fresh nectar in a shady spot will assure there is always sustenance available to them, even when your flowers might not be blooming.

As you complete your hummingbird garden, keep in mind that these tiny birds appreciate water close by, so make sure to include a hummingbird-sized water source where they can bathe. An added benefit to having a hummingbird bath in your garden is it provides another opportunity to watch these fascinating creatures in action.

You can learn more about these amazing winged beauties by ordering our Hummingbird Kit which includes a beautifully illustrated field guide written by one of the country's leading ornithologists, David Allen Sibley. It includes details about 18 species, both common and rare, that are found throughout North America.

Interestingly, butterflies are attracted to many of the same flowers as hummingbirds, so you will probably end up enticing plenty of visitors from both species into your yard — what a glorious sight that will be on a hot summer day.

How to Plant the Hummingbird Annual Container Collection Video