How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Photo of a Hummingbird on Annual Salvia by Wasco Nursery

Hummingbirds are one of our favorite creatures to see in the garden. These marvels of flight burn thousands of calories per day to keep up with their metabolism. With that, comes the need for reliable food sources. They need to refuel every ten minutes to keep up their health. They spend all day visiting all types of flowers to load up on nectar and keep their calorie counts high. Here’s some tips to attract hummingbirds:

  1. They are attracted to red plants but don’t feed exclusively on red plants – they love just about any brightly colored flower and will test just about anything to see if they like it.
  2. Hummingbirds are skittish little creatures that like to feed in peace – locate their feeders and their favorite plants away from bustling areas in your garden. They will get used to you and feed nearby if you are quiet, but they will swish off if startled.
  3. Keep feeders clean – Replace your sugar solution weekly and do not add red food coloring. They like plain old water and sugar just fine.
  4. Make sure your feeders have an ‘ant moat’ around the top to keep ants and other insects out of the feeder. Do not spray your feeder with oils, gels, or vaseline to keep ants away, as those can get on the wings of the birds and cause issues with flight. Ant moats can be found online or in bird stores and are just a few dollars.
  5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different plants- usually hummingbirds are attracted to tubular flowers like hosta, bee balm, honeysuckle vine, salvia, etc. but they also like zinnia, coneflower, and even evergreens as there are tiny beads of sap as well as little insects on and around needles of evergreens.
  6. The saying goes: If you build it they will come. And that is true of any wildlife. Adding pollinator and bird friendly plant material to your yard will attract wildlife. Just make sure you don’t just plant one thing and expect hoards of visitors. Diversify your garden and plant for all seasons and you’ll be amazed at how soon your yard fills with birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and more!

Looking for some of their favorite nectar sources? Here are a few of our top plants to attract hummingbirds:

Hummingbird Attracting Perennials / Shrubs for Sun (5+ hours):

  • Beard tongue (Penstemon) – Summer / Fall
  • Bee balm (Monarda) – Early Summer
  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia) – Summer / Fall
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) – Summer / Fall
  • Catmint (Nepeta) – Summer / Fall
  • Clove pink (Dianthus) – Spring
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis) – Summer
  • Desert candle (Yucca) – Early Summer
  • Iris (Iris) – Spring
  • Larkspur (Delphinium) – Early Summer
  • Lily (Lilium) – Summer
  • Lupine (Lupinus) – Spring
  • Pincushion flower (Scabiosa) – Summer / Fall
  • Red-hot poker (Kniphofia) – Summer
  • Royal Catchfly (Silene regia) – Summer
  • Sage (Salvia) – Spring / Summer / Fall
  • Seven Sun Flower (Heptacodium miconioides) – Fall
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) – Spring / Summer
  • Hummingbird Mint (Agastache) – Summer
  • Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – Summer
  • Weigela (Weigela) – Spring

Hummingbird Attracting Perennials / Shrubs for Part Sun (3-5 hours):

  • Bee balm (Monarda) – Early Summer
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) – Spring
  • Coral bells (Heuchera) – Summer
  • Foxglove (Digitalis) – Spring
  • Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – Summer
  • Hosta (Hosta) – Summer

Hummingbird Attracting Annuals:

  • Cigar Plant (Cuphea)
  • Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana)
  • Pentas (Pentas)
  • Petunia (Petunia)
  • Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
  • Spider Flower (Cleome)
  • Verbena (Verbena)
  • Zinnea (Zinnea elegans)