The hummingbird is a delightful garden visitor to observe. While many folks attract hummingbirds with a syrup-filled feeder, you should also consider using plants that offer nature’s nectar to lure these fun creatures to your garden.
The tubular flowers of flowering tobacco are the ideal shape for hummingbirds to gather nectar.
Photo Credit: Jesse Saylor
The bright colors and abundant flowers of these petunias are two key features that attract hummingbirds.
Photo Credit: Lane Greer
Hummingbirds feed on nectar to maintain their energetic lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Mark A. Miller
Plants that best attract hummingbirds have an abundance of brightly colored flowers. Though perennials are commonly recommended to entice hummingbirds, most perennials only bloom during a portion of the growing season. Most summer annuals bloom continuously, however, and many can keep hummingbirds buzzing through your garden all season long.
Keeping in mind that hummingbirds prefer flowers that are red, yellow and shades of bright pink (as opposed to white and pastel hues), here are a few easy-growing annuals you might want to try in your garden:
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) come in a variety of sizes and colors that hummingbirds are drawn to. These pretty bloomers need full sun and work well in planting beds and container gardens.
If you’re looking to grow annuals from seed, spider flower (Cleome hassleriana) produces numerous tall stems of large, showy flowers that attract hummingbirds. Seed packets usually come in mixed colors; the plants bloom all summer and are easy to grow.
The perfect porch plant to attract hummingbirds is fuchsia (Fuchsia). These bloomers prefer shade and produce beautiful variegated, pendulous flowers. They do need plenty of water and prefer morning sun to promote blooming. They may require a little more work than other annuals, but the magnificence of their flowers is truly worth it.
Very few shade-loving plants produce bright enough flowers to act as a beacon for hummingbirds. Impatiens (Impatiens) are an exception, with flowers that bloom in vibrant oranges, reds and bright pinks. Even a small number of plants can make a big impact in a colorless, shady area.
If you have the perfect place for a vine, consider the hummingbird vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) or nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Both are terrific annual vines that germinate easily from seed, grow rapidly and produce lots of flowers. Hummingbird vine has delicate fernlike foliage and red flowers, whereas nasturtium comes in an array of colors and has large, round leaves.
Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) is a drought-tolerant, sun-loving annual that sends up long stems with tubular flowers. The plant comes in several interesting colors, including red, lavender, maroon and yellow. As an added bonus, Nicotiana is extremely insect-resistant.
To add hummingbird appeal to a sunny porch or patio, try trailing petunias (Petunia) and calibrachoa (Calibrachoa). Both are perfect for hanging baskets. An abundance of funnel-shaped flowers in a multitude of colors are a wonderful way to invite hummingbirds near windows or sitting areas.
Certainly there are plenty of annuals that attract hummingbirds; these are just a few easy-to-grow suggestions based primarily on flower color and flower shape. Experiment with different blooms to see which ones the hummingbirds prefer in your garden – then watch your outdoor experience take new flight!