The Best Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds
Turn your yard into a hummingbird buffet by planting flowers they can’t resist.
Photo By: Used with permission. © 2016 Thomas Strich at HummingbirdPictures.net
Photo By: Julie Martens Forney
Photo By: Julie Martens Forney
Photo By: Mark Ragland
Photo By: PerennialResource.com
Photo By: PlantSelect.org
Photo By: Image courtesy of Blooms of Bressingham
Photo By: Eric Perry
Also known as beardtongue, penstemon has everything that makes for an ideal hummingbird flower: long, tubular blooms (the shape is hard for insects to sip nectar from but easy for hummingbirds), sweet nectar and a flower spike filled with lots of little blossoms. Penstemon grows best in sandy or gravelly soil with little fertilizer. Mulch with gravel, not bark, and let plants self-seed to ensure a healthy stand. Perennials, with varieties hardy from Zones 3-9.
While some gardeners think that the red tubular blooms of 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' fuchsia beckon hummingbirds best, these zippy birds find all fuchsias irresistible, including this variety, 'Swingtime.' To keep your fuchsia flowering like mad, give it full to part shade, consistent soil moisture and regular feeding throughout the growing season. Annual and perennial types, hardy in Zones 7-10.
This showstopper vine opens blooms that lure in hummingbirds. Coral or trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) offers many great varieties, including 'Dropmore Scarlet' (shown), 'Major Wheeler' and 'Alabama Crimson.' Do your homework before planting honeysuckle. Make sure the variety you choose isn’t invasive in your area (these varieties shouldn’t be). Perennial vine, hardy in Zones 4-9.
Also known as Oswego tea, bee balm (Monarda) brings season-long color to the garden. Look for varieties that open flowers in vibrant shades of red, pink, purple, maroon and pastel tones. Pinch bee balm early in the growing season, removing the growing tips on shoots. This encourages branching, which results in more flower buds. Perennial, hardy in Zones 3-9.
Also known as sage, the salvia clan is jammed with plants perfect for bringing hummers on the wing. From Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha, shown) to pineapple sage (S. elegans), autumn sage (S. greggii) and 'Black and Blue' sage (S. guaranitica)—each salvia brings spikes of nectar-laden flowers to the garden. Blooms open in many colors, including blue, red, lavender and white. You can fill a garden bed with sages that flower from early summer to first fall frost. Annual to perennial, hardy in Zones 5-11.
Red Hot Poker
It’s not hard to see where red hot poker (Kniphofia) gets its name. Those flaming torches boast blossoms packed with nectar that draws hummingbirds like crazy. Dagger-like leaves make a strong architectural statement in the garden. Look for varieties with flowers in shades of red, gold, lime and white. Good winter drainage is key for success with this perennial, hardy in Zones 5-9.
A summer bloomer, garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) offers hummingbirds a rich nectar source on plants that open large flower heads made up of lots of individual blossoms. Different varieties grow from short (under 12 inches) to stately (up to 36 inches) and open sweetly fragrant flowers in many shades, including pink, burgundy, lavender and white. This variety is 'Bright Eyes.' Full sun to part shade produces best flowering. Perennial, hardy in Zones 3-8.
The name on this one says it all--it’s definitely a plant-it-and-they-will-come scenario. Hummingbird mint (Agastache) includes an array of plants that grow well in desert or moist conditions. The trick is to find the right one for your region. Varieties open flowers in many different hues, including purple, gold, blue and orange. With all hummingbird mints, it’s best to leave stems in place through winter to help protect the plant crown or growing point. Clip stems in early spring 4 to 6 weeks before last frost. Perennial, hardy in Zones 5-9.
This flaming beauty is a cousin of gladiolus and grows from a bulb, sending lance-like leaves up to form a striking clump. Flowers dance along wiry stems, with one bloom opening each day. The variety ‘Lucifer’ is a hummingbird magnet with its fiery red flowers. Plant crocosmia bulbs in spring, giving them a spot in full sun for best flowering. Perennial, hardy in Zones 6-9; ‘Lucifer’ is hardy in Zones 5-9.
Native columbines (Aquilegia) open spurred flowers, typically showcasing two colors. Inside each spur lies a pool of sweet nectar, and a hummingbird’s tongue is just the right length to reach it. Blooms open in many colors, including red, purple and yellow. Give plants a spot in partial shade; let them self-seed to create drifts of color. Columbine blooms in late spring on the East Coast, just about the time migrating hummingbirds return. Perennial, hardy in Zones 3-9.