How to Make Hummingbird Nectar

This easy and inexpensive hummingbird food recipe will have these beloved pollinators making return visits to your garden.

May 07, 2021

Hummingbird lovers are undoubtedly fond of the whizzing sound these beautiful small birds make as they zip around. But did you know you can make your own hummingbird food to bring even more to your backyard?

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird with Penstemon

Anna’s hummingbird visiting a native penstemon bloom.

Photo by: Used with permission. © 2016 Thomas Strich at

Used with permission. © 2016 Thomas Strich at

This super simple, cost-effective nectar recipe will keep your backyard friends happily humming, and you can skip a trip to the store.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe


  • 1 cup regular white cane sugar; do not substitute honey or other sweeteners for sugar.
  • 4 cups water — most tap water is fine, but spring water is best.
  • NOTE: Do not add red food coloring, it's unnecessary and possibly not healthy for hummers.


  • Make water just hot enough to dissolve sugar, but not boiling.
  • Turn off heat and add sugar to the water.
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved completely (liquid should be clear).
  • When the solution is done, let it cool, then fill your clean bird feeder.

Hummingbird Food Storage and Feeder Cleaning

  • Store leftover solution in the refrigerator for up to 10 days until it's ready to use.
  • The nectar will go bad fairly quickly, so be sure to clean out and refill your feeder every 3-5 days (possibly more often in very hot weather) to prevent bacteria from building up in the sugary solution.

8 Best Hummingbird Feeders + Accessories for Your Yard

Welcome the tiniest of feathered friends with these top-rated feeders and accessories.

And some answers to a few other frequent questions about homemade hummingbird food:

Placing Your Hummingbird Feeder

The homemade hummingbird food will ferment quickly in the hot sun, so be sure to locate the feeder in a shady spot — one that doesn't hang in the direct sun all day. Place the feeder where you can easily observe hummingbirds from a distance, such as from the kitchen table. Another tip: Place the feeder near plants in your garden that attract hummingbirds.

More Tips

Where to Put a Hummingbird Feeder

Get tips on attracting hummingbirds with a hummingbird feeder and how to avoid the common problems with hummingbird feeders.

When Do I Put Out My Hummingbird Feeder?

The best time of year to hang your hummingbird feeder is during the hummingbirds' migration north, when they are looking for nectar sources such as flowers. Timing for when to put out a hummingbird feeder will depend a bit on where you live (later in the northern U.S.), but aim to put feeders up by mid-March. You can leave your feeders out until the start of October.

It's really as easy as that! Now get out there and enjoy watching your winged friends eat.

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