What are some of the Best Nector sources for Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds with a voracious appetite. These birds require a steady supply of food to satisfy their extremely high metabolism. A large percentage of their dietary requirements include nectar.  

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Nectar provides the necessary energy to these birds to fuel their long flights and energetic lives. This is why hummingbirds are always in search of nectar sources. 

By providing these birds with the best nectar sources, you can attract these flying jewels to your garden or backyard and enjoy their wonderful sight. 

Best Nectar sources for Hummingbirds

Flowers are the natural source of nectar to hummingbirds. Plants that produce flowers with plentiful nectar containing about 26 percent of sugar content are considered the most preferred nectar sources by hummingbirds.

Here is a list of some of the best flowers for hummingbird nectar:

1. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis

One of the most nectar-rich flowering plants, Cardinal Flower provides everything that these birds are looking for.

Their long stalks of flowers are about four feet tall that perfectly accommodate hummers’ long bills. The bright red color of the flowers never fails to attract the birds.

The blooming period of cardinal flowers is quite long. Thus, they can make a reliable source of nectar for hummingbirds for weeks.

These perennials are capable of self-seeding and may even cover a large part of your garden. 

The plants are adaptable to full sun or even dappled shade but require continuous moisture. The idle USDA growing zones for cardinal flowers are 3 to 9. 

Related Read: Why Do Hummingbirds Like Red? Can Hummingbirds See Other Color?

2. Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

A member of the Monarda genus of flowering plants, Bee Balm are the perennials that produce spherical flowers of bright colors such as red, purple, and pink.

The long spikes of the plant reach up to a height of about three to four feet.   

These pop-pom flowers offer blooms from late summer to autumn, providing lots of nectar to hummingbirds and other pollinators.

You can deadhead the plants if you want them to rebloom. To control the spreading of plants, you can dig and divide them.  

The plants thrive best in well-drained, moist soils in full sun. The USDA growing zones for bee balm vary from 4 to 9. 

3. Salvia (Salvia spp.)

Salvia is the largest genus of the mint family with several perennial and annual species. They are available in a wide range of hardy and tender varieties.

The tubular-shaped, bright-colored flowers of the plant provide a good source of food to the hovering birds.  

The blooms occur in mid-summer and keep on blooming till the end of the season. If they are provided with well-drained soil and adequate exposure to the sun, the perennials will continue to bloom repeatedly.  

The stalks of the plant grow around 17 to 35 inches. Salvia is extremely easy to grow as they do not need any division or additional care. The plants even increase steadily in size with time. 

4. Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)

One of the members of the sunflower family, zinnia are the plants with brightly colored flowers that attract hummingbirds easily and provide them with rich nectar.

Zinnia Elegans is one of the most popular species for hummingbirds. 

The plant grows up to a height of about six inches, but some may even become 4 feet tall. The flowers of zinnia are available in almost every color.

Once hummingbirds have a sip of their nectar, they keep on coming back to fill their appetite. 

These annuals thrive in moist, humusy, and well-drained soil. Avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases that might occur in moist soil.

Another thing to remember while planting zinnia is that the plants need plenty of space for air circulation. 

5. Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

One of the first go-to plants for hummingbirds, Coral honeysuckle produces red, tubular flowers that have abundant nectar in them. Many birders believe that they are the favorite destination of nectar for hummingbirds. 

This semi-evergreen woody vine can grow up to a height of 20 feet if stable support is provided to them for climbing. If you do not want them to be so tall, you can control their growth by pruning. 

The flowers bloom best in full sun. Once the flowering reaches its last stage, the red berries get produced that provide food to many bird species. 

6.  Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)

With more than 60 to 70 species of perennials, Aquilegia is a large genus contributing to providing a good nectar source to hummingbirds.

These species develop many hybrids and cultivars. These plants work as edging plants around flower beds and fenced-in gardens.

The blooms are available in many different shades. Their tubular structure allows hummingbirds to easily fill up their beaks with nectar. Columbine can even grow well in average soil, hence they are too easy to grow. 

The plant is capable of self-sowing and keeping deer and rabbits away. These spring-blooming plants provide food to the hovering birds returning from foreign sites to eastern breeding grounds. 

Do hummingbirds prefer homemade nectar?

Hummingbirds prefer homemade nectar if they find it similar to what they found in flowers.

With the right composition of sugar and water, the homemade nectar can easily replace the other sources of the nectar of the hovering birds. 

Once the birds taste the liquid and find it suitable, they keep on coming back to fulfill their nectar requirement. 

The reason why birds come repeatedly to feed on homemade nectar is that they do not need to struggle anymore to find the nectar-rich flowers. They just have to fly to a single destination where they would find as much nectar as they need. 

Even for birders, it is extremely easy to prepare homemade nectar for hummingbirds. By keeping feeders filled with homemade nectar, they can easily attract the birds in their backyard or garden.

Related Read: Do Hummingbirds Get Diabetes From Too Much Sugar Water? 

Related Read: How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders? | Will Birds Come To A Bird Feeder?

What is the best nectar to buy for hummingbirds?

With several products in the market, it is quite a task to find out the best nectar for hummingbirds. You need to do some homework to make sure that you are buying a safe, healthy, and quality product. 

Here are some of the pointers that you should consider before buying the nectar for your hummingbirds.

  • The nectar should use such a formula that it imitates the natural nectar in the best way and provides wholesome nutrients to hummingbirds.
  • Make sure that the nectar does not contain any harmful additives like artificial dyes to give a bright red color to the nectar.
  • The nectar should not contain many preservatives as the nectar should remain as natural as possible. 
  • Electrolytes are another thing that is not so necessary in nectar. 

The commercial nectar product comes in different forms such as pre-made, powder mixes, and liquid concentrates. The pre-made nectar or liquid concentrated nectar can be used directly.

On the other hand, powders need a little more effort but they also allow you to have control over how you want the nectar for your birds.

Select the one that is suited best for your and hummingbird’s feeder setup. 


The best nectar sources for hummingbirds are the flowering plants that are rich in nectar. But this does not mean that an artificial setup of feeders having homemade or commercial nectar will get ignored by the birds.