Despite being small, hummingbirds are one of the prettiest and most unique birds to fly around and grace your garden or backyard.
With some unique features, these ‘jewel birds’ add plenty of life and spark to your garden. But flowers are a must-have to get these dainty birds to visit your garden.
Why and what type of flowers? Here, we unravel everything that is there to know about hummingbirds and flowers. Read on!
Hummingbirds and Flowers/Do Hummingbirds like Flowers?
Hummingbirds are fascinating for their beauty as well as aerobatics. Their non-stop and extremely fast movement of about 80 wings beat per second creates a high-energy need that is fulfilled by the nectar of flowers.
The high sugar content in nectar serves as the perfect fuel. Hence, it’s a no-brainer that hummingbirds are attracted to flowers.
Factors That Make a Flower Attractive/Non-Attractive to Hummingbirds
There are about 400,000 flowering plants in the world. But hummingbirds do not like each and every flower. The factors that decide if a flower would appeal to a hummingbird are:
- Not all flowers produce nectar. Hence, flowers that do not provide food or nectar to these nectivorous birds will not attract them.
- Hummingbirds have specialized, needle-like bills that help them effectively probe deeper into elongated, tubular-shaped flowers to suck out the nectar. Hence, flowers with tubular shapes are most attractive to these hungry hummers. They are not much attracted to other flower shapes like puffs, bowls, saucers, lips, etc.
- Hummingbirds lack a keen sense of smell, but they have good eye-sight. Hence, they rely on their sight to spot flowers with nectars. Given that, they are most attracted to brightly colored flowers, especially the red color to nail as their food source. Dull and neutral-colored flowers do not hold any appeal for them.
- Hummingbirds barely keep still. Even while feeding, they tend to hover. Hence, they love flowers that provide a good space to hover. Dense and compact-spaced flowers are not attractive to them.
- The flower’s bloom time also decides if that particular flower would be attractive to hummingbirds. For instance, few flowers that bloom early at just the start of spring in the northern regions are well matured and ready to fall by the time hummingbirds return from their winter ranges. With little to no nectar, they are not attractive to these hungry hummers.
- Likewise, many flowers bloom after the hummingbirds have left for their winter migration. They, too, would not attract these birds. Hummingbirds are only attracted to those flowers that have bloomed and are nectar-rich while they reside in the area.
- Hummingbirds are also wary of non-native and hybrid flowers as they are non-recognizable and alien to them. Even if a hybrid flower has the required color and shape, it may not have enough nectar and thus, hold little interest for them. These flying jewels prefer native plants that thrive easily with minimal care.
- It is often noticed that hummingbirds are initially attracted to a flower but later do not like them. Most of the time, these flowers are an invasive and exotic variety. They tend to crowd out other flowering plants that are more beneficial to hummingbirds and eventually destroy them.
Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds
Now, let’s walk through a list of a few flowers that attract hummingbirds the most. We would segregate them further to help you choose the best ones for your backyard or garden to attract these hungry hummers.
Annual Flowers for Hummingbirds
An inexpensive and highly popular plant with almost every gardener, these large trumpet-shaped blooms offer a filling and delicious meal to the hummingbirds.
Available in both single and double-flowered forms, petunias are available in many colors like black, white, blue, etc. They can be speckled, spotted, or even striped.
Needing full sun and medium-moisture well-drained soil, they are a favorite plant for containers, hanging baskets, etc., and even any location of the garden. They repeatedly bloom, thereby yielding a significant supply of nectar for the hungry hummers.
An easy-to-grow plant even from seeds, these bright blooms offer sufficient nectar for hummingbirds to have their fill. Available in almost every hue except brown and blue, their bright varieties appeal more to hummingbirds.
These flowers need full sun and moist, humusy, well-drained soil; they also make wonderful cut flowers. They should be planted with sufficient space to avoid overcrowding and overhead watering as well as to encourage air circulation.
Popular as Million Bells or Superbells, these vibrant flowers are in single and double flower forms and are available in all rainbow colors. Its compact and trailing varieties are most attractive to hummingbirds.
Requiring at least six hours of full sun and well-drained soil, they can be planted in containers, pots, and raised beds.
This bright yellow-colored petaled flower, with its dark center of numerous teeny-tubular-shaped flowers, loaded with nectar, is highly attractive to hummingbirds. They naturally flock to them.
Other annual flowers that attract hummingbirds immensely are:
- Flowering tobacco
- Mexican sunflower
- Lantana, etc.
Perennial Flowers for Hummingbirds
Offering a high nectar count, these blooms are available in both hardy and tender varieties with plenty of color options like shades of pink, blue, purple, etc. Easy to plant and grow, they are super-attractive to our flying jewels.
- Bee Balm
The red shade of this perennial pom-pom flower is a hit amongst hummingbirds though its newer varieties of pink, purple, and violet also pass with flying colors. These nectar-rich blooms grow well in full sun, moist soil, and plenty of air circulation. The plant may also self-sow.
Hibiscus flowers offer the best of both worlds to hummingbirds. Foremost, their red color hugely appeals to the flying jewels.
Next, their tubular shape makes them ideal for hummingbirds to get their fill of nectar. Growing well in rich, moist soil and full sun, these can be grown in containers as well as garden beds.
- Cardinal Flower
Belonging to the Lobelia genus, the plant produces long stalks of flowers in a rich red hue. Their delicate shape, abundant nectar, and red hue make them highly popular among hummingbirds. Needing full sun to part shade, they thrive in rich and well-watered soil. They grow best when placed at the rear of mixed perennial beds.
A few other perennial flowers that are a huge hit amongst hummingbirds are:
- Bleeding heart
- Trumpet vine
- Canada lily
- Anise hyssop or hummingbird mint
- Garden phlox
- Gayfeather or Blazingstar
- Lavender, etc.
Bushes and Vines That Attract Hummingbirds
This shrub plant flaunts flowers from palest pink to true red, while its foliage can be green, variegated, gold, or rich plum.
This drought-tolerant plant thrives well in full sun and average soil and requires little maintenance. Hummingbirds love its nectar and space to hover around.
- Hardy Fuchsia
This flowering shrub is frost-hardy. Its bold splash of colored flowers with golden foliage is a natural attraction for hummingbirds. It is also a gardener’s delight as it needs very little maintenance.
- Flowering Quince
The shrub can also be considered a container plant. Flowering in early spring, they make a bold statement, with each of its branches flaunting clusters of small rose-like blossoms.
The flower color can vary from pale pink to the deepest of crimson. The plant can easily grow in various soil types and show great tolerance to heat and dry conditions.
- Hyacinth Bean Vine
This vine plant with fragrant blooms is a treat for both eyes and nose. The purple pods bloom into pink, white, or purple-pink flowers that are rich in nectar.
Moreover, the blooms last the full season and keep the hummingbirds hooked. This annual plant grows well in full to partial sun, is drought-tolerant, and tends to reseed to keep the garden vibrant.
Few other vines and bushes that attract hummingbirds are:
- Trumpet vine
- Purple passionflower
- Candy corn plant
- Canary creeper
- Scarlet runner bean
- Cup and saucer vine
- Trumpet honeysuckle
- Oregon Grape
- Flowering currant
- Yellow bells, esperanza
- Cypress vine, etc.
Potted Flowers for Hummingbirds
A garden space may not be possible for every hummingbird lover. But many flowers mentioned above and a few others can easily thrive in pots and containers also and attract hummingbirds. A few noteworthy potted plants include:
- Flowering tobacco
- Cigar plant
- Wishbone flowers, etc.
Which Flowers do Hummingbirds Not Like?
Finally, let’s walk through some popular garden blooms that make interesting landscapes but fail to attract despite their bright blooms because of insufficient nectar. A few noteworthy ones include:
- Sweet peas
- Lily of the valley
- Oriental lilies
- Lilacs, etc.
However, these flowers still prove useful. They might not offer nectar to hummingbirds, but they make excellent perches for hummingbirds to rest and survey the territory for nectar-rich flowers.
They also shield the bird and protect them from falling prey to predators.
A few of these flowers form an excellent territory for hummingbirds to scout for insect foods that constitute the essential protein component of their diet.
Related Read: Homing Pigeon Facts – Top Interesting and Little Known
Hummingbirds are touted to visit about 1,000 flowers every day to lap up nectar and satiate their voracious appetites.
Hence, variety and enough blooms keep these hummingbirds hooked to the garden.
Furthermore, to meet their needs, hummingbirds’ feeders with artificial nectar help to meet their needs with flying colors.