Hummingbirds are a treat for both experts as well as amateur bird watchers. Their tiny size and speedy wings make these birds one of the fascinating creatures in the wild.
Many birders set up hummingbird feeders in their backyards and gardens, either to observe and understand their behavior or to help them get through the bitter winter months.
Here are 10 plants that can attract hummingbirds to your yard:
- Trumpet Vines
- Bee Balm
- The Red Cardinal Flower
- Million Bells
- Impatient Lucy
- The Cigar Flower
With a few changes in your backyard, you can ensure that the hummingbirds have a much more comfortable time there. Growing specific plants that are well-liked by these hummers is one such change.
But how would you know which plants are these? That’s what we are going to talk about in this article.
Growing plants to attract hummingbirds: things to remember
If you are still reading, it must mean that you have decided to grow some unique plants that can attract hummingbirds to your backyard.
However, there are certain factors you must keep in mind while selecting the plants, or it might become a bit of an inconvenience for you. Don’t worry; below, we’ve listed some of these factors for you. Take a look:
- You should create diversity in the heights and shapes of the plants that you grow in your yard. It would add to the options for landscape designs and help you if you were to have any specific ideas.
- The flashiness of the blooms is another major factor to consider for the flowering plants. It would both affect the aesthetic of your backyard and the frequency and amount of hummingbird visits.
- If you are an amateur gardener, you should try to stick with low-maintenance plants which are easy to grow and maintain.
- A majority of hummingbird species are migratory in nature. If you don’t want to miss their arrival because your flower’s blooming period differs from their migration period, pick the plants in sync with their schedule.
Perennial plants will attract hummingbirds to your backyard.
1. Trumpet Vines (Campsis Radicans)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 to 9
Mature Size: Can grow up to 40 feet high
Blooming Period: July to September
If you are looking to attract hummingbirds, the Trumpet Vines might be just the plant you are looking for. These plants are also known as the “Hummingbird Vine,” which explains how popular they are among these birds.
The main reason behind their popularity among the hummers is the long, tubular structure of their flowers, filled with nectar to the brim.
Although native to the southeast United States, Trumpet Vines can grow pretty much everywhere else in the country. The single downside of these vines is that they are very high-maintenance.
They can grow massive within a short time so that they might cover the entire area of your yard. Sometimes, these vines can get so huge that birds build their nests in their dense foliage.
These vines are considered to be too aggressive for many gardeners, which is why we recommend you not to grow them unless you want them to pop up all over your place.
Trumpet Vines can grow in both direct sunlight as well as in partial shade. It takes these vines about a year or two after planting to grow large, bright flowers.
2. Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 to 9
Mature Size: 3 to 4 feet tall, 3 feet wide (measurements may vary depending on the species).
Blooming Period: July to September
Also referred to as “Monarda,” “Horsemint,” “Oswego Tea,” and “Bergamot,” Bee Balm is an herbaceous plant that is slightly smaller than most other perennial flowers. It is endemic to eastern North America and Pacific Northwest.
About 50 species of these beautiful plants are commercially available in greenhouses and plant stores in these regions.
Bee Balm is a very convenient choice for the hummers because it is easy to grow, deer-resistant, and drought-resistant. Additionally, its uniquely shaped blooms can make any dull flower bed seem more appealing.
Another interesting fact about Bee Balm is that butterflies and bees are also drawn to the nectar of its flowers besides hummingbirds.
Pro-tip: Remember to check the hardiness zone because some of its species are mildew resistant, and others might be better suited to the climate in your locality.
3.The Red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 to 9
Mature Size: 3 feet tall
Blooming Period: Mid to late summer
The Red Cardinal Flower is just the addition you need to make in your backyard if you wish to attract hummingbirds. It is native to the 48 lower states of the United States and eastern Canada, which is impressive and convenient for you.
The flowers of these plants are just ravishing when they bloom, showcasing the bright red tubular flowers. There are many different-colored species of these plants, including pink, dark red, and white blooms; all of these varieties attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Unlike Bee Balms, Red Cardinals can only attract hummingbirds and not the other nectarivore birds. Wondering why? It is because no other bird can extract nectar from these tube-like flowers.
Pro-tip: Red Cardinals grow best in areas with high moisture, so avoid planting them under direct sunlight.
4. Sage (Salvia Officinalis)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 to 10
Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall
Blooming Period: Early to mid-summer
Sage is the common name for any plant that belongs to the Salvia genus. You see, there are hundreds of Sage plant species in the world, and most of them work splendidly in the gardens and backyards around the United States.
Therefore, it can be difficult for us to give you specifications about the sage flower that might work best in your yard.
However, we will be talking about the Common Sage here. Common Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is the most common sage species which is native to the Mediterranean.
However, because of the popularity of this plant in the United States, it is considered neutralized in North America.
Sage is a versatile plant that has many advantages and almost no inconveniences. Its flowers will look beautiful in your backyard and will also attract bees and butterflies besides hummingbirds.
The plant itself is easy to grow and has beneficial culinary uses for you (in the form of sage tea).
Sage grows best under direct sunlight with well-drained soil. Although it is drought-resistant and can tolerate poor soil fertility better than most plants, the Sage will produce better flowers when watered consistently.
5. Rhododendron (Rhododendron Catawbiense)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 to 8
Mature Size: 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide if not pruned.
Blooming Period: Spring
Rhododendrons are sturdy plants with exquisite blooms that are often purple in color. However, pink, yellow, red, white, and orange flowers are also a common sight. Rhododendrons are one of the most popular plants in any plant nursery.
There are thousands of rhododendron species, with the majority of them originating from Asia. Today, we will talk about the species which has the scientific name of Rhododendron catawbiense.
This species is known by many different names, such as “Catawba Rosebay,” “Catawba Rhododendron,” “Mountain Rosebay,” Purple Ivy, Purple Laurel, Purple Rhododendron, Red Laurel, Rosebay Laurel, or Rosebay.
Although it is native to North America, its vines can be found as far as the Appalachian Mountains.
It has beautiful, dark-green foliage all year round, and the hummingbirds love the alluring pink blooms each May. The plant itself is quite sturdy and can easily withstand harsh winter temperatures.
6. Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinesis)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4 to 11
Mature Size: 15 feet tall
Blooming Period: Early summer
If you decide on a landscape design, the Hibiscus can be a worthwhile addition to your list. Depending on growing conditions, these tropical plants can be displayed as a tree or a shrub.
The dark green foliage of these plants can also be used as an aesthetic backdrop for your backyard. Lastly, the large and vibrantly colored Hibiscus blooms are great at attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Aside from your backyard, these plants can be very beneficial to you from a health perspective in the form of Hibiscus tea. Studies have proven that drinking as little as 2-3 cups of this tea can help lower your blood pressure.
These versatile plants are native to warm-temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions throughout the world. Warm weather (direct sun) and thorough watering are their only environmental requirements, aside from pruning as per your needs.
Annual plants that will attract hummingbirds to your backyard
1. Petunia (Atkinsiana)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 9 to11
Mature Size: 3-8 feet tall, 1-4 feet wide
Blooming Period: Spring, summer, fall
If you are looking for a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plant, the Petunia plants are just the right pick for you. These plants do not need too much space and can easily grow in containers, borders, and baskets.
Besides their versatility, they come in various colors, including pink, white, red, purple, blue, and other mixed hues. And, of course, these birds can attract a large number of hummingbirds to your backyard.
Native to Argentina, these plants thrive in a full sun where it repeatedly blooms, attracting increasingly more hummingbirds.
2. Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 9 to 11
Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, 12-24 inches wide.
Bloom Period: Spring to fall
If you are a landscaping enthusiast, you must’ve seen Million Bells at least once. These plants have a trailing habit, which is why they are usually grown in containers and hanging baskets, from where they spill down gracefully in a dense trail.
The blooms of Million Bells are approximately 1 inch wide, and most of them sport colorful throats that contrast with their primary petal color.
Their leaves are bright green, oval, and compact. They are available in various colors, such as white, bronze, blue, yellow, pink, magenta, red, and violet.
These plants also attract hummingbirds and butterflies to their brightly colored blooms. Direct sunlight and rich, moist soil is the key to the proper growth of this plant.
3. Impatient Lucy (Impatiens walleriana)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 10-11
Mature size: 8-12 inches long
Blooming Period: Spring to fall
Impatient Lucy is another plant that attracts hummingbirds to itself.
This plant is native to India and Myanmar. Since it can grow perfectly well in the shade, it will attract hummingbirds to your backyard even if you have a small space or less sunlight.
This plant grows in different hues, including red, pink, purple, coral, white, and violet.
4. The Cigar Flower (Cuphea Ignea)
USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4-8
Mature Size: approximately 2-3 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide
Blooming Period: Spring to fall
The Cigar Flowers are named after their orange and red blooms that closely resemble the lit-end of a cigar.
Since these plants bloom all year round, you can rest assured that there will always be hummingbirds in your backyard because they are attracted to their vibrant hues.
These beautiful plants will grow best directly under the sun but can also fare well in partial shade. They also prefer well-drained, enriched soil.
Although they can handle some dry spells, the Cigar Flower should be fertilized and well-watered for maximum growth and development.
How to create the perfect backyard for hummingbirds?
Now that we have covered the plants, what about your backyard itself? Is it the perfect backyard, or can you make it more hummingbird-friendly?
Read on to find the answers to all of these questions and some tips which might help you in doing so:
- Vines, flowering shrubs, herbs, and small (dwarf) trees can all be used to make just the perfect habitat for hummingbirds from ground level to 12 feet or more.
- Remember, these birds do not have a sharp sense of smell; they mostly depend on their eyesight while looking for food. They are particularly fond of brightly red-colored objects, so growing plants with red blossoms can be an effective strategy.
- As you might already know, these birds hover in place and will need some area to navigate between the plants. So, remember to leave plenty of room between the seeds.
- Hummingbirds are one of those birds that love water, especially if it’s moving. If there is a gentle, continuous spray of water from a sprinkler hose or nozzle in your backyard, these birds will surely be frequent visitors there.
Frequently asked questions
Do hummingbirds molt?
Molting is the process in which birds shed their old feathers, which new ones then replace. Just like any other bird species, hummingbirds undergo molting as well. They usually go through molting in the mid-summer, right before their migration in the fall.
Do hummingbirds have legs?
Yes, they do. However, these birdies cannot walk or hop despite having legs because their foot length ratio is asymmetric and cannot support proper walking. This is why they spend a large part of their lifetime flying.
Are hummingbirds attracted to flowers by their smell?
No, they are not. Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell and are instead drawn to flowers by their vibrant colors. Besides, most of the flowering plants that hummingbirds love lack a significant fragrance.
Conclusion: Plants that attract hummingbirds to your yard
In this article, we have learned that while setting up hummingbird feeders is a great way to attract them, it cannot guarantee their frequent visits to your yard. Many birders have put out similar feeders, so you might need to walk an extra mile if you’re eager to lure these birdies into yours.
Hummingbirds are nectarivores that are drawn to bright, colorful flowers. Therefore, planting these flowering plants in your yard can increase the likelihood of visiting your yard considerably.
If you go through this article carefully, you will get a good idea of which plants are their favorite and are more likely to attract them.