Native plants for hummingbirds


Hummingbirds are agility, speed, and fearlessness, all bundled into a 3-inch (8 cm) package wrapped in iridescent colors! Want to draw these entertaining cuties to your yard? Then charm them with nectar plants they love.

You’ll enjoy their aerial performances while also giving them a chance to rest—contradictory as it sounds. That’s because they generally expend enormous amounts of energy in their daily search for food, so when you provide them with a convenient spread of nectar plants all laid out in one place, they can go right to it, drink some satisfying nectar, and fly to a nearby spot to sit and relax. Watch their path when they fly to and from your garden to see where they go so that you can get a good look at them while they’re sitting still (tip: have binoculars at hand).

Did you know that hummingbirds serve a higher purpose than just entertainment for us? That’s because their movement among plants spreads pollen from flower to flower. (There are more than 135 native plant species in the world that rely exclusively on these tiny beings for cross-pollination and will cease to exist without them.

A few places in the U.S. see hummingbirds all the time because some species live there year-round. Many of us are limited to seeing them primarily during their spring and fall migrations north and south. So, be ready for them! America’s long-distance hummingbirds

Go bright!

Hummingbirds are most drawn to bright colors, especially red. Plant your flowers in masses of the same color—a single red plant here and a single yellow there won’t scream “come to me” to a tiny bird passing overhead. (You’ll discover it’s more appealing to the human eye, as well).

Plant several varieties and include species that flower at differing times, so a group of something is always in bloom. If you decide to include some hybridized plants, select single-bloom varieties, as hummingbirds prefer them over double-blooms. Slow-motion video of how hummingbirds “sip” nectar.     

Common nameTypeLatin nameBloomsZone
BeebalmPMonarda didymaMS–F4–7
Blue FlagPIris versicolorES5–9
California FuchsiaPEpilobium canumMS–EF5–9
Canada Lily (plant bulbs only)PLilium canadenseMS–EF3–9
Cardinal FlowerPLobelia cardinalisLS–EF3–9
Coral BellsPHeuchera sanguineaMS4–9
Coral HoneysuckleShrubLonicera sempervirensS–F4–9
Currant (Golden, Red, Black)ShrubRibes spp.MSp3–8
Fire PinkPSilene virginicaMSp4–8
Garden PhloxPPhlox paniculataMS–EF4–8
Great Blue LobeliaPLobelia siphiliticaES–EF3–9
Indian Blanket (Blanket Flower)AGaillardia pulchellaMS–MF3-10
Indian PinkPSpigelia marilandicaLSp–ES5–9
Lemon HorsemintA, BMonarda citriodoraLSp–MS2–12
Milkweed (Common, Marsh, Butterfly, etal)PAsclepias spp.S–F2–9
MonkeyflowerPMimulus cardinalisMSp–MS6–9
Mountain RosebayShrubRhododendron catawbienseSp4–8
NasturtiumATropaeolum majusMS–EF1–13, incl. Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico
PhloxA, PPhlox spp.MS–F3–8
Purple BeardtonguePPenstemon cobaeaMSp–ES3–8
Red BuckeyeShrubAesculus paviaESp–ES5–9
Red ColumbinePAquilegia canadensisLSp3–8
Red IrisPIris fulvaESp–LSp5–11
Red ThistleBCirsium occidentaleSp2–9
Rose VerbenaPGlandularia canadensisLS–EF6–9
Royal CatchflyPSilene regiaMS–EF4–8
Scarlet Bugler PenstemonPPenstemon centranthifoliusMS3–8
Scarlet MonkeyflowerPMimulus cardinalisMSp–EF6–9
Scarlet SageA, PSalvia coccineaMS4–10
Southern Blue Flag IrisAIris virginicaSp5–9
Spiked GayfeatherPLiatris spicataMS3–10
Spotted JewelweedAImpatiens capensisMS–EF4–10
Trumpet VineP, VineCampsis radicansES–MF4–9
Wild BergamotPMonarda fistulosaMS3–9
Wild LupinePLupinus perennisSp–ES3–9
Wild PetuniaARuellia caroliniensisES–LF3–8
Yellow HoneysuckleP, VineLonicera flavaLSp-ES4–9

*Top photo: Allen’s Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin. (Dawn Beattie / Flickr; cc by 2.0 )

More reading:

Hummingbird nectar recipe   
Explore an insect-friendly yard   
Types of bird feeders   

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