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Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

My Picks for Attracting Hummingbirds With Plants

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Trumpet vines attract hummingbirds.

Trumpet vines attract hummingbirds but are difficult to control.

David Beaulieu

For those who enjoy both gardening and birdwatching, it is fortunate that there's such a plenitude of plants for attracting hummingbirds from which to choose. Bird watchers desirous of attracting hummingbirds with flowers dripping with nectar needn't sacrifice landscaping beauty at all. It is one of those happy coincidences in life: many of the plants adept at attracting our attention are also considered among the best flowers to attract hummingbirds, hungry for the food that they bear.

The variety of plants for attracting hummingbirds is so great that, in the process of building hummingbird gardens, you could also be building a landscape that will be the talk of the neighborhood. In selecting flowers to attract hummingbirds, you are not limited to using red flowers, although the color, red is notorious for attracting hummingbirds. In the following list of flowers commonly used for attracting hummingbirds, you'll see lots of red flowers, but also flowers in purple, white, orange, pink and blue. They're all rich in nectar, the hummingbird food par excellence.

Nor is the diversity of plants for attracting hummingbirds restricted to color. Annuals and perennials, vines, shrubs, trees, bedding plants and hanging plants: you can choose from all these categories in selecting flowers for attracting hummingbirds. The following are some criteria to consider when selecting plants (in addition to the obvious -- adeptness at attracting hummingbirds):

  • Diversity: to increase landscape design options, I have intentionally selected a variety of sizes, forms, etc.
  • Showiness of bloom.
  • Ease of planting and maintenance.
  • Color choices within the species.
  • Attractiveness of foliage.
  • Early or long blooming period.

10 Flowers Commonly Used for Attracting Hummingbirds:

  1. Bee Balm
  2. Red Columbine
  3. Delphinium and Hollyhock
  4. Butterfly Bush (invasive in some cases)
  5. Catawba Rhododendron
  6. Rose of Sharon
  7. Trumpet Vine and Japanese Honeysuckle (both, unfortunately, invasive)
  8. Cardinal Vine
  9. Lantana and Fuchsia
  10. Silk Tree (unfortunately, invasive)

Herbaceous Perennial Flowers for Attracting Hummingbirds

These 10 plants are not ranked in a competitive order, but rather are arranged in landscaping groups: i.e., according to how they are used on the landscape. We begin with three herbaceous plants appropriate for perennial flower beds. On Page 2 we take a closer look at the bushes and vines best for attracting hummingbirds. Page 3 will conclude with observations on two hanging plants and a tree appropriate for a hummingbird garden.

Long-blooming perennial, bee balm (Monarda didyma) is a fine choice for hardiness zones 4-9. This member of the Mint family blooms in red or light purple and likes soil that is slightly acidic.

Red columbine (Aquilegia canadense) is a perennial flower for zones 2-8 and an early bloomer, adept at attracting hummingbirds that are just beginning to return north from their winter homes.

Delphinium and hollyhock are two traditional favorites in perennial beds, both of which furnish hummingbirds with food. The value of these two plants in landscape design certainly derives in part from the heights that they reach. Some delphiniums can be grown in zones 2-9, and they often grow to be 5' tall or more. Hollyhocks (Alcea) often outgrow even the delphiniums and are hardy to zone 3. Technically biennials, hollyhocks self-seed so readily that they are usually treated as if they were perennials. Both delphiniums and hollyhocks come in a variety of colors and, due to their stately stature, are an excellent choice to form a back row in a tiered perennial bed.

On Page 2 we'll see that bushes and vines are also represented among the plants commonly used for attracting hummingbirds....

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