12 Plants That Will Attract Hummingbirds to a Garden

12 Plants That Will Attract Hummingbirds to a Garden

Hummingbirds are incredibly small birds with beautiful, jewel-toned feathers and long beaks. These fascinating birds belong to the family Trochilidae, with their closest relatives being swifts. Most hummingbirds weigh between 2 to 20 grams, with the bee hummingbird of Cuba weighing only 1.5 grams, making it the smallest known bird species. 

Hummingbirds are stunning to have around and, fortunately, easy to attract to a garden with plants. In this article, we’re sharing the top 12 plants that will attract hummingbirds to a garden so that you can enjoy watching these fascinating, intense birds within your backyard. 

12 Plants That Will Attract Hummingbirds to a Garden

Bee Balm

Bee balms are native to North America and are part of the same family as the popular herb mint. These red, orange, pink, white, and purple flowers are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees due to their bright looks. This perennial plant’s full flower spikes and sphere shake give it a unique appearance favorable to human eyes. 

You can expect bee balms to grow between 2-4 feet tall. Bee balms will continue to seed and spread throughout your garden until the flowers become deadheaded, making them easy to cultivate. Plant these in fairly moist soil in an area with plenty of circulation because bee balms can be afflicted with mildew easily. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to nine
  • Color Varieties: Primarily red, but sometimes comes in orange, pink, white, and purple colors
  • Blooms: Summer to fall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade or full sun
  • Soil Needs: Nutrient-rich soil with a medium moisture content

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding hearts are gorgeous perennial plants that add color to any garden. Their dangling heart-shaped blooms give them their iconic name. The flowers even come in pink, red, and white to match their heart theme. 

Plant bleeding hearts in partially shaded areas with moist soil and, ideally, in cooler climates. Unfortunately, bleeding hearts can wither and die from the intense summer heat, but they will return each spring anew. You can expect these flowers to grow between 24 and 36 inches tall. Bleeding hearts can also grow as wide as 2 feet, making them a “shrub-like” flower. This flowering shrub can be divided as it grows for transplanting. Be wary of root rot with these plants and ensure that the soil is moist but well-drained.

  • USDA Growing Zones: Two to nine
  • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white
  • Blooms: Early spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained but moist, rich soil

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal flowers are stunning flowering plants from the Lobelia genus. These flowers boast long flower stalks with delicate, tube-shaped blooms, which hummingbirds love. Hummingbirds are the primary pollinator of this North American plant, so you can expect to have many hummingbirds fluttering around your backyard if you choose to plant cardinal flowers. 

However, the cardinal flower does not have a long life. They are short-lived perennial flowers, but they reseed extensively and bloom each summer, often permanently establishing themselves in the garden. Plant these forest-loving flowers in areas with some shade and moist soil for the best results. Mulch is recommended to help these flowers thrive. You can expect these flowers to grow as tall as 4 feet, making them vertical showstoppers between their distinct shape, height, and, often, bold colors. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Eight to nine
  • Color Varieties: White, scarlet red, blue, purple, pink
  • Blooms: Summer to early fall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade or full sun
  • Soil Needs: Medium moisture to damp soil

Coral Bells

Coral bells are perennial flowers that bloom in the spring or summer and last well into the fall season. Their eye-catching blooms come in white, pink, coral, and red shades, making them very attractive to pollinators like the hummingbird. Coral bells are classified as perennial flowers and create shade and striking foliage in any garden. 

Overall, these colorful flowers are considered tolerant of many conditions, including drought, humidity, and cold spells, but it’s advisable to plant them in partial shade if possible. Coral bells thrive with around four to six hours of direct sunlight daily. However, they shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight during the hottest parts of the day as this may cause them to wither. You should plant these spring and summer flowers in well-drained, rich soil. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to nine
  • Color Varieties: White, pink, coral, red
  • Blooms: Spring and summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich soil with a neutral to slightly acidic nature

Daylilies

Daylilies are low-maintenance, often red flowers that add a striking burst of color to any garden. We love daylilies because they’re almost entirely disease and pest-free and can survive harsher conditions, such as poor soil, uneven sunlight, and even drought. Daylilies are repeat bloomers given this name because each flower only lasts one day. However, their frequent bloom times mean that you’ll likely have daylily flowers from spring to the first frost in fall. 

Depending on the variety you choose, you can expect your drought-tolerant daylily to grow up to 6 feet tall. Daylilies do not typically need to be fertilized as long as your soil is somewhat rich on its own. These hardy flowers only require occasional water if you have a dry spell. Otherwise, they can often thrive without any watering if you have occasional rainfall. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Three to 10
  • Color Varieties: Red, yellow, orange, pink, purple
  • Blooms: Spring to late summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Slightly acidic to neutral and well-drained soil

Lupine

If you stop by your local garden center, most lupines that you find are actually hybrids of wild lupines. Lupines are technically perennials but are often treated as early blooming annuals, particularly in hot climates, because they’re sensitive to heat and, often, won’t come back. However, their long tubular flowers on spikes are attractive to pollinators, including hummingbirds. We recommend picking bright colors like purple, pink, and yellow if you’re looking to catch the attention of hummers. 

Plant lupine flowers in an area with full sun, excellent drainage, and ideally slightly acidic soil. These flowers do not need frequent fertilizer. In addition, lupine plants usually stand between 3-4 feet tall when they’re full-grown, but you can also find dwarf versions if you’re looking for a shorter plant under 2 feet tall. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to nine
  • Color Varieties: Purple, pink, yellow, white, blue, bicolor
  • Blooms: Spring and summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Likes slightly acidic soil that is moist but well-drained

Penstemon

Penstemon is native to North America. It comes in over 250 flower species, so there is a wide variety of heights and colors that you can choose from to complement your garden. Hummingbirds adore penstemons because of their tubular blooms and are especially attracted to the brighter varieties of penstemons that come in red, purple, or pink shades. We recommend looking at Parry’s penstemon and firecracker penstemon varieties if you want to attract hummingbirds. 

Penstemons are hardy plants that thrive in many types of soil. They prefer a slightly alkaline, well-drained soil but have even been known to grow in gravel or soil made up of primarily sand. We recommend planting these beautiful flowers in sloped areas or raised flower beds to help the soil drainage, as they’re sensitive to poorly draining soil. These hummingbird flowers grow best in sunny areas and don’t require frequent fertilization. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Varies significantly due to the many types of penstemons 
  • Color Varieties: Red, white, pink, purple, blue
  • Blooms: Early to mid-summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Needs: Slightly alkaline, well-drained soil 

Petunia

Petunias are popular annual flowers that many gardeners favor because they’re inexpensive and easy to grow. These are excellent choices for any beginner gardener looking to attract hummingbirds and come in almost every color of the rainbow, making them a great complement to any garden. In addition, you can quickly grow petunias in containers, along a garden border, or in hanging baskets. Another wonderful thing about petunias is that they repeatedly bloom, supplying constant nectar for our hummingbird friends. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to this flower’s purple, red, and pink varieties.

Petunias thrive in any sunny area with moist but well-drained soil. They will need to be fed once or twice throughout their growing season to thrive. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: One to eight (varies between annual and perennial depending on the zone) 
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, purple, red, blue, pink, white, blue, bicolor 
  • Blooms: Spring through fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained, medium moisture soil

Salvia

Salvias are beautiful garden perennials with tall spikes of tiny, clustered flowers that come in various colors. Salvia is a massive genus of plants within the mint family, which explains their distinct fragrance when crushed or cut. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees love almost every type of salvia but are known to love Salvia microphylla “Hot lips” and Salvia greggii, otherwise known as autumn sage, especially. Brightly colored salvia varieties will also be popular, especially when the flowers come in striking reds, purples, oranges, and pinks. 

The incredible thing about salvia flowers is that they’re perennial and will repeatedly bloom if kept moist. You can expect these cluster flowering plants to grow between 18 and 36 inches tall. They require no division and will continue to grow steadily on their own. If you’re a beginner gardener or are looking for an easy plant to grow in your garden, deer-resistant salvias are a great choice. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to 11, depending on the type
  • Color Varieties: Pink, purple, blue, mauve, orange, white, green, brown, red, and some multi-colored varieties
  • Blooms: Summer through fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil with a dry to medium moisture level

Zinnia

Zinnias are vibrant, easy to grow flowers with heavy, cheerful blooms. These are staples in many gardens because they produce a large single flower head on an erect stem. Zinnias come in many varieties and colors, including semi-single, single, and double-flowered. Other types include buttons, cactus, and beehive, all of which come in different heights that you can use to customize the look of your garden. 

Plant your zinnia flowers in full sun for the best results. Zinnia seedlings are more susceptible to rotting if they’re in wet, cool soil, so you must plant zinnia in a well-drained area. Zinnia is also an ideal plant for container gardening or as border plants. Remember that zinnia flowers are annuals, and they will die shortly after the first frost. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Two to eight for annuals, nine to 11 for perennial
  • Color Varieties: Purple, orange, lavender, yellow, pink, white, green
  • Blooms: Late spring through the first frost 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Trumpet honeysuckle is part of the Caprifoliaceae family, which is native to the evergreen and the Southeastern United States. Trumpet honeysuckles grow in a vine formation and have berries that attract multiple types of birds and flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. Their long, tubular flowers are stunning and brightly colored, making them attractive to humans and birds alike. 

When planting trumpet honeysuckles, consider planting them with staking or trellising to support the flowers as they grow. You can expect these vines to reach between 10 and 20 feet tall with a support structure. Trumpet honeysuckles have a high flammability rating and should never be planted within your home’s defensible space, especially in areas with high fire risk. In addition, these plants are known to be hardy and don’t typically have pest or health issues

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to nine
  • Color Varieties: Orange, yellow, red, pink
  • Blooms: Late spring
  • Sun Exposure: Best in full sun, will grow in partial shade
  • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil with a neutral to acidic base

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet vines, also known as trumpet creepers or hummingbird vines, are very attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. However, these plants can overpower a garden quickly because they will climb or “creep” onto various surfaces, such as fences, trees, and arbors, since trumpet vines can self-seed. So, if you plan to grow these, be wary of their invasive and aggressive growth because you will need regular pruning to keep the trumpet vines from overwhelming your garden and other plants. 

These vines are stunning and bright with long, tubular flowers that are an ideal shape for hummingbirds. Trumpet vines are native to Eastern North America and will need a sturdy trellis, fence, or arbor for support. Avoid overwatering or frequently fertilizing trumpet vines because these plants do not require rich, moist soil. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: Four to nine
  • Color Varieties: Orange, yellow, red
  • Blooms: During summer and fall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained soil

Final Notes

Hummingbirds are delightful, beautiful birds that are enjoyable to watch from inside your home. We recommend looking for colorful flowers, especially flowers with long, tubular shapes which are a frequent favorites among hummingbirds and other pollinators. 

We hope our piece on the best flowers for attracting hummingbirds gives you some great ideas for where to start when building an attractive garden that is sure to draw hummingbirds in. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Attracting Hummingbirds

What is the hummingbird’s favorite flower?

Plants with bright flowers shaped like tubes are especially attractive to hummingbirds because they produce more nectar than many other flowers. Great examples of these include bee balms, trumpet vines, petunias, and penstemon. Plants with many tiny, tubular flowers on long spikes are also desirable to hummingbirds because they can quickly flit from flower to flower. 

Which potted plants attract hummingbirds?

Potted plants like petunias, impatiens, salvia, coral bells, and zinnias are excellent choices for attracting hummingbirds because they’re bright flowers that pollinators, like hummingbirds, love. 

What will attract the most hummingbirds? 

Hummingbirds can be attracted to a garden with hummingbird feeders and native plants. Colorful, flowering native plants are one of the best ways to attract the most hummingbirds because they’ll provide more nectar than exotic or hybrid plants. Since hummingbirds are hardworking pollinators, the amount of nectar a plant produces is crucial for attracting the most hummingbirds to your yard. Consider adding trumpet vines, zinnias, salvia, petunias, and bee balms to your garden to attract hummingbirds to your home. 

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