There’s nothing quite like waking up to a quiet morning to hear hummingbirds zipping and larking about outside. Besides contributing to the soundscape of a garden, hummingbirds, like bees and butterflies, are also excellent flower pollinators, carrying pollen from one bloom to the next as they feed on nectar with their needle-like beaks. Bonus: They also feed on pests!
Depending on where you live, you may be able to enjoy the presence of hummingbirds year-round. Hummingbirds migrate south when the days get shorter, spending their winters in Mexico and Central America. In the spring and summer, however, they head north to visit most of the United States.
Throughout these warmer months, you can make their stay as welcoming as possible. Along with providing food, water, and shelter for these darting darlings, you can also plant nectar-rich flowers in your garden if you want blooms to complement your bird bath or hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds usually go for bright red or orange flowers, although sometimes they’ll hang around purple and pink ones, too. They typically go for tubular blooms, retrieving nectar with their long, thin bills.
If you’re looking for the best hummingbird flowers to incorporate into your garden, we’ve got you covered with our favorite picks ahead. Remember, if you can, to find cultivars of these flowers native to your region, as this will help you attract native hummingbirds!
Best for warm climates: Penstemon
Blooming from mid to late summer, penstemon, or beardtongue, is a resilient bloom with showy flower panicles that are great for hummingbirds to access the nectar. It can have up to 24-inch tall flower spikes and works well in hot, dry gardens in climate zones 3 to 9. The beardtongue flower can tolerate temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit — just make sure to go easy on the watering and give your flowers sandy, well-draining soil.
Best for cold climates: Cardinal flowers
For those living in cooler climates, cardinal flowers are perfect for attracting hummingbirds. Hardy down to climate zone 2, these blooms feature spires of tubular red flowers that self-seed prolifically. If you bring hummingbirds into the equation, they can spread even further throughout your garden, so keep them in check if they become invasive. If you live in a cold area prone to wind, you want to make sure to stake your flowers. Cardinal flowers also appreciate moist soil and don’t tolerate sitting in a dry growing medium.
Best for full-sun conditions: Salvia
Perfect for climate zones 5 through 9, salvia is a go-to hummingbird magnet, and it also happens to be great for full-sun conditions. A part of the Lamiaceae (or mint) family, it features vibrant flower spikes that can bloom throughout the summer. Salvia can be a fast spreader — a hardy contender for hot and dry conditions. The stalks can grow anywhere between 18 inches to 5 feet tall, so choose a suitable variety for where you’re keeping your plant in your garden. Other than attracting hummingbirds and butterflies, they also repel deer and rabbits with their pungent leaves.
Best for partial or full-shade conditions: Fuchsia
Even those who don’t get full sun in their gardens can enjoy the presence of zippy hummingbirds. Tender perennials in zones 10 and 11, vibrant fuchsias do best in shady areas where their soil can’t heat up too much — a shady refuge is especially paramount during the hottest days of summer. Fuchsias do have a bit of a reputation for being finicky. Other than protecting them from heat, you want to make sure you never let them sit in wet soil. When their beautiful hanging blossoms open up, pinch them back to keep the flowers coming.
Best for drought-tolerant gardens: Bee balm
Bee balm is a pollinator magnet through and through — it attracts bees and butterflies, in addition to hummingbirds, with its scarlet, tubular flower heads that thrive in the summertime. Established plants can brave tough drought conditions, but you still want to stick with a consistent watering schedule to prevent issues like powdery mildew and browning, curling foliage. Keep your plant in sandy soil with good drainage.
Best perennial shrub: Rhododendron
Flowers come and go throughout the year, but you can enjoy a perennial flowering shrub through all the seasons with rhododendrons. This evergreen plant features dark, leathery leaves year-round, as well as showy clusters of flowers that attract hummingbirds in the spring. Rhododendrons are ideal for climate zones 5 through 8, but make sure to choose a larger, more established plant if you live in a warm region.
Best ground cover: Bugleweed
You don’t need to keep your hummingbird magnets enclosed in a garden bed or planter — you can actually attract hummingbirds with a blooming ground cover like carpet bugleweed. Growing about 3 to 6 inches tall and spreading about 1 foot out, this hummingbird flower is great for filling out those tight corners in your garden. Good for climate zones 3 to 9, it typically features glossy foliage and small clusters of purple blooms.
Now that you have an idea of what conditions these common hummingbird-friendly flowers can handle, go ahead and choose one that suits your garden environment. With the help of a small bird bath or feeder, you can greet these lovely creatures when they come out to visit this spring and summer.
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