Flowers For Hummingbirds
What’s not to love about hummingbirds? We love how they buzz about Groovy Plants Ranch pollinating our salvias, phlox and fuchsias. They’re super cute with their ruby-throats, itty-bitty size and impressive flying skills. Their wings move in a figure-eight pattern allowing them to fly 25-30 mile per hour, hover in mid-air and even fly backward. They sustain this crazy-high energy level with a carbohydrate diet of nectar and tree sap plus protein-rich insects they catch in flight.
If that’s not amazing enough, they travel 1,000 miles from Mexico to mate here and raise their young. So, we’re happy to give them a big welcome with a nectar feeder and plenty of their favorite flowering plants. Researchers estimate they visit as many as 3,000 individual flowers in a single day and consume 1.5 times their body weight daily.
We hope you’ll join us in supporting these amazing pollinators with a buffet of nectar-rich flowers. They love bright colors and tubular blooms perfect for their long beaks and lapping tongues.
- Salvia (Salvia nemorosa) – Salvias are an absolute hummingbird magnet with their vivid spikes in purples, pinks, reds and whites. Try the classic purple ‘May Night’, newer ‘Skyscraper’ series or heat-tolerant ‘Black & Bloom’ with black stems and purple flowers. Plant them in full sun in landscape beds or containers. After they flower, cut salvias back by one third for a second round of blooms.
- Hummingbird mint (Agastache) – This fragrant perennial boasts large spikes of tubular flowers that bloom over a long season from summer into fall. Grow in full sun and well-drained soil in a bed, border or rock garden. Try ‘Blue Fortune’ (24-36”) or the more compact Kudos and Poquito series (10-12”).
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) – A member of the mint family, bee balm is a long-blooming perennial that thrives in full sun. Look for the native ‘Jeana’ in purple or newer varieties in dwarf sizes (12-15”), mounded forms and larger blooms. Plant them in mass as a beacon for hummingbirds and other pollinators.
- Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – Another summer perennial, this fragrant garden phlox is perfect for the cottage garden. It prefers full sun and reaches 24-48” depending on the variety. Try the classic ‘David’ in all white or newer two-tone, mildew-resistant cultivars.
- Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadense) – This charming spring perennial blooms just in time for hummingbirds as they return north. Columbine performs best in part shade. We love its nodding red and yellow bell-shaped flowers.
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis) – This native perennial is found naturally along rivers, ponds and wetlands, so plant it in a low-lying area of your garden and keep it mulched to help retain moisture. Cardinal flowers definitely are a go-to for hummingbirds with their tall, red flower spikes. Interesting note: the flower is named for the red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals.
- Coral Bells (Heuchera) – Yes, these shade perennials are known for their colorful foliage, but their dainty bell flowers do attract hummingbirds. We grow a wide selection of coral bells from ‘Purple Palace’ to ‘Carmel’ to two-tone ‘Solar Eclipse.’
- Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) – Add some vertical spikes to your border with red hot pokers. You’ll find them in saturated hot colors like red, orange and yellow as well as ombres and two-tones. We also like their grass-like foliage. Plant them in clusters in full sun and well-drained soil.
- Crocosmia (Crocosmia) – This wonderful South African summer-blooming bulb features symmetrical flower spikes in fiery shades of red, orange and yellow. Plant crocosmia in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. They grow to 3’ in height and easily multiply to share with friends.
- Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) – This vigorous vine can climb 40 feet, so plant it in full sun along an arbor, trellis or fence. Don’t be afraid to prune it back to keep it in check. Hummingbirds love its orange-red tubular flowers.
- Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera sempervirens) – Trumpet honeysuckle is another great vine for hummingbirds with its fragrant, trumpet-shaped blooms. Don’t worry this vine is not invasive like bush honeysuckle. Rather, it is a slower grower and eventually reaches 10-12’. Train the vine up a trellis, fence or arbor for the best show.
- Fuchsia (Fuchsia) – Hummingbirds love our hanging baskets of fuchsia! Their dangling, lantern-like tropical blooms are truly showstoppers. Grow them as annuals, and keep them out of the sun; they thrive in shade to part shade.
- Red Canna Lily – Red cannas are another hummingbird darling. Plant these tropical rhizomes in large pots in full sun for a hummingbird show on your patio. Try red-flowering Tropicana or Australia varieties.
- Aloe Vera – For a Groovy favorite, try aloe plants that send up long stalks covered in bell-shaped flowers, once plants are mature (4 years or more). To encourage blooms, place in a south-facing window and begin monthly liquid fertilizer applications in spring. Move indoor aloe plants outdoors for the summer once nighttime temperatures are 60 degrees or higher. Gradually transition them to bright indirect light, and watch for blooms on mature plants. Repotting can also encourage blooming in root-bound plants. Getting aloes to flower takes patience but is well worth the wait.
- A slow-motion video of a hummingbird drinking, flying and shaking
- National Geographic’s video on how hummingbirds sustain their high energy
- Super Hummingbirds show on PBS
- How to Make Hummingbird Nectar for your feeders by the National Audubon Society.