A flower bed is a beautiful use of garden space with the added benefit of attracting pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies. One of the most stunning pollinators you might be lucky enough to attract is the energetic hummingbird. Energetic and vibrantly-colored, these small birds love a variety of flowers, from long-lived cultivars to spring-blooming beauties. In fact, many flowers evolved specific characteristics to attract hummingbirds to help with floral reproduction. All you need to do to make your yard a hummingbird hangout is plant what they love.
Hostas are large, leafy perennials that attract hummingbirds with their spikes of lily-like flowers that bloom in the summer. Some varieties are fragrant and others aren’t, but hummingbirds and bees love their nectar and will return while the flowers are in bloom. Try to get hosta bulbs in the ground in the late summer or early spring.
Lantana’s hummingbird appeal and clusters of blooms make them a great choice for any gardener, but they’re especially well-suited to beginner gardeners. Lantana needs full sun and well-draining soil, and doesn’t require heavy or regular watering once established. Its blooms are made of multiple smaller blooms and are attractive to nectar-drinking critters. Once mature, it can reach 6 feet in height and is hardy in USDA zones six through 11.
As a tropical beauty, hibiscus is a favorite of hummingbirds in part due to its fantastic color. Vibrant colors draw hummingbirds, so Hibiscus is a good choice for a hummingbird garden. It needs routine watering to maintain balanced but not wet soil. Water your hibiscus daily when the temperatures warm, and bring it inside when the temperatures fall below 50 degrees.
The tubular shape of the morning glory and its vibrant variety of colors make it perfect for a hummingbird garden. It’s a climbing vine that will need lots of space and full morning sun. Morning glories require properly-balanced fertilization to produce flowers. Sow morning glory flowers in USDA zones 3 through 10 after the soil has reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Be ready for an abundant display of morning glories the following year as well, since they self-seed in many locations and return even stronger in the spring.
Petunias like partial shade to full sun, although if you’re looking to attract hummingbirds, you’ll want the latter location for better blooms. Petunias will provide color all summer and need soil with compost worked in for a strong performance. Deadheading petunias and keeping them out of extreme heat will encourage blooms continually. Petunias are annuals except in zones 10 and 11, but they are fast-growing and will provide plenty of food for your local hummingbirds.
Salvia is a favorite not only of hummingbirds but of butterflies as well. There are both annual and perennial varieties, and the colors range widely, though the pink and red varieties may attract more hummingbirds because of their bright hue. Plant it outside after the last frost date in an area with full to partial sun. Salvia prefers dry soil, so let it dry out between waterings of about half an inch.
This pretty perennial will provide interest in your garden for most of the growing season, and attract nectar-eating birds and bugs while it blooms. The variety of colors, including pink, purple, red, and blue, makes it attractive to hummingbirds and pleasing in any style of garden. As long as the soil is no too dry and full sun, columbine will thrive virtually anywhere. Consider mulching them in very hot areas to keep the roots cool and help the cool-weather plant ride out the warm season.
Foxglove is a perfect hummingbird plant thanks to the myriad of blooms on a tall-accessible stake. It can be grown as a perennial or a biennial, meaning it grows one year and flowers the next. Foxglove enjoys moist soil and usually flowers in the spring. Make sure to enrich your soil before planting seeds or transplants, and never eat any part of this poisonous plant.
Bleeding heart is a shade-loving perennial that flowers in the spring, nearing the end of its blooming cycle when hummingbirds are migrating to their summer areas. It goes dormant in late summer, but some varieties can bloom on and off in cooler areas. Once it’s dormant for the summer, consider planting an annual like petunias to keep the hummingbirds around. It’s well-suited to USDA zones 3 through 9. Remember to water your bleeding heart regularly.
If you’re looking to add some tropical flair to your patio or garden while bringing in more hummingbirds, fuchsia is the way to go. This fantastic flower blooms throughout the growing season but will need some cool shade during the hotter months. Watering them will also help keep them cool, but overwatering will lead to root rot. If you’re growing fuchsia in a pot, make sure it has holes and good drainage. Bring your fuchsia indoors during the winter months to allow it to go dormant and preserve it for the next growing season.
Bee balm is a late summer-blooming perennial that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. The tubular flowers are white, pink, or red. Bee balm tolerates wet soil, making it a smart choice in areas where other flowers would struggle. It does well in full sun to partial shade. Some varieties are prone to powdery mildew, but there are resistant options, too. Bee balm is hardy from zones 4 to 9.
The cardinal flower is a perennial that does best when planted in full sun to partial shade. It is hardy from zones 3 to 9 and reaches a mature height of between 2 and 4 feet. The cardinal flower blooms during the summer and into the early fall. In addition to attracting hummingbirds, the blooms draw in bees and butterflies.
Zinnias' showy flowers can be many colors, including orange, purple, pink, lavender, yellow, and white. This annual is a nice choice for a low-maintenance garden. It does well in full sun to partial shade and is not attractive to deer. Zinnias do not require rich soil to thrive and are tolerant of drought conditions. They do well in nearly any zone.
If you're looking to add some visual interest in your garden, consider the trumpet creeper. This vine can grow and spread to 30 feet. It prefers full sun or partial shade and neutral to slightly acidic soil. The orange flowers bloom in the summer, and the plant develops brown pods in the fall. Trumpet creeper is hardy from zones 4 to 10 and attracts butterflies in addition to hummingbirds.
The rhododendron is a perennial shrub that grows in full sun to partial shade, although it can thrive in shady areas as well. Its showy flowers bloom from spring to early in the summer, and it is hardy from zones 3 to 9. There are many varieties of rhododendron, with species barely two feet tall to some that reach 20 feet. Choose the variety you plant carefully, taking into consideration the plant's mature height and the area where you plan to plant. In addition to hummingbirds, the rhododendron attracts bees.