How to create a hummingbird garden

Increase the odds that hummingbirds will visit your garden and return there happily year after year or, make it a permanent home, by following these tips and instructions.

Hummingbirds are beautiful, yet tiny, migratory birds that are native to the Americas. Most live in Central and South America, but some like the Ruby-throated hummingbird are found as far north as Canada.

Attracting hummingbirds to your garden requires a warm climate at least part of the year, and a food source, both nectar from flowers and small insects such as aphids and spiders. While feeders may initially attract hummingbirds to your garden, discontinue their use because they encourage hummingbirds to rely on human beings for food. Also, do not use herbicides or pesticides that may harm hummingbirds or kill insects and spiders, whose webs provide materials for hummingbird nests.

Like other birds, hummingbirds have evolved to pollinate certain flowers. Although small in size, they have long narrow beaks perfect for flower shapes that are elongated such as bell-shaped (bellflower), trumpet-shaped (petunia), or tubular (honeysuckle). Color, especially red, is what attracts hummingbirds to a flower and to a garden, not the fragrance.

Designing a hummingbird garden using any of the plants listed below will ensure success. Before choosing which plants to use take a look at these design tips to increase the odds of hummingbirds visiting your garden and returning there happily year after year or, making it a permanent home.

Design Tips

1. Hummingbirds build their nests on the branches of small to medium-sized trees, typically near a small stream or pond. When designing your garden, plant a few shrubs and small trees to provide shelter, a place to rest, and potential nesting locations for hummingbirds (provided you live in a warm climate year-round).

2. Use native trees, shrubs, and flowers whenever possible instead of newer cultivars that favor color or flower shape over the sweetness of the nectar.



3. Be sure to include a water element such as a birdbath, spray mister, or shallow bowl or depression in a rock to catch rainwater.

4. Locate your garden in an area that receives both sun and shade so that you can use both sun and shade-loving flowers to provide variety.

5. Hummingbirds eat frequently throughout the day. Plant a mix of flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times of the year. This will ensure continuous blooms and a constant food source for hummingbirds.

6. Plant large blocks of flowers with similar colors to attract the attention of hummingbirds. Use the same flower species, or use different species, for example, a mix of bee balm and cardinal flowers.

7. Because hummingbirds hover off the ground when they feed, use plants that have long flower stalks such as hollyhocks or purple coneflowers.

Plants

Trees

Red Buckeye

Yellow Buckeye

Carolina Silverbell

Eastern Redbud

Shrubs

Butterfly Bush

Flowering Quince

Abelia

Weigela

Rose of Sharon

Azalea

Rhododendron

Vines

Trumpet Vine

Morning glory (may be invasive in some parts of the country)

Scarlet Runner Bean

Clematis

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Japanese Honeysuckle is very invasive and should not be planted)

Flowers

Bee Balm

Cardinal Flower

Columbine

Veronica

Mint

Lupine

Hosta

Bellflower

Delphinium

Coral Bells

Yucca

Penstemon

Liatris

Skullcap

Monkey Flower

Daylilies

Tiger Lily

Purple Coneflowers

Foxglove

Hollyhocks

Jewelweed

Zinnias

Fuchsia

Petunias

Impatiens

Begonia

Cleome

Flowering Tobacco

Nasturtiums

Salvia

Snapdragon

Pinks

Phlox

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