Create a Hummingbird Garden Using Hummingbird Flowers

Planting hummingbird flowers is a great place to start, if you are planning on creating a hummingbird habitat. If you are having trouble attracting hummers to your feeders a hummingbird garden may be just what you need.

Hummingbird on blue flowers

Many hummingbirds will never adapt to feeding from the hummingbird feeders we provide, but all hummers eat the nectar from flowers. Learn more about bird feeders here. You don't need a lot of space to create a hummingbird garden. In fact, you can attract hummers with hummingbird plants in hanging baskets or patio planters. No matter what your situation, with a little planning you can create a habitat for attracting hummingbirds.

You don't need a lot of gardening experience to create a hummingbird garden. You'll be happy to know that there are hundreds of plants that will attract hummers, many of which are hardy and easy to maintain. First you need to find out which hummingbirds are found in your area and which hummingbird flowers they are attracted to. A local bird club or garden club is a good place to find this information.

The following are the basics of a good hummingbird garden:

  • Use trees and shrubs to supplement the hummingbird flowers in your garden. The hummers will benefit from the shade, perching spots and nesting sites more than the trees and shrubs shorter blooming cycle.
  • Perennials make perfect hummingbird flowers and should be used whenever possible. They will grow back year after year. Studies have shown that hummingbirds will return to the same feeding places from year to year and perennials will provide a consistent food source.
  • Place hummingbird flowers of like color in large groups instead of single plants scattered around. Since hummingbirds are attracted to color, it will be easier to catch their attention with a large, single patch of color.
  • Use a variety of hummingbird flowers that will bloom at different times. This will insure that nectar is available throughout the spring and summer.
  • Plant your gardens as early as possible to insure that hummingbird flowers are available when hummers arrive in your area. You can save money if you grow your own plants from seed. And if you start them early indoors, they will bloom sooner when planted outside.
  • If you don't have much space, consider using hanging baskets, flower boxes or patio planters.
  • Minimize the use of insecticides. Nectar is only part of a hummingbird’s diet. They also enjoy feeding on tiny flying insects and spiders.
  • A shallow birdbath or mister will be a major attraction for hummingbirds. They get all of the water they need from nectar, but hummers love a daily bath. If you use a shallow birdbath, place it in the hummingbird garden near a shrub, preferably in the shade. If you use a mister, place it near broad-leafed plants. Hummers will bathe in the pools of water that collect on the leaves (this is especially fun to watch).
  • Make sure you set up a place for hummingbird viewing. Maybe a spot in the shade (a respectful distance away) to quietly enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Here is a list of some of my favorite plants for attracting Ruby-throated hummingbirds:

Coral Bellls

Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguine)

Coral bells are low, mound shaped plants growing to about 12-18 inches.

Flowering occurs in late spring to early summer with flowers rising to about 24 inches.

The flowers are an airy cluster of red, bell-like hummingbird flowers. Perennial, zone: 4-9.

Red Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

Red Bee Balm

Bee Balm has showy red flowers in large heads or whorls of about 20-50 flowers at the top of the branching stem, supported by leafy bracts, the leaflets are a pale-green color. The stem of Bee Balm is square, grooved and hard; and about 3 feet high. Bee Balm is easily grown in ordinary garden soil. It also grows well in heavy clay soils, requires a part shade to sunny place to grow. Perennial, zone: 3-9. 

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove is a biennial plant with soft, hairy, toothed, ovate and lance-shaped leaves in a basal rosette. The life span of the plant is 2 seasons. The first year growth remains in a basal rosette of leaves. Second year growth produces flowering stems, 3 -6 feet in height. Flower spikes have purple to white spotted thimble-like flowers which hang down and last about six days. Foxglove is a source of digitalis prescribed by doctors to strengthen the heart and regulate its beat. Extremely poisonous! Enjoy, but do not eat! Perennial, zone: 4-9.

Scarlet Salvia (Salvia coccinea)

Scarlet Salvia

Scarlet sage is a perennial in warmer climates and an annual where winter temperatures stay below freezing for more than a few hours at a time. Scarlet sage reaches 2-3 ft tall, with 1-2 in triangular leaves on long petioles (leaf stems) opposite each other on a square stem.

The showy flowers are bright red, about an inch long, and arranged in loose whorls along the upright stem. Blooms appear continuously from early summer to first frost. Annual.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

bleeding heart plant

Old fashion bleeding heart blooms from late spring to early summer. This perennial prefers partial shade and adequate moisture during the summer period and grows to about 2-3 feet. If well watered, the foliage remains attractive well into the fall. Perennial, zone: 2-9. 

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal flower

Cardinal Flower's brilliant fiery red flowers on dense spikes grow up to 4 feet tall to make this one of the showiest wildflowers. The tubular cardinal red flowers last 4 to 6 weeks and is a favorite with hummingbirds and Sulphur butterflies. Lobelia cardinalis is best planted in rich moist soil in full sun to light shade in a formal perennial bed, moist meadow, water garden, or as a container plant for a patio. Perennial, zone: 2-10.

Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadense)

Red Columbine

Red Columbine is a charming plant with attractive foliage and showy flowers that appeal to hummingbirds and butterflies. This plant grows up to 3 feet tall harboring blue-green leaves growing at the plants base and along the stems. The unique shape and color of Red Columbine flowers are created by 5 petals hanging from a stem in a bell-like fashion. To provide elegant contrast, 5 leaf-like yellow sepals are appended to the red petals. Plant Eastern columbine in average, well drained soil in full sun to medium shade in a hummingbird or butterfly garden. This plant is easy to start from seed. Perennial, zone: 2-9.

Many of us will put out hummingbird feeders only to be disappointed by only a few visiting birds. Consider planting hummingbird flowers, if this has happened to you. Besides attracting more hummers, a hummingbird garden will give you the opportunity to observe hummingbirds in a more natural habitat.

Click here for some fun facts about the hummingbird that you might not know.

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