Attracting Hummingbirds to your Garden

Hummingbirds are intensely curious

One of the small joys of working in the greenhouses are the daily Hummingbird experiences! We are often buzzed by these lovely birds as they visit to feed on our flowers. One of their favourites is Nepeta or Catmint but we see them on a range of flowers including Geraniums, Astilbes, Petunias and Salvias.

Here’s a short clip of one on some Nepeta (credit to Keely) and tips how to attract them to your garden.

Hummingbirds can be easily attracted to your garden by using a combination of feeders and plants. In this area, the ruby throated hummingbird is the most common species found. Hummingbirds are attracted to plants by flower colours and nectar, not fragrance and are especially attracted to certain shades of red. They are intensely curious and will not hesitate to approach any red object, even human clothing, looking for potential food sources. We are often ‘buzzed’ in the greenhouses and once one of our staff even had a hummingbird land on her finger! So follow the tips below to attract these fascinating Hummers into your garden.

  1. Environment:
    Ensure that there is always a source of fresh clean water available for drinking and bathing. Create both sun and shade areas within your hummingbird habitat. Shade areas are needed for perching as well as nesting.
  2. Feeders:
    Set out feeders in mid April. Glass feeders are recommended because soft plastic can break down, potentially adding chemical residue to the nectar solution. The best colour for your feeders is red. Keep the feeders filled with a nectar solution of a 4:1 mix of boiled water and sugar. (refrigerate extra nectar) Do not use honey as it can carry a fungus that is fatal to hummingbirds. Do not use food colouring of any kind. Clean the feeders with warm soapy water and rinse well every 3-4 days in cool weather and more often in summer. Feeders should be left out in the fall until freezing becomes a problem. This will not prevent hummingbirds from migrating, but will provide a food source for late migrants.
  3. Plants:
    Below is a list of both native and cultivated plants that will help attract hummingbirds.
Perennials Annuals
Agastache (Anise Hyssop) Cleome
Alcea (Hollyhock) Fuchsia
Aquilega (Columbine) Mimulus
Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) Nicotiana
Chelone (Turtlehead) Petunia
Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) Salvia (red)
Heuchera – red flowered
(Coral Bells)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) Campsis (Trumpet Vine)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower) Lonicera (Red Honeysuckle)
Monarda (Beebalm) Weigelia
Penstemon (Beardtongue)

Hummingbirds are intensely curious!