We all know that our Hummingbird population, like so many other pollinator populations, is dropping to dangerous lows. I’ve chosen the plants on this list because I have years of experience growing them in my own flower beds and borders and I know from my own experience that hummingbirds adore them. The plants are not in any particular order, just the order in which they came into my mind.
Phlox (Phlox paniculata) – Beautiful panicles of bright pink and white flowers are sure to catch the attention of every hummingbird in the neighborhood. Plant these perennials in full sun and near the middle or back of the flower bed since they can grow several feet tall. Water regularly as they don’t appreciate being allowed to dry out.
Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus) – A showy flower spike in purple, pink, yellow, (almost blue) and white will fill your flower beds with blooms. Hummingbirds love the flower spikes on these plants because there are lots of blooms available on each spike. Lupines are in the Legume family and so are “nitrogen fixers” which is great for your soil. They are rather short-lived when compared to other perennials, but they do naturalize so you will continue to have Lupines in your hummingbird flower beds (if not in the same place where you originally planted them).
Salvia – Sometimes referred to as Sage, this plant attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. Salvias may be perennial or annual so make sure to check the tag on any plants you may purchase. Also there are many different cultivars of Salvia available these days, so it’s easy to find a plant that grows to the size you would like if you already have established flower beds.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) – Tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers make this an irresistible temptation for our tiny bird friends. Flowers can be yellow, purple, pink or white and are “freckled” which adds to their charm. Foxgloves prefer a slightly shaded spot in the garden and will reward you with blooms beginning in June.
Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria) – Another common name for this plant is Torch Lily because the flower spikes look very much like they are glowing. Flowers begin at the end of spring and can last through until fall, so they provide a good source of nectar for hummingbirds. The flowers are narrow and tubular, perfect for hummingbirds, and come in many shades of orange and yellow.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) – Also known as Oswego tea or Bergamot, Bee balm is a well-known and well-loved perennial plant. Its spicy scent and unusually shaped flowers make it easily recognizable. The flowers are a round bulb with a ring of tube-shaped flowers sporting an extremely long lower lip, perfect for the long beaks and tongues of our beloved hummingbirds.
Beard tongue (Penstemon digitalis) – Pretty tubular shaped flowers with a ruffled “beard” or lip are the hallmarks of a Penstemon plant. The colors run the full gamut of pinks, purples, whites and reds; every shade and blend you could imagine. If you wanted, you could make a whole garden of just Penstemons since there are so many varieties available. If you only choose one, remember that hummingbirds are extremely attracted to the color red. Butterflies and bees also enjoy the blooms, so these flowers make lots of pollinators happy.
Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) – Just like the name sounds, the flowers on this plant are heart-shaped and beautiful. They come in a combination of pink and white or all white flowers; both are lovely, classic additions to your shade garden. Expect blooms in mid to late spring.
Catmint (Nepeta) – Nepeta is great plant for beginner gardeners since it is a vigorous grower. As suggested in its name, it is in the mint family and can therefore grow and spread. Some cultivars stay neater and spread less vigorously if that is what you desire. The flowers are lavender, white, soft pink or blue and appear through the summer and early fall.
Gayfeather (Liatris spicata) – Liatris blooms first appear in mid-summer and continue to bloom through until early to mid-fall frosts hit. The flowers are either white or purple and look like bright colored candles in the garden.
Coral bells (Heuchera) – Usually gardeners only plant Heucheras because of their fantastic foliage, but they are perfect for hummingbird gardens. Their flowers are either coral, soft pink or white and float high above the foliage on wispy stems.
Larkspur (Delphinium) – The name Delphinium is derived from the ancient Greek word for “dolphin”, supposedly because their flowers are shaped like dolphins. The flowers open on tall spikes and can be white, pink, yellow, red, purple or blue as well as combinations of those colors. Delphiniums will probably be the tallest flowers in your garden and can provide a dramatic display throughout the summer.
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Products I use and (therefore) recommend:
Planty friends – Feel free to use these links to the products that I use for my houseplants. I receive a small percentage of any sales through these links, so feel free not to use them if that bothers you.
Horticultural 1/4” pumice – https://amzn.to/2KfcNPT
Horticultural perlite – https://amzn.to/3f9wwvE
Coco coir – https://amzn.to/2UBBiZF
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Coco Loco potting mix – https://amzn.to/2UHV3OY
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Heat Mat (for propagating) – https://amzn.to/2MSezbk
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Bonsai scissors – https://amzn.to/33a6F29
Hygrometer (humidity monitor) – https://amzn.to/32WtiqO
Moisture meter sticks – https://amzn.to/35FR7Vk
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Espoma Rose Tone (fertilizer for roses and flowering perennials) – https://amzn.to/3m8OGkU
Full disclosure – the last four product links will be much cheaper if you can find them in your local garden center. I’ve put them here so that you can see what they are called and what they look like, but I’d advise that you buy from these links only as a last resort.
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