How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

hummingbird
Hummingbird, Ben Wilson, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hummingbirds choose flowers based on colour. Red is the most attractive to hummingbirds, but they are also drawn to deep blues, bold pinks, and red-oranges.

The best types of flowers to attract hummingbirds are wall climber and tubular flowers on tall stems. Flowers should ideally be wild native species with a long blooming period.

Some of the best plants for attracting hummingbirds include:

    • Beebalm
    • Canada Lily
    • Cardinal Flower
    • Trumpet Creeper
    • Indian Pink
    • Mountain Rosebay/Catawba Rhododendron
    • Red Buckeye
    • Red Columbine
    • Spotted Jewelweed
    • Sunset Hyssop/Licorice Mint
    • Indian Shot
    • Mexican Cigar Plant
    • Honeysuckle Fuchsia, “Gartenmeister Bonstedt” Fuchsia
    • Standing Cypress/Spanish Larkspur
    • Honeysuckle
    • Red Tropical Sage/Texas Sage/Scarlet Sage
    • Anise Sage

Hummingbirds have no sense of smell so they rely on visual cues to find food sources. You can maximize the visibility of your garden or deck using red ribbons, streamers, or other red objects on display to capture the attention of hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird feeders can be purchased from most garden stores or centers. Choose one in the hummingbird’s favorite colour – bright red.

You can also make your own hummingbird feeder by decorating a glass jar with bright red silk or plastic flowers. Flowers can be attached with waterproof red electrical tape, which is available at most hardware stores. Punch several holes in the lid by placing the lid on a piece of wood and hammering a large nail through it in several spots. Fill the jar with nectar, screw the lid on tightly, and hang the jar upright in an open area using twine or wire.

Feeders should be filled with natural rather than instant nectar, which often contains food colouring and other unhealthy ingredients.

Hang the feeder in a highly visible place where it will be easy for hummingbirds to reach, preferably in an open area where the hummingbirds can spot approaching predators, or ideally, out of reach of predators. Clean the feeder and replace the nectar at least once a week, and preferably every 3 days to prevent bacteria buildup.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Add 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar to 1 cup of boiling water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the mixture from the stove and let it cool completely before adding it to the hummingbird feeder. You can make larger batches, as long as the mixture is always 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Excess homemade nectar can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Never use honey or artificial sweeteners in a hummingbird feeder. Honey can cause hummingbirds to develop a tongue fungus, and artificial sweeteners have no nutritional value.

Natural Garden Pest Control

Chemical pesticides can poison hummingbirds. See Natural Garden Pest Control for safe, non-toxic options such as homemade natural pest spray recipes, pest repellant plants, and more.

For more gardening articles, visit the main Gardening page.

References:

    • Beaulieu, D. (n.d.). “Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds; Attracting Hummingbirds with Plants.” About.com
    • Canada-Gardens.com. (n.d.). “Gardening for the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Canada.”
    • Canadian Wildlife Federation. (2007). “Hummingbirds.” Wildaboutgardening.org.
    • Hamir, A. (2008). “Luring Ladybugs Into Your Garden – Garden Pest Tip.” GardenGuides.com.
    • Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History & Operation Ruby Throat: The Hummingbird Project. (n.d.). “Top 10 Native Hummingbird Plants.” Rubythroat.org.
    • Hummingbirds.net. (n.d.). “Attracting Hummingbirds.”
    • Rock, K., & Rock, M. (n.d.). “Hummingbird Gardening for Northern Gardeners.”

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