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About the flowers

Choose flower colors to suit your tastes. Brighter colors attract the attention of the birds, but they'll follow the sweet scents of any color flowers.

Most of the hummingbird's favorite flowers have tubular-shaped blooms to poke their long beaks into, and very sweet fragrances. You get not only blooms and hummers each day, but aromatherapy, as well. These flowers attract other beneficial pollinators to the garden. Choose plants that produce nectar, and bloom together or in close succession to attract these little birds all season. They'll eat destructive insects, as well.


Bee Balm (Monarda)

Perennial. I grow several varieties of this tough plant, in different colors and heights, all over my gardens. Easy to grow and propagate, in-ground or in pots. A day-long magnet for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Tight clusters of flowers, and the leaves smell minty. Here are a few growing  in my garden. 

My gardens are well-pollinated because I grow this long-blooming plant. They can take heat and pollution, and are a great addition to a pollinator habitat. Not fussy about soil as long as it's well-draining and you keep it watered. They'll let you know when they're thirsty. The flowers start to dry on the stems. Cold hardy in Zones 4-9. Deadheading will assure repeat blooming all summer til fall.

Honeysuckle (lonicera)

Very showy, delicate, long trumpet-shaped orange-red or yellow and white blooms in spring through summer. Red berries are attractive to all birds  Vining 6 to 20 ft. tall, 3 to 5 ft. wide (mine are at least 6 ft. wide and trellised). I grow these in pots and they trail along trellises, posts and fences.  Full sun to part shade . Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. Here are photos of some of my honeysuckles in flower. Hummingbirds seem to enjoy visiting just before dusk.

- The trumpet shapes attract Hummingbirds. Try "Orienpets" - a  hybrid combination of oriental and trumpet lilies that are tall and are also called "tree lilies" they will also attract butterflies and other pollinators. There are border lilies, short enough for the front of borders, and many other taller sizes. They all look spectacular and smell amazing. They come in a huge palette of colors. To learn about and how to grow lilies, check out this page. Note: Daylilies are not true lilies.

Here are some  varieties growing in several areas of my landscape.


Type - Annual below zone 10. Star-shaped blooms from summer to frost Size 12 to 22 in. tall, 10 to 18 in. wide. Full sun, moist, well-drained soil; very heat-tolerant. Comes in several colors.


Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’)

Shrub. Very fragrant pink and raspberry-colored blooms from summer til early fall. Foliage turns yellow in fall.  3 to 6 ft. tall, 3 to 5 ft. wide Full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates clay soils. Cold hardy zones 3 to 9. I train mine to a single stemmed dwarf tree.

Butterfly Weed (Milkweed)

I have several types in different heights in my butterfly and pollinator gardens. 
Essential to the survival of the endangered Monarch butterfly, as well as a favorite of bees.

Perennial. Blooms in Oranges, reds and yellows. Summer flowers followed by seed pods; reseeds; attracts butterflies and hummingbirds Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained Size 1 to 3 ft. tall , 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. I grow these in raised beds and planters to keep them from becoming invasive.

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Perennial. Blooms in late spring. Frilly foliage. 12 to 18 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide. Flowers and foliage come in different colors. Part shade, well-drained damp soil. Cold-hardy in zones 4 to 9.

Oranges and yellows. Blooms from late spring til frost, medium green foliage. 10 to 12 in. tall and wide. Full sun to part shade 
Does best in poor, infertile soil. Blossoms are tasty sprinkled in salads and it repels bad insects in the garden.

Perennial. Tubular flowers, available in several colors, bloom from late spring to summer; reseeds, so flowers if you don’t want seedlings  12 to 15 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide  Full sun to part shade. Well-drained soil and regular moisture. Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

Spikes bloom early to midsummer. Cut faded flowers to encourage rebloom. 30 to 36 in. tall, 15 to 18 in. wide. Full sun to part shade  Rich, well-drained soil. Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9.

A Little More About These Delicate Little Birds

Hummingbirds are an American bird species, found nowhere else in the world.

Growing the plants they love will give them natural food and nutrients. Using hummingbird feeders does not. Feeders may look pretty, but most times, they are ineffective, attract wasps, ants, fungus, bacteria and mildew. This can actually make hummingbirds sick. There's no need for these feeders. Grow a garden filled with flowers that provide the nectar they naturally feed upon. Retire them or toss them out.

The idea of the color red attracting them, so buy a feeder with red on it or use red nectar in it is a myth that has been debunked. It can be any bright color or no color, as in their choosing of white flowers - Hummingbirds ultimately find the nectar in trumpet-shaped and tubular flower forms. And they remember where those are planted. It's not natural for them to poke their beaks into a hole in a fake plastic flower or into glass feeders to get to their food, and the wasps that invariably gather are a deterrant, not a draw.

If you decide to keep feeders in addition to plant attractants, be religious in your commitment to keep them clean, and keep the homemade nectar fresh. To do otherwise will eventually sicken or kill the birds. Why bother with mixing up messy potions when you can create a food source that provides beauty and fragrance, as well as the visiting birds?

* Indicates those considered invasive, if not controlled by pruning, 
removing seed heads and shoots, or containing in pots.

Peruvian Lily
Virginia Bluebells
Bee Balm
*Butterfly Weed
Bleeding Heart
Tulip Tree
Black Locust
Clematis Vine
Beauty Bush
*Honeysuckle - grow in pots
Mexican Sunflower
Coral Bells
Red Hot Poker
Cardinal Flower
Obedient Plant
*Raspberry - spreads by shoots
*Trumpet Vine
*Trumpet Creeper
*Morning Glory
Flowering Quince
Witch Hazel
*Butterfly Bush- invasive in some regions
Rose of Sharon
Giant Hibiscus

Article and Garden Photos: 
©2020 Mary Hyland
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