As soon as hummingbirds start buzzing around the garden, many gardeners put out their hummingbird feeders. To encourage more hummingbirds, you need to ensure more than a few plants are blooming when the hummers arrive. Feeding hummingbirds with natural plants is much more effective than just using a feeder. You can use both of course. But feeding hummingbirds with plants (especially native plants) is healthier for the birds and much prettier to look at in the garden!
There are many rules about hummingbird food safety, and it's easy to forget all of the rules. But there are so many plants hummingbirds love that we already have in our garden or can add to attract more birds. It is great to watch the male hummers’ courtship dives from the back patio or deck. Some hummingbirds will even begin to claim certain spots of your garden as their own territory each summer.
To naturally attract hummingbirds and enjoy the same plants they use as nourishment, choose plants with brightly colored and tubular flowers. Hummingbirds are attracted by color, not scent. Red is their favorite, but purple, yellow, orange and pink also bring them to plants. And in addition to tubular flowers, try plants with blooms that nod, or bend downward slightly. Of course, continuous blooming also helps.
Favorite Drought Tolerant Plants Hummingbirds Love
Agastache (Agastache cana)
This xeric rare wildflower has bright pink flowers on upright stems all summer, and some, such as Texas hummingbird mint, are aromatic as a bonus for humans. There are other many variations of agastache, also called hyssop, in varying purples, oranges, pinks and reds, that attract hummingbirds with their slender, tubular flowers.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia)
Butterflies share this purple-flowered favorite with hummingbirds. The spiked flowers appear at the end of the branches and can be from eight to more than 12 inches long.
Autumn or cherry sage (Salvia greggii)
The salvia has bright pink, raspberry-colored flowers on a low bush all summer long. The low-to-medium water plant can grow in nearly any soil.
Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
This is the tree I miss the most since moving to a colder zone, although I might try it here soon. The beautiful xeric tree can be trained to grow wild and bushy or more tree-like. But its charm to hummingbirds and humans is the large tubular flowers that come in light and dark pink colors.
Other hummingbird favorites that grow in the mountains, high deserts and xeric landscape that attract hummingbirds are some types of columbine, some bulbs, such as crocosmia, and every variety of penstemon. You also can’t go wrong with a plant aptly named “Hummingbird Plant” (Zauschneria Californica), a medium-water, full-sun plant that has scarlet-orange flowers. It will require extra watering for a year or two until established, and grows to more than two feet in height.