TOP 10 HUMMINGBIRD FLOWERS
This is a blog I've thought about for a while now. Flowers are one of the most important aspects of a hummingbird garden. When hummingbirds see colour, they see food. This is extremely important when the young first leave the nest. They don't know feeders yet, but they are instinctively drawn to flowers. They will go to just about any flower once, but they will quickly decide which is worth the return. If we can figure out their favourites, it'll almost guarantee their return. Although some of the choices I've listed are not great for all climates, they will be for most. Please participate with your comments below to help others in all regions of the continent. Just include your favourite hummingbird flower and the Province or State.
Vining Nasturtiums are one of my favourite annuals. They grow in various colors, most commonly reds, oranges and yellows. They grow very quickly and produce an abundance of nectar in each flower. The vining variety are preferred because you can grow them to lengths of well over 6 feet. The higher off the ground the more likely hummingbird will feed from them. These are a must have annual in anyone's garden, for attracting the young hummingbirds. The adult hummingbirds don't choose these as much because of the distance they have to insert their head to reach the nectar. Adult male and female hummingbirds are far more cautious about feeding from flowers if they're unable to see their surroundings.
Zinnias are a very basic annual flower that are easy to feed from. They come in the widest range of colors and grow to heights of 24 inches or more. This is one of my favourite choices for young hummingbirds. This type of flower requires very little experience from hummingbirds to gather nectar. They simply see the large target and insert their long bill into the pollen.
Million Bells produce an abundance of flowers more so than many other annuals. These beautiful jewel color tones are what make these flowers so attractive to hummingbirds. They flower profusely from Spring through Autumn, and are relatively hardy. As a matter of fact I currently have some still flowering after temperatures have reached below -7° C. With their masses of flowers, they produce one of the largest hummingbird targets visible from long distances away.
Scarlet Runners can be an exceptional annual flower. Sometimes they are a hit or miss. Once a young hummingbird feeds from these flowers they can return over an over repeatedly, but if they can't solve the opening to these flowers they may not return. It is an exceptional choice for climbing, reaching heights in excess of 10 feet.
Delphiniums are a hardy perennial good to zone 2 and colder. This is the one flower that draws the most attention from hummingbirds repeatedly, year after year, especially in regions further north. They typically produce flowers in colors between blue and purple, and sometimes in pinks and whites. They don't hold the quantity of nectar that many other flowers have, but there are enough flowers and nectar in each to make this perennial a top choice. If it weren't for the annoying worms that can take over these plants if not maintained, it would be the perfect perennial.
Honeysuckle is a perennial good to zone 3. It may grow in harsher climates but doesn't produce as well. This is one plant that would be an absolute must in my garden if the hardiness would allow. Each flower produces an abundance of nectar equivalent to about two or three drops of rich hummingbird food. There are several varieties with different hardiness and color choices, but they are typically in the yellow, orange and pink tones. In zones 3 and warmer, DO NOT pass up on this choice.
Hostas are a hardy perennial to zone 2. They produce a stock of flowers that hang downward, forcing hummingbirds to feed up into the flower. There are miniature varieties that wouldn't be as effective for hummingbirds, but the medium and larger varieties are a great choice. They produce flowers typically in the white to light purple colors.
Fuchsias or one of the top choices of annuals. Although they are a mild perennial, they are typically grown as an annual in zones 9 and colder. There are many varieties, all of which are hummingbird favourites. The reds, purples and pink colours also fall within the ideal colours for hummingbirds.
Crocosmia grow from Corms, which are very similar to bulbs. They are hardy to about zone 5 or 6. This last summer was my first successful year in getting these plants to flower. However, I live in a much cooler zone. The corms have to be planted out in Spring after all frost has left the ground in zones colder than 5. For those fortunate enough to leave them in the ground year round, this is a top choice for hummingbirds. They produce flowers in red, orange, and yellow, and each contains sweet rich nectar.
Foxgloves are a Biennial. This means they require 2 years to complete their process. The first year they grow large leaves and develop enough energy so that they can flower the following year. They are hardy to about zone 3, but sometimes people have been able to grow them in zone 2, if in the right location. They can reach heights up to 6 feet or more, which also make this flower an ideal choice, along with the wide range of colours they produce.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.