Enjoying an afternoon on the patio watching colorful hummingbirds whiz past sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? There’s something oddly entertaining and awe-inspiring about these tiny little birds that flit around so quickly, with their wings flapping faster than our eyes can see. It’s only when they pause for something to eat that we can really admire their vibrant, iridescent feathers.
Attracting hummingbirds in our yards is pretty simple— it’s just a matter of putting out the right kind of food and presenting it in a way that will appeal to them. Hummingbirds need a lot of energy to keep moving so fast, so sugary sweet nectars are their go-to food source. They’re particularly attracted to the color red, so if the food sources we provide have red features or accents, we’re more likely to catch a glimpse of these enchanting birds.
Hummingbirds are avian pollinators, so they actually do us a favor by visiting our gardens. They’re attracted to blossoms with sweet scents and plenty of nectar, and while many different colored flowers can be appealing to hummingbirds, the red ones are definitely their favourites. Here’s a list of hummingbird-attracting plants to add to the garden:
- Salvia: This plant earned the nickname “Hummingbird Sage,” so as you can probably guess, it’s pretty popular among hummingbirds. The tall conical clusters of brightly colored bell-shaped flowers are easy for hummingbirds to access with their skinny straw-like beaks. It grows great in garden beds or containers so you can set them up all around the yard.
- Delphinium: This lush blossom is very similarly shaped to the salvia plant, and while most common varieties come in rich blues and purples, there are bright magenta delphiniums that hummingbirds find quite eye-catching.
- Bee Balm: A mop of spiky neon petals stick out from every bee balm flowerhead scattered across this fast-growing shrub, resembling a crowd of hair-metal rock stars. Their bright display doesn’t just attract hummingbirds to the party— it also brings in loads of other beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies. The more the merrier!
- Columbine: These star-shaped blossoms have bright, contrasting colored petals available in so many interesting color combinations. Columbine with bright red and orange petals are the most enticing for hummingbirds. They don’t like too much sun, so partial or dappled shade under a tree canopy would be an ideal spot to plant columbine.
- Foxglove: These colossal clustered flower towers can grow up to 6 feet tall! They make a dramatic statement in any garden and won’t go unnoticed by the neighborhood hummingbirds. Pink and white varieties are the most common, but candy apple red foxgloves are available too.
A good hummingbird feeder should have three key features: tubular flower-shaped spouts, bright red accents, and a wide mouth so it’s easy to clean. Hummingbirds don’t like dirty feeders, so if some buildup and gunk have started to form, they won’t be too inclined to stop by.
A fabulous, affordable glass feeder that we carry is the More Birds Ruby Hummingbird Bird Feeder. It has five perches, can be easily disassembled to wipe clean, and even has a built-in moat on the top of the lid to keep ants out of the container. Just fill it with nectar and hang it on a tree branch or hook near your patio.
Hummingbirds aren’t seed-lovers like other birds. Nectar is the way to go if we want to bring them in view of our patios. You can either find a hummingbird nectar recipe online or skip the hassle and buy pre-mixed sweet nectar to pour directly into your feeder. The hummingbirds in our area love the Pennington Hummingbird Nectar that we have here at Alsip.
Hummingbird-spotting is a patio pastime we look forward to year after year. While it sometimes takes a while for the local hummingbirds to take notice of our flowers and feeders, those rare hummingbird sightings are always worth the wait.