Flowers for Hummingbirds - Diane's Flower Seeds
Hummingbird Flower Seeds



Flowers for Hummingbirds
by Diane Linsley

What are the best flower seeds for hummingbirds?

There's nothing like watching hummingbirds feeding from the flowers in your own garden. I’ve been observing hummingbirds for many years, hoping to discover their favorite flowers. But just when I think I’ve figured it out, the funny little birds change their minds. 

One day, they spend all their time visiting the salvias, and another day, they prefer the zinnias. When I expressed my frustration at not being able identify which flowers were best, my friend said, “Well, some days you feel like eating broccoli, and other days you want chocolate cake. Maybe it’s the same way with hummingbirds.” 

Native Flowers for Hummingbirds

Should you only plant native flowers for hummingbirds?

The Audubon Society recommends choosing native plants that are adapted to your region and growing conditions. This is practical advice because native plants are more likely to thrive in your garden. In addition, the hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects in your region are already adapted to these plants, so they will recognize and make good use of them.

However, if it's a choice between bluegrass or non-native flowers that attract hummingbirds, it's obviously best to choose the flowers. My advice is to simply plant as many different species of hummingbird flowers as you can, giving priority to the native flowers first.

So here’s my list of the best hummingbird flower seeds. You might be tempted to plant only “chocolate cake”, but remember that “Variety is the spice of life”. The more selection you have, the better.

Annual Flowers for Hummingbirds

Balsam 'Camellia Flowered Mix' -- Brightly colored, self-sowing annual. Easy to grow from seed.

Cleome -- This annual flower is useful in more ways than one. Hummingbirds like to perch on the horizontal seedpods.

Cosmos 'Ladybird Scarlet' -- I planted this brightly-colored annual near my hummingbird feeder, and I was surprised to see hummingbirds visiting the cosmos more than the feeder. Easy to grow from seed.

Diascia 'Pink Queen' -- Wonderful annual flower for hanging baskets, which is the perfect location for viewing hummingbirds at close range.

Gilia tricolor -- Native annual wildflower for hummingbirds. Delicate, lilac and white, trumpet-shaped flowers. The fragrant blooms smell like chocolate. Easy to grow from seed.

Lavatera trimestris Mix -- A bushy annual with large, cup-shaped flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Easy to grow. For more lavatera varieties, see Annual Flower Seeds.

Mirabilis jalapa Red (Four O'Clock) -- Self-sowing annual with trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers that close up in the heat of the afternoon. Good for attracting hummingbirds in the early morning or evening. For more four o'clocks, see Annual Flower Seeds.

Monarda citriodora (Lemon Beebalm) -- Annual wildflower with pink, whorled flowers and fragrant leaves. One of the best native flowers for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Morning Glory 'Crimson Rambler' -- Hummingbirds are more attracted to red species like Ipomoea luteola, but all colors are good. For more morning glory, see Annual Flower Seeds.

Nasturtium -- Popular annual with brightly colored flowers for hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects. Nice in containers. Easy to grow from seed. For more nasturtiums, see Annual Flower Seeds.

Petunia integrifolia -- Excellent hummingbird flower for hanging baskets. For more colors, see Petunia 'Laura Bush Mix'. Easy to grow from seed.

Phlox drummondii -- Red Drummond Phlox is a native wildflower with rosy-red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Nice in containers or as a filler between other plants in the garden. Easy to grow from seed.

Salvia farinacea -- All salvias attract hummingbirds, but the best ones in my garden are Salvia azurea and Salvia coccinea. All of the salvias listed here are native wildflowers.

Silene armeria -- Self-sowing, annual wildflower from Europe. Vivid pink clusters of flowers on tall stems.

Silene pendula 'Triumph' -- Carmine-rose flowers. Great for hanging baskets. Easy-to-grow, annual flowers for hummingbirds.

Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch' -- A large, bushy annual with orange-red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Native to Mexico.

Zinnia 'Lilliput Mix' -- Zinnias of all sizes and colors are always a big hit. For red flowers, see Zinnia 'Cherry Queen' and Zinnia 'Red Cap'. Easy to grow.


Perennial Flowers for Hummingbirds

Agastache foeniculum -- Native wildflower for hummingbirds and butterflies. Lavender-blue spikes of flowers. Edible, licorice-flavored leaves for tea. First-year-flowering perennial. Easy to grow from seed.

Alcea rosea 'Indian Spring' (Hollyhock) -- Old-fashioned biennial with large, showy flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Aquilegia 'McKana's Giants' (Columbine) -- This mix includes many colors. The red flowers of Aquilegia formosa bloom for a long time. For more aquilegia species, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) -- Native wildflower. Clusters of bright orange flowers in mid summer. One of the best flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Campanula americana (American Bellflower) -- Tall stems of violet-blue flowers from July to October. Native wildflower for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus' -- Clusters of reddish-pink flowers. Long-blooming, first-year flowering perennial for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Delphinium 'Blue Bird' -- Stunning, blue flowers on tall stems. For butterflies and hummingbirds. For more delphinium, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) -- A biennial or short-lived perennial with crimson, pink, white and bicolor flowers. The sweetly fragrant flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Digitalis pururea (Foxglove) -- The tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, and the plants are shade-tolerant. I was surprised to see a hummingbird sipping on the pale yellow Digitalis lutea. That's what I call "hummingbird broccoli". For more digitalis species, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Eupatorium maculatum (Joe-Pye Weed) -- Fall-blooming, native perennial with large heads of mauve flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Gaura lindheimeri -- A graceful, first-year flowering perennial with pink-tinged, white flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Native wildflower.

Hesperis matronalis -- Easy-to-grow perennial with violet or white, fragrant flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies in late spring.

Hibiscus lasiocarpus -- Native perennial. Hummingbirds spot these huge flowers from far away, and they swoop in to investigate. I'm not sure how much nectar they have, so I plant other flowers around them to provide more food.

Ipomopsis rubra (Standing Cypress) -- Native wildflower with tall, narrow stems of trumpet-shaped, scarlet-red flowers. Chocolate cake for hummingbirds.

Liatris pycnostachya -- Tall spikes of purple flowers in late summer. Drought- tolerant, native perennial for hummingbirds and butterflies. Also see Liatris ligulistylis, Liatris punctata and Liatris spicata.

Lobelia cardinalis -- Native. One of the best flowers for hummingbirds. Late summer-blooming perennial with bright red flowers.

Lupine 'Russell Hybrids' -- Get an early start on the hummingbird season with these colorful flowers.

Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross) -- Heirloom perennial. The large clusters of vivid, scarlet-red flowers seem to glow in the garden like a neon restaurant sign that says, "Hummingbirds, eat here!" 

Malva 'Zebrina' -- A first-year-flowering perennial with pale pink flowers that have purple stripes. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Penstemon strictus -- Native perennial. Penstemons, especially the red-flowered ones like Penstemon eatonii, are chocolate cake for hummingbirds. For more penstemons, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) -- I was surprised to see a hummingbird return to this plant several times one day, especially since there was an agastache nearby that should have been more tempting.

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) -- Native perennial with lavender-blue, trumpet-shaped flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Blooms all summer into fall.

Sidalcea malviflora 'Rosanna' -- Small, bright pink, hollyhock-like flowers on tall stems. Native wildflower that attracts hummingbirds.

Solidago nemoralis (Goldenrod) -- One of the last flowers of the season. This native perennial provides nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects in late summer and autumn.

Verbena bonariensis -- Tall clusters of purple flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. Self sows vigorously.


More Hummingbird Flowers

Abelia, azalea, begonia, bleeding heart, butterfly bush, canna lily, chelone, clematis, crabapple, crocosmia, dahlia, fuchsia, flowering quince, geranium, gladiolus, hawthorne, heuchera, honeysuckle, hosta, iris, kniphofia, lantana, lilac, mock orange, nepeta, pentas, physostegia, rose of sharon, scarlet runner bean, Stachys coccinea, veronica, trumpet vine, weigela, wisteria, yucca, zauschneria.


Related Articles

Flowers for Butterflies -- Attracting butterflies with nectar and host plants.

Flowers for Beneficial Insects -- Support your local ladybugs and lacewings.

First-Year Flowering Perennials -- Get more bang for your buck.


Other Resources

Amazing pictures of baby hummingbirds by Alek Komarnitsky

Planting Flowers for Birds by Diane Porter at Birdwatching.com

National Audubon Society -- Learn how to attract birds to your garden.

The Hummingbird Forum -- Share your experiences with hummingbirds.

The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds by Donald & Lillian Stokes


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Ipomopsis rubra Standing Cypress