Want to attract hummingbirds to your garden? Find out how to provide food, water and shelter that will get these pretty birds to visit your yard.
Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds and have iridescent feathers.
They can fly in all directions – forward, backward, up and down – and their wings move so fast that they look like a blur.
In the garden they flit from flower to flower seeming to change direction on a dime…all of which makes them really fun to watch.
And probably explains why so many us want to know how to attract them to feed in our gardens.
In most locations in North America, hummingbirds are migratory so you will only see them during the warm weather seasons.
But they do like to return to the same food sources every year, so if you can get them to start feeding in your garden, you can be pretty sure that they will be back again next year!
Keep reading to find out how to attract hummingbirds to your garden.
1 | Use Red In Your Garden
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The color red attracts hummingbirds
Like most birds, hummingbirds do not have a good sense of smell.
So color is what attracts them to your yard.
And hummingbirds love red.
In fact, the red doesn’t have to be on a flower to attract hummingbirds.
Tie red ribbons on trees, use bright red garden art, or hang red bird feeders and you can get a hummingbird to be interested in your yard.
Of course, you will need food, water and cover available in your yard if you want to keep them there.
2 | Plant Brightly Colored Tubular Flowers
The best hummingbird flowers are tubular, brightly colored, and grow where it’s easy for the birds to hover and sip.
The tubular shapes hold more nectar in them than flatter shapes.
And the bright colors (especially red) attract the bird’s attention.
The bonus is that a lot of these plants also attract butterflies.
3 | Plan a Continuous Blooming Garden
In order to provide natural food for your hummingbirds all season long, plan your garden so that you will have flowers blooming all summer.
You can refer to our list on the last page to find plants that bloom during different seasons.
Adding some hummingbird-friendly annuals to your garden will help to bridge any gaps.
4 | Deadhead Flowers To Promote Re-blooms
To extend the bloom time of your plants, make sure you remove the flowers immediately after they have finished blooming.
That will encourage your plants to put out another set of flowers, and give your hummingbirds food for a longer period of time.
5 | Plant Native Plants
Native plants like trumpet honeysuckle, bee balm, and hummingbird sage provide much more nectar than hybrids and exotics.
That means you can pack more hummingbird food into the same amount of space.
As an added benefit, native plants are also well-suited for their climate….so they usually need less maintenance in order to thrive.
Note: Some of the plants that hummingbirds love can be aggressive so you might want to check with nurseries and gardeners in your area before planting them. Or put them in an area of your yard where they can expand without causing problems.
6 | Add a Mister
A fountain or mister provides water for hummingbird baths
Hummingbirds do like to take baths but they prefer to fly through moving water than to splash around in a bird bath.
Provide a fountain that has small amounts of flowing water or a mister and you will have some happy hummingbirds!
7 | Encourage Spider Webs
Don’t get rid of the spider webs in your yard if you want to encourage hummingbirds.
Spider webs provide both nesting materials and food for hummingbirds.
They like to weave the web into their nests to help make it a soft place for the baby hummingbirds.
Insects that have been caught in the web also provide easy-to-access food for hummingbirds…the bugs provide their protein, and they don’t have to work very hard to get these ones!
8 | Don’t Use Pesticide
Since hummingbirds eat bugs, the next logical conclusion is that using pesticide in your yard could be harmful to the birds.
If they eat any of the insects that have ingested pesticide, the hummingbirds will also be poisoned…which isn’t very good for encouraging them to stay in your yard.
9 | Provide Resting Places
With all of the energy that hummingbirds use flitting from flower to flower, they do like rest occasionally.
Providing them with some protected resting spots near your feeder gives them a comfortable place to stop.
10 | Hang Hummingbird Feeders
This next way to attract hummingbirds seems like a no-brainer…hanging hummingbird feeders.
Except I don’t use them. Because they’re a lot of work (more about that later).
But just in case you’re more dedicated than I am…
Hummingbird feeders are the alternative to using natural sources (ie. flowers) for feeding your hummingbirds.
To make sure the hummers notice your feeder, be sure to buy a red one.
Hummingbird Feeder Tips
If you are going to use feeders, there are some things you need to know:
- You can make your own hummingbird food. Get the recipe below.
- Put the feeder out 5 to 10 days before the hummingbirds are starting to arrive in your area so they find your food as soon as they come into town. After all that flying, they’ll be hungry!
- Leave it up for 2 weeks after you no longer see them visiting to make sure they can get a lot to eat before they start their winter migration.
- To find out when hummingbirds are starting to migrate each year, try this map for the ruby-throated hummingbird. It’s one of the most common hummingbirds in North America.
- Hang the feeder in the shade to prevent the sugar solution from fermenting too quickly.
- Make sure to clean the feeder every 2 to 5 days. Otherwise, the sugar solution will go bad and make the birds sick. This also means the feeder(s) should be hung in a location that is easy to get to…and that you should buy one which is easy to clean.
- Hummingbirds can be very territorial, with one male keeping all of the other hummingbirds away from “his” feeder. To prevent that, consider putting up 3 or more feeders…there’s no way one bird could protect all of them.
Hummingbird Food Recipe
The solution that goes into the feeder is basically sugar water.
To make your own:
- Mix 1 cup white sugar with 4 cups of water in a pot.
- Bring it to a boil stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. (This will also kill any bacteria in the water.)
- Cool the mixture before filling your feeder.
Avoid using honey since it promotes the growth of fungus and mold.
Artificial sweeteners and red dye should NOT be used since they may be harmful to the birds.
Hopefully you can use these tips to start attracting hummingbirds to your own garden!
Other Gardening Ideas You Might Like
- Hummingbird Plants: 25+ Of The Best Flowers That Hummingbirds Love
- Full Sun Perennials: 10 Beautiful Low Maintenance Plants That Thrive In The Sun
- Easy Ways To Add Water To Your Garden
Have comments or questions about how to attract hummingbirds to your garden? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on March 10, 2016 but was updated with new content on September 15, 2022.