How to Attract Hummingbirds To Your Garden

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.

How to attract hummingbirds to your home

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!

Click here to see a list of the different hummingbird species you might see by state/province.

Keep reading to find out how to attract hummingbirds to your garden.

Use Red In Your Garden

The color red attracts hummingbirds
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.

Red hummingbird feeder*

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.

Red Garden Art From Amazon

Plant Brightly Colored Tubular Flowers

Attract hummingbirds with brightly colored, tubular flowers By Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Attract hummingbirds with brightly colored, tubular flowers

By Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The best flowers are tubular and brightly colored, and grow where it’s easy for the birds to hover and sip.

Hummingbird with tubular flowers ©Harry Collins - stock.adobe.com
©Harry Collins – stock.adobe.com

The tubular shapes hold more nectar in them than flatter shapes.

And the bright colors (especially red) attract the bird’s attention.

Butterfly on lilac bush
Butterfly on lilac bush

The bonus is that a lot of these plants also attract butterflies.

Plan a Continuous Blooming Garden

Plan a continuous blooming garden to keep hummingbirds in your yard all season long By Motacilla [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Plan a continuous blooming garden to keep hummingbirds in your yard all season long

By Motacilla [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Deadhead Flowers To Promote Re-blooms

Deadhead plants to encourage more blooms that continue to provide nectar for hummingbirds
Deadhead plants to encourage more blooms that continue to provide nectar for hummingbirds

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.

Plant Native Plants

Native plants, like bee balm, provide more nectar for the hummingbirds than hybrid plants By Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky - Own work, CC BY 3.0
Native plants, like bee balm, provide more nectar for the hummingbirds than hybrid plants

By Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky – Own work, CC BY 3.0

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.

Native Rhododendrons And Azaleas are brightly colored and provide nectar for hummingbirds
Native Rhododendrons And Azaleas are brightly colored and provide nectar for hummingbirds

Add a Mister

A fountain or mister provides water for hummingbird baths
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!

Water Fountains From Amazon

Encourage Spider Webs

Spider web By Luc Viatour [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

By Luc Viatour [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

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!

Don’t Use Pesticide

Pesticides aren't good for hummingbirds http://www.cgpgrey.com [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

http://www.cgpgrey.com [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Hang Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird at bird feeder By Michelle Lynn Reynolds - Friend's personal collection, CC BY-SA 3.0

By Michelle Lynn Reynolds – Friend’s personal collection, CC BY-SA 3.0

Hummingbird feeders are the alternative to using natural sources for feeding your hummingbirds.  To make sure the hummingbirds notice your feeder, be sure to buy a red one.

If you are going to use feeders, there are some things you need to know:

1. The solution that goes into the feeder is basically sugar water.  Make your own by mixing 1 cup white sugar with 4 cups of water.  Bring it to a boil to make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved in the water and kill any bacteria.  Cool the mix before filling your feeder.  Avoid using honey, artificial sweeteners and red dye in the water since all of these may be harmful to the birds.

2. Find out when hummingbirds are starting to arrive in your area.  Try using this map to find out when the ruby-throated hummingbird (one of the most common hummingbirds in North America) is starting to migrate each year.  Put the feeder out 5 to 10 days before that date so that the hummingbirds find it as they come into town.  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 migration.

3. Hang the feeder in the shade to prevent the sugar solution from fermenting too quickly.

4. Make sure to clean the feeder every 2 to 5 days.  You don’t want the sugar solution to 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 buy one which is easy to clean.

5. Hummingbirds can be very territorial, with one male keeping all of the other hummingbirds away from “his” feeder.  To prevent that, you might want to consider putting up 3 or more feeders…there’s no way one bird could protect all of them.


Provide Resting Places

Hummingbird on a tree branch ©petrsalinger - stock.adobe.com
©petrsalinger – stock.adobe.com

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.

Hopefully you can use these tips to start attracting hummingbirds to your own garden!

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2 Responses

  • I never knew it was moving water they preferred! I just assumed a standard bird bath was enough, never knowing why I didn’t see them there. Great tip!

    • Thanks, Laine! I have that bird bath with the running water right outside my office window so I get to see the hummingbirds as they fly through there 🙂

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