Hummingbirds Like the Color Red Right? Wrong!

Well…not wrong exactly. Hummingbirds like red but not any more than they like other colors. Truth is they don’t give a flying hoot…wait…that would be an owl. What kind of sound does a hummingbird make? Anyone? Fodder for a future article I’d say!

But back to hummingbirds and their color preferences. Hummingbirds don’t care what color the flower…or feeder might be.

It’s all about the nectar not the color.

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!
A Hummingbird Hones in on a Purple Delphinium

 

And location. Hummingbirds pin the location of nectar rich dining experiences into their internal GPS. Sort of like humans when they find a good restaurant. Only humans would probably use their phones.

Attracting hummingbirds is a lot like opening a good restaurant. You need the right food (see menu listed below) and you need to be patient while you wait for your business to attract a loyal following. Don’t give up if you don’t get any hummingbirds in the first year. Or even two. Plant it and they will come. Eventually. And once they have, you can count on them to return year after year after year.

Whatever you do, don’t close shop.

If you’ve ever returned to a restaurant you liked only to find it has closed or worse-the restaurant has turned into a gym where the only thing on the menu is memberships and yoga mats-then you can feel a hummingbird’s pain when he arrives at what once was a nectar filled location only to find the nectar source has moved or been replaced.

There’s a lot of buzz about feeding hummingbirds food coloring and processed sugar. We shouldn’t. Even if it wasn’t bad for the birds, those feeders are a pain in the arse to keep filled and to clean. And they should be cleaned at least once a week.

Planting a patch of hummingbird friendly plants is so much easier and it’s so much better for the birds.

Here’s a list of nectar rich plants that are sure to make your home a hummingbird haven. Eventually. Bloom times have been added so you can ensure something is blooming for the entire dining season.

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

The Menu

One Dozen Nectar Rich Plants for Your Hummingbirds Dining Pleasure

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!
Borage Borago officinalis

1.     Borage

Not only does borage attract happy hummingbirds this prolific herb also makes fantastic companion plants for tomatoes and strawberries.

Annual – but a prolific (read potentially invasive) self seeder.

Full Sun

Bloom Time – Late spring through early summer. Staggering plantings will ensure blooms all season long.

 

 

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

2.     Bee Balm Monarda didyma

Okay, I admit we’re definitely seeing red in this picture. Bee balm is on the far right. It is red, but bee balm also comes in shades of pink, white and purple which the hummingbirds like equally well. The white shrubby plant in the background is a Persicaria polymorpha. The red wall planter on the easel holds a variety of herbs including cilantro, basil, parsley and thyme.

Perennial

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Bloom Time – Mid/Late Summer

 

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!
Ruby Throated Hummingbird and Columbine Painting by Judy Gail

3.     Columbine Aquilegia These self seeding perennials come in a huge variety of colors ranging from yellows to blues to purples to pinks and yes, to reds. Hummingbirds love them all.

Columbines readily cross with each other making them a fun project for amateur botanists. Maybe you can come up with a unique color combination and have it named after you!

Perennial – and a prolific self seeder. New plants usually won’t bloom until the following year.

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Bloom time – Spring to Early Summer

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

4.     Lilies  Asiatic, canna, trumpet, martagon, oriental, day…white, yellow, pink, red; it just doesn’t matter. Hummingbirds love them all.

Perennial

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Bloom Time – Ranges from early summer, to summer, to all season long depending on variety you choose.

     Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

5.     Delphinium

There are some short varieties available but most delphiniums are tall – six feet (two meters)  or more kind of tall! You will need to stake them or grow them along a fence to keep from toppling over in the wind.

These beautiful bloomers don’t just grab the attention of visiting humans; they attract hummingbirds by the handfuls.

Perennial

Full Sun

Bloom Time – Early to Mid Summer

 Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

6. Echinacea   

The jury is out on whether this herb cures the common cold, but we have proof positive that hummingbirds love them. And I’ve never heard a hummingbird sneeze. Have you?

Perennial

Sun/Part Shade

Bloom Time – From mid summer to fall.

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

7.     Fuchsia

Gorgeous blooms that are right at home in hanging baskets on your patio. The perfect place to relax and watch hummingbirds feast on your fuchsias!

You can also eat them yourselves. The fuchsias not the hummingbirds.

Perennial – but will need to be wintered over indoors in less than tropical climates.

Part Shade especially in the heat of the afternoon.

Bloom Time – Early Summer to Fall

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

8.     Gaillardia

Also known as blanket flower this orange and yellow blossom fires up flower borders and brings in hordes of hummingbirds. Butterflies too.

Perennial

Full Sun

Bloom Time – Early Summer to Early Fall

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

9.    Honeysuckle Vine  

This is a beautiful porch climber that will feed and attract hummingbirds all season long. Can reach heights of 16 feet (5 meters) so needs a trellis, lattice or some tall sturdy structure to climb on.

Perennial

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Bloom Time – Early summer to fall

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

10. Hosta

Hostas are rarely considered for their blooms. They’re usually grown for their fabulous foliage. Hummingbirds beg to differ. They seem to find the tiny, delicate Hosta blooms irresistible.

Perennial

Full/Partial Shade

Bloom Time – Mid Summer though can vary depending on variety

Hummingbirds Only Like Red Right? Wrong!

11.      Petunia 

Ah, the dependable workhorse of the flower world otherwise known as the petunia. One for every color scheme, they fill our baskets, fill our containers, fill in gaps in our perennial gardens and they also fill hummingbird bellies with nectar.

Annuals – except in tropical climates

Full sun/Part shade

Bloom Time – Early Summer to Frost

The hummingbird diving into these pretty pink peony blooms are proof positive that red isn’t the only color that attracts these winged jewels to your garden.

12.     Peony

Last on our list, but never least, the big, bold, beautiful peony. A hardy perennial that offers up big balls of blooms from spring to early summer and then carries on with pretty foliage right through to fall. Comes in a variety of petal types and colors including yellow, peach, white, pink and red.

Perennial

Full Sun

Bloom Time – Spring to Early Summer