Hummingbirds pollinate about 7,000 species of flowers! They move quickly from flower to flower and require lots of nectar, as well as shelter, water, and supplemental food sources. Attract hummingbirds to your garden with these design and plant suggestions.
In previous blogs, we’ve discussed butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, and other Florida-Friendly landscaping and gardening ideas. Gardening to attract wildlife is not a one-size-fits-all approach, however. Hummingbirds are important pollinators that have specific needs and preferences.
Hummingbirds as Pollinators
90% of the flowers in the world require pollination assistance, and 7,000 species depend on hummingbirds to provide it! Many flowers have even evolved to be more attractive to these little birds, with brighter flowers, more nectar, and specific shapes.
Hummingbirds move quickly from flower to flower. Pollination occurs when they brush against flowers and knock pollen to the ground or when pollen sticks to their bills or heads during feeding and gets carried to the next flower.
By providing hummingbirds with attractive flowers, shelter, water, and other basic needs, you can create a space that buzzes with these tiny, wondrous birds and enjoy the lush flower production that results.
What do Hummingbirds Need?
Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures, capable of hovering and flying upward, backward, and even upside down. They beat their wings up to 200 times per second and can fly at 25 to 30 miles per hour!
For all their high-energy activity, these little birds need plenty of nutrition—in the form of nectar. Hummingbirds have very high metabolisms and can consume double their body weight in nectar every day!
It follows, then, that while many bees and butterflies are attracted to flat-topped or clustered flowers, hummingbirds need tubular flowers that hold more nectar. In addition to lots of nectar-rich flowers, install a hummingbird feeder to supply supplemental nutrition.
Color is another important factor in attracting hummingbirds. They are drawn to bright reds, pinks, and oranges, so make sure to stick to these colors.
Hummingbirds don’t have much use for a traditional birdbath and instead prefer different water sources. Incorporate a mister, small waterfall, or fountain dripper to provide these little creatures with water.
Trees are the best shelter for hummingbirds. They are naturally drawn to the edges of woodlands and forest openings, so a garden space that includes nectar-rich flowers, trees and shrubs, and open areas like the yard or a patio will be attractive. If you don’t have large trees on your property, plant a small, ornamental tree in the garden space to provide perches and shelter.
The Best Plants for a Hummingbird Garden
Incorporate any of these plants into your garden to attract hummingbirds:
- Bleeding heart
- Butterfly bush
- Cigar Plant
- Scarlet Rose Mallow
- Trumpet Creeper (also called Hummingbird Vine)
Bottlebrush, Red Buckeye, Coralbean, and Red Horsechestnut are trees and large shrubs that attract hummingbirds as well.
Keep These Little Birds Safe
Aside from providing food, shelter, and water for hummingbirds, make sure that you practice safe garden care to protect the birds from harm.
Avoid using insecticides or herbicides. Hummingbirds also eat insects and can ingest the poison from an insecticide used in the garden. Moreover, if an insecticide eliminates insects from the space, hummingbirds will lack an essential food source.
Similarly, herbicides applied to the garden can cause contamination and kill hummingbirds that consume the affected flower nectar.