Plants to attract hummingbirds

March 2008

The following is from a brochure put together by Brevard County Horticulture Extension Agent Sally Scalera to use in the Master Gardening classes that are offered during the first three months of the year.

First, some hummingbird facts!

  • They only live in the Americas.
  • UFL photoOnly 338 species are known, 16 are found in the US. (Three can be found in Florida: the Black-chinned & Rufous are winter visitors and the ruby-throated is our only nesting hummer in Florida.)
  • The nest is walnut-size and adorned with lichens, moss and bound by spider webs or fine plant fibers. (To get an idea of the hummingbirds and their nest, this website will take you through a couple months, beginning with the one-half inch eggs. On the last page, the final picture will demonstrate just how small the nest actually is.)
  • Hummers have among the largest appetites in the bird world. They feed every 10-15 minues from dwn to dusk.
  • The ideal flower colors are RED, orange or pink. Hummers start eating as early as 45 minutes before sunrise, and they really need energy after a cold night.
  • Hummers also need protein and other nutrients so they eat soft-bodied insects and spiders.
  • Try setting out some overripe fruit (like banana peels) to attract flies for the hummers to munch on.

Nectar rich plants

Common name (Scientific name)

Trees
Coral bean (Erythrina herbacea)
Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)
Red bottle-brush (Callistemon citrinus)
Geiger-tree (Cordia sebestena)

Shrubs
Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.), not davidii
Cardinal's guard (Pachystachys coccinea)
Coral porterweed (Stachytarpheta speciosa)
Firespike (Odontonema stricta)
Glory bower (Clerodendron speciosissimum)
Fiddlewood (Citharexylum spinosum)
Firebush (Hamelia patens)
Florida azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)
Florida pinxter azalea (R. canescens)
Necklace pod (Sophora tomentosa var. truncata)
Pagoda flower (Clerodendron paniculatum)
Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Scarlet hibiscus (H. coccineus)
Swamp hibiscus (H. grandiflorus)
Turks-cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)

Vines
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera empervirens)
Cross vine (Bignonia capreolata)
Cypress vine (Ipomea quamoclit)
Scarlet morning glory (I. coccinea)
Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
Asclepias

Herbaceous perennials
Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa)
Aloe (Aloe spp)
Baby sun rose (Aptenia cordifolia)
Pictured at left Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Firecracket plant (Russelia equisetiformis)
Red milkweed (Asclepias lanceolat)
Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana)
Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia)
Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra)
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Wildflowers
Beardtongue (Penstemon multiflorus)
Blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum>
Blue sage (Salvia azurea)
False dragonhead Physostegia purpurea)
Four o'clocks Mirabilis jalapa)
Lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata)
Pink beard tongue (Penstemon australis)
Prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa)
Red basil (Calamintha coccinea)
Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea)

Right plant, right place

Make sure the plant you choose will work in your yard. Check plants for...
pH (many plants can tolerate a wide range),
soil moisture (dry/droughty, moist or wet),
light conditions (full sun, partial sun, shade),
hardiness zone (hardy 9B or tender 10A+),
mature height and spread (will they fit the area).

Some thoughts on hummingbird feeders

  • Only use as a supplement and not as their only food in your yard.
  • Hang it where you can see it.
  • Keep it clean, flush it out with hot tap water, use a bottle brush and don't use soap.
  • Don't use red dye. Buy a feeder that has red colored plastic to attract the hummers.
  • For a simple recipe mix: 1 part ordinary white cane sugar to 4 parts water.
  • Don't want to mess with a feeder? Plant baby sun rose in a hanging basket and hang near a window.

University of Florida/Brevard County Extension

Two office locations:
3695 Lake Drive, Cocoa FL 32926 -- (321) 633-1702
1455 Treeland Blvd. SE, Palm Bay FL 32909 -- (321)952-4536