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5 Favorite Flowers of Hummingbirds

5 Favorite Flowers of Hummingbirds

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Having the right kinds of plants that hummingbirds are seeking is guaranteed to draw them in to your garden. Grow these five plants and you’ll never have to fill a hummingbird feeder again!

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Vermillionaire® Cuphea

Vermillionaire® Cuphea

Perhaps more than any other Proven Winners plant, Vermillionaire Cuphea, commonly known as firecracker plant, is intensely attractive to hummingbirds. The image you see here isn’t edited – hummingbirds just couldn’t leave Vermillionaire alone when we were photographing it!

This plant’s tubular, red-orange flowers are the ideal shape and color for attracting hummingbirds, plus their great abundance allows the birds to make a whole meal out of one plant. The blooms keep right on coming from spring to fall without deadheading, lining the 18-28” tall stems. This is a sun loving, heat and drought tolerant plant that will survive winters in zones 8 and warmer. It is grown as an annual in colder climates.

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Toucan® Scarlet and Toucan® Coral canna lily

Toucan® Canna

You might be surprised to see canna lilies on the list of plants that hummingbirds prefer, but if you look closer at their attributes, you’ll know why. First, their large, showy blooms are produced all summer in bright shades of red, pink, salmon, orange and yellow—colors that hummingbirds can easily spot from a distance. Their blossoms have deep throats filled with nectar. Next, canna’s strong stems and thick, sturdy foliage provides a proper perch when the birds need a rest. Lastly, they are perennial in zones 8 and warmer. Hummingbirds tend to return each year to visit their favorite food sources, including cannas.

Canna lilies can be grown in the landscape or large containers in full sun to part sun. The Toucan series stays a bit shorter, topping out at four feet, making them easier to grow in containers without getting too top heavy. They thrive in heat and humidity with ample moisture.

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Rockin’® Deep Purple Salvia. Photo courtesy of Norman Winter.

Rockin’® Salvia

Here’s a plant you’ll want to plant close to your patio or window so you can enjoy the hummingbird parade that will inevitably ensue. The large, deep throated flowers of Rockin’ salvias are irresistible to hummingbirds, but butterflies and bees are also frequent visitors. These salvias function as natural hummingbird feeders, so skip mixing up your own sugar water and let the plants do the work. They’ll bloom all the way into fall without deadheading.

Rockin’ salvia grows best in full sun to light shade and only needs average soil to thrive. Look for the large-flowered Rockin’® Deep Purple, Blue Suede Shoes™ and Fuchsia at your local garden centers each spring to use as annuals in most zones, though gardeners in zones 8 and warmer may find they survive the winter.

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Superbells® Pomegranate Punch™ Calibrachoa

Superbells® Calibrachoa

Did you know that hummingbirds gather twice their weight in nectar every single day? It takes a whole lot of flowers to produce that much food, which makes prolific bloomers like Superbells calibrachoa incredibly useful for hummingbirds. A full pot of Superbells Pomegranate Punch, like you see here, is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Try growing any of the red, orange, deep pink or yellow varieties of Superbells in hanging baskets so hummingbirds can’t miss them as they are whizzing through your garden at top speed.

Calibrachoa blooms best in full sun but can also handle light shade. Let the soil dry down a bit between each watering and feed them once per week to keep them blooming strong from spring into fall.

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Luscious® Berry Blend™ and Luscious® Citron™ Lantana

Luscious® Lantana

You might like to grow lantana for its fruity fragrance, but hummingbirds won’t necessarily notice that trait. They use their sense of smell not to find food but to avoid danger by detecting the scent of predators near or on the flowers from which they are feeding.

Like all the flowers on this list, Luscious lantana blooms in hummingbirds’ favorite shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. Each packed cluster contains numerous tiny flowers with tubular throats, and a hummingbird’s quick tongue action can easily tap each one for nectar. Plant lantana in full sun and watch them bloom like crazy through the heat of summer in containers and landscapes.

Learn more about gardening for hummingbirds:

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Patent Information: Rockin'® Deep Purple Salvia USPPAF CanPBRAF; Rockin'® Blue Suede Shoes™ Salvia USPP32694 CanPBRAF; Rockin'® Fuchsia Salvia USPP30923 Can6296; Superbells® Pomegranate Punch™ Calibrachoa USPP24503 Can4915; Luscious® Berry Blend™ Lantana camara USPP23919 Can4905; Luscious® Citron™ Lantana USPP32829 CanPBRAF

Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners across North America. 

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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