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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

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Want to attract hummingbirds to your garden for a little comic relief? That’s certainly one reason to try to draw them in, but they’re useful as pest control, too! 

There are lots more natural pest control ideas here (though probably not as cute!)

hummingbird on an aloe vera blade

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How (and why) to attract hummingbirds to your garden

Hummingbirds are a beautiful addition to an outdoor space and will keep you entertained with their aerial antics. 

But they are also an asset to gardeners for their eating habits. 

What do hummingbirds eat?

Of course, they love nectar, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Gardeners will want to hear about the other things hummingbirds eat. Like insect larvae, beetles, ants, aphids, gnats, mosquitoes, and wasps to name a few. 

The pests that plague your garden are fine cuisine for these little birds, so you can understand why inviting hummingbirds to your place can be a worthwhile effort as well as free entertainment. 

So, how do we attract hummingbirds?? There are a number of ways, which I’ll detail below. 

Hang a hummingbird feeder — or three!

Hummingbird feeders can be a good source of supplemental “nectar” but they do require a commitment in that they need to be cleaned and filled regularly. 

Moldy hummingbird feeders can kill hummingbirds, so it’s important to clean the feeders regularly and feed them fresh sugar water. Use the hummingbird food recipe below to make a fresh batch every few days.

 

How to make hummingbird food

Make an easy hummingbird food by mixing one part sugar with four parts boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Do not add red food dye to the mixture.

Cool and pour liquid into a clean feeder.

Clean and refill feeders every day or two to keep your garden visitors healthy and happy.
 
Multiple feeders placed around your yard can foil bullies from taking over.
 

Moving water

If you’ve ever been visited by a hummer while watering the garden, you know that the birds are attracted to moving water. 

This is a tough call, since water is a scarcity in some regions and you certainly wouldn’t want to be just running a fountain for the birdies. 

Use your best judgment on whether this makes sense in your yard. 

hummingbird nest with two white eggs

Encourage nesting hummingbirds

Provide shrubs or small trees with stiff branches where hummingbirds can attach their adorably tiny nests. 

And don’t knock down all of the spider webs that annoy you. Hummingbirds use spider silk as one of the primary materials to make their nests and to attach their nests to branches. 

Plant flowers that attract hummingbirds

Hummingbirds need to eat every 10 to 15 minutes; in that time they’ll visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers per day

Tubular flowers are especially attractive to hummingbirds, but they will visit other brightly colored flowers as well. Here are three plants that will attract hummingbirds to your garden.

red trumpet vine

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet vines, also known as hummingbird vines, get their name from the clusters of long, tube-like flowers they produce. Typically, the blooms are reddish-orange in color, although there is also a yellow trumpet vine cultivar available.

Keep in mind, though, red is the color that entices hummingbirds the most. For the sake of attracting them to your garden or property, the common red-orange bloom is really the ideal choice.

Be mindful that trumpet vines can be a bit aggressive in the garden. If you have a large yard, trumpet vine can be planted on edge of your property or along a fence line. Like any other vine, this species of plant loves to climb and branch out.

pink bee balm flowers

Bee Balm

As the name suggests, bees are very attracted to bee balm’s unique, firework-like blooms. But, hummingbirds and butterflies can’t get enough of them either! It’s actually a wonderful option for your garden, attracting a variety of helpful pollinators to the area.

An early-summer bloomer, this plant’s colors range from shades of white to pink to red to purple. Pollinator-attracting flowers (like this one) have gained massive popularity in recent years, and a variety of new cultivars continue to pop up as a result. Not only does this provide gardeners with pretty new colors of bee balm, it’s also improved the plant’s resistance to disease, as well as made bee balm more manageable in size and scale.

pink phlox flowers

Phlox

While there are many varieties of phlox available, hummingbirds are attracted to whatever variety you ultimately decide to plant. Phlox is well-known for producing large amounts of nectar, especially useful for hummingbirds and their very active metabolism.

Phlox plants reach varying heights. So, this is something to consider before planting. Smaller varieties grow between 1 to 2 feet. If you plan on planting a taller species of phlox in the garden, try situating it towards the back border so they don’t hide smaller plants from view when they reach maturity.

These are just a few plants to choose to attract hummingbirds to your outside oasis. If you’re trying to attract hummingbirds, you can’t go wrong planting lots of flowers and blooming shrubs to keep those little birds fed!

The brighter the better, and red in particular seems to attract these zooming birds. 

Be patient! It won’t happen overnight. But, once these adorable little birds find your garden, chances are good they’ll keep coming back for more!

hummingbird feeder

How to Make Hummingbird Food

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Make an easy hummingbird food to attract these pretty birds to your yard or garden.

Materials

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water

Tools

  • Hummingbird feeder

Instructions

  1. Add one cup sugar to four cups boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Cool and pour liquid into a clean feeder.

Notes

This recipe is made with a ratio of 1:4. In this case, I'm using measurements of 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water, but you can use the amounts you need to fill your feeder. Don't make more than you can use up within 2-3 days. These little buzzers like fresh food!

Do not add red food dye to the mixture.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle. She's a certified Master Food Preserver and longtime gardener who loves to turn the harvest into pantry staples.

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