Top Ten Perennial Flowers for Hummingbirds
What’s more fun than watching hummingbirds flit from flower to flower? These mighty little birds are a thrill to watch in flight. If you love both gardening and bird watching you can have both all summer long with some thoughtful planting.
How to Attract Hummingbirds
Our recommendation is to plant perennial flowers to attract hummingbirds. Perennial flowers will not only attract hummingbirds, but native perennials will benefit hummingbirds season after season with little maintenance or effort on your part.
Below are some of our picks for the best flowers to benefit hummingbirds. Where possible, we’ve included additional varieties. Creating a bird-friendly backyard requires trees, flowers, and plants that birds like. Hummingbirds are no exception!
1. Echinacea (Coneflower)
Attract Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees who all love coneflowers—and we can’t blame them. These colorful wildflowers light up the landscape with their daisy-like blooms that keep pollinators flying by all season long. Your summer garden isn’t complete without them! Below are pictures of some of our favorite varieties like the Hot Papaya and Tiki Torch Coneflower.
Coneflowers are undergoing a revolution. It all began with the Purple Coneflower, a cherished Wildflower Spirit native to the Midwest, Southeast, and Southern Plains.
This beloved prairie plant was once used medicinally by American Indians, and you will still find it today on drug store and supermarket shelves under its Latin name, Echinacea, as a supplement for treating colds.
2. Hemerocallis (Daylily)
Did you know there are tens of thousands of daylily varieties out there? These plants were first brought to North America by the early European immigrants and had become naturalized by the early 1800s. Over two-hundred years later and you can still spot these glamorous perennials in home garden beds all over the United States.
Here are some of our favorite daylilies to use in the garden to attract hummingbirds:
These cheery perennials are a welcomed sight in any garden, and they really stand out in borders. Hummingbirds just can’t resist these beauties!
3. Nepeta (Catmint)
Catmint is a necessity in any butterfly garden—and hummingbirds love it, too! In late spring, this voracious perennial starts putting out tons of lovely purple-blue blooms, and they’ll last all summer long.
4. Baptisia Australis (Blue Wild Indigo)
Blue Wild Indigo is a hummingbird magnet! It’s also a real people-pleaser, with neat stalks of fragrant purple flowers that are perfect for cutting. And with how many flowers it pushes out during late spring and summer, both you and the hummingbirds will have plenty to enjoy!
Blue Wild Indigo played an important role in American history! It was the first subsidized agricultural crop grown on American soil. When supplies of True Indigo couldn’t keep up with demand in the 1700s, Colonists looked to the Blue Wild Indigo plant, which grows wild from Pennsylvania to Georgia and west to what is now Nebraska. At the height of its popularity, over a million pounds of Wild Indigo were shipped out per year!
5. Crocosmia (Montbretia)
Montbretia is a striking perennial. One of our favorites is the devilishly handsome Lucifer Montbretia. Hummingbirds adore its striking red blooms during summer, and dramatic spikes of foliage add visual appeal during the rest of the year.
Montbretias come to us from South Africa. There aren’t a lot of plants from South Africa’s diverse flora that are often grown in the U.S. The annual Geraniums that you grow outside your door are one exception. Montbretias are another. Lucifer is a hybrid of two species that was bred by the famous English nurseryman, Alan Bloom.
6. Agastache (Hyssop)
Pollinator central! Whether you’re trying to attract hummingbirds, bees, or butterflies, hyssop belongs in your landscape. Blue Fortune Anise Hyssop is one of our favorite varieties, and you’ll know why just by glancing at it. Just look at those tufts of purple-blue blooms!
Blue Fortune Anise Hyssop is a rather cosmopolitan Spirit. It comes to us from the Netherlands, where it was developed by plantsman Gert Fortgens at the famous (in horticultural circles) Arboretum Trompenburg. But the new hybrid plant’s parents didn’t come from Holland. They came from far away and from opposite sides of the globe. One parent, the Anise Hyssop, hails from the Upper Midwest in the U.S. The other parent, Korean Mint, is native not only to Korea, but also to eastern China, Japan, and Vietnam. Put them together, and you have a hybrid Spirit that flowers larger and blooms longer than either its mom or its dad!
As it does with butterflies, salvia excels at attracting hummingbirds. They can’t get enough of its spikes of soothing blue flowers, which hang around for months! As an added bonus, salvia is incredibly easy to grow, so it’s ideal for beginners. One of our favorite varieties is Marcus Salvia.
Marcus Salvia was discovered as a cultivar of S. Nemorosa 'Ostfriesland' in Germany in 1998. This dwarf sage forms perennial clumps that host lavender and purple blue blooms. Salvia is derived from the Latin term salveo, which translates into "to save or heal." This is thought to be attributed to the fact that supposed medical properties.
8. Penstemon (Beard tongue)
Beard tongue is a real beauty. We’re particularly fond of Foxglove Beard Tongue. Hummingbirds love its charming white blooms.. A true winner in the landscape—and it’s deer resistant to boot! Plant these native Spirits next to an outdoor sitting area so that you can enjoy watching the hummingbirds and bees come to feed.
Beard Tongue gets its name from the hairy stamens (male flower parts) inside the blossoms. It is also known as Penstemon. This sturdy species of Beard Tongue, the Foxglove Beard Tongue, grows in sunny, open areas all over the East, Midwest, and Southern Plains.
9. Liatris (Blazing Star)
Dynamite! Blazing star is a knockout with spiky foliage and vibrant clusters of blooms that almost seem to shoot out like fireworks and is known to attract hummingbirds like wild. It’s a must-have for your landscape. There’s nothing quite like it! One of our favorite varieties is Native Prairie Blazing Star. All that purple? Yes, please!
Prairie Blazing Star was once a component of the majestic tallgrass prairie that covered vast portions of our country’s midsection. Its native range extends from Minnesota to Louisiana and encompasses most of the adjacent states along that corridor.
In the wild, Prairie Blazing Star nourishes butterflies and songbirds, along with hummingbirds and many native bees.
10. Hibiscus Syriacus (Hisbiscus/Rose of Sharon)
We’re sure you’re familiar with this one. Hibiscus, also known as Rose of Sharon, adds such a lovely tropical vibe to the landscape, and it looks great on the patio. Hummingbirds are drawn to their flashy blooms, coming and going all summer long.
Hibiscus flowers may be something you associate with a tropical climate, but the Rose of Sharon Tree is a special cold-hardy species of Hibiscus that can be grown where winter temperatures drop to -15°F. Originally from China and India, this plant has been cherished for generations in the U.S. and all over the world.
Perennial Plants to Benefit Birds
Any of the perennials from this list, or other native perennials you might be interested in will do wonders for the natural life around your property. The importance of providing wildlife like hummingbirds and other pollinators with a variety of food sources cannot be overstated. That’s why Bower & Branch is the official partner of Audubon National Bird Society. We have an entire section of our website dedicated to Audubon endorsed native plants because we understand that a garden is more than just its beauty, it’s a home to all kinds of wildlife.
Here’s a quick recap of those perennial best flowers to attract hummingbirds:
- Echinacea (Coneflower)
- Hemerocallis (Daylily)
- Nepeta (Catmint)
- Baptisia Australis (Blue Wild Indigo)
- Crocosmia (Montbretia)
- Agastache (Hyssop)
- Penstemon (Beard tongue)
- Liatris (Blazing Star)
- Hibiscus Syriacus (Hibiscus/Rose of Sharon)