Top Ten Perennials to Attract Hummingbirds

Top Ten Perennials to Attract Hummingbirds

ARE YOU READY TO ATTRACT HUMMINGBIRDS?

What’s more fun than watching hummingbirds flit from flower to flower? If you love both gardening and bird watching, you’re in luck—you can have both all summer long with these ten perennials to attract hummingbirds! Keep in mind these perennials will not only attract hummingbirds, but they will return year after year to please both you and your pollinator friends. Where we could, we’ve included some additional varieties under each perennial. So, let’s get started with our list of perennials that are sure to attract hummingbirds to your home.

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 some of our favorite varieties: 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. Ruby Star Purple Coneflower was introduced by Jelitto Seeds of Germany—the same folks who brought us Magnus Coneflower. Ruby Star is a bit shorter than Magnus and its flowers are a darker pink. You may also find it by its German name, Rubinstern.

Did you know there are tens of thousands of daylily varieties out there? Below are three of our favorites to use in the garden to attract hummingbirds: Stella de Oro, Pardon Me, and Happy Returns! These cheery perennials are a welcomed sight in any garden, and they really stand out in borders. Hummingbirds won’t be able to 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. Even without the flowers, you”ll love catmint for its velvety soft foliage! Our favorite varieties include Walker’s Low Catmint, Little Titch Catmint, and Purrsian Blue Catmint.

4. BAPTISIA AUSTRALIS (BLUE FALSE INDIGO)

Blue False 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!

Grow a piece of American history! Blue False Indigo was the first subsidized agricultural crop grown on American soil. For a long time, the British obtained dark blue dye from the True Indigo plant, which is a tropical plant that probably originated in India. However, when supplies of True Indigo couldn’t keep up with demand in the 1700s, Colonists looked to the False Blue Indigo plant, which grows wild from Pennsylvania to Georgia and west to what is now Nebraska. False Blue Indigo produces an inferior, lighter blue dye, but it was good enough to make the plant one of the Colonies’ biggest exports in the mid-1700s. In its heyday, over a million pounds were shipped out per year!

5. CROCOSMIA (MONTBRETIA)

Montbretia is a handsome perennial. Lucifer Montbretia, one of our favorite varieties? Devilishly so. 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. It was chosen for its upward-facing flowers, among other things. Montbretia gets its name from a young French botanist, Antoine Francois Coquebert de Montbret. The poor guy didn’t have much of a career though—he died at the tender age of 20.

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’s larger flowered and longer blooming than either its mom or its dad!

7. SALVIA

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 Blue Hill Salvia.

This species of Salvia, or Meadow Sage, is a wildflower that ranges from eastern Europe to western Siberia; it favors cool-summer climates. Meadow Sage grows most abundantly in sunny, dry meadows and forest edges in its homelands. Deer and other browsers avoid it because of the pungent smell of its leaves when crushed; it’s a member of the fragrant Mint family and is long-lived. A great German plant breeder by the name of Ernst Pagels developed Blue Hill Salvia in the late 1950s, selecting it for its rich blue color and compact habit. You may occasionally find this Spirit listed under its original German name, ‘Blauhügel’.

8. PENSTEMON (BEARDTONGUE)

Beardtongue is a real beauty. We’re particularly fond of Husker Red Beardtongue. Hummingbirds love its charming white blooms, which look striking against rich burgundy foliage. A true winner in the landscape—and it’s deer resistant to boot!

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 Kobold Original Blazing Star. All that purple? Yes, please!

Spike Blazing Star is a native wildflower that can be found all over the eastern U.S. from north to south. It usually grows in moist meadows and reaches about 3 or 4 feet tall. The variety of Spike Blazing Star known as Kobold is a German introduction that has been around for quite a while. Kobold is the German world for “Elf” and refers to the selection’s smaller-than-average size, about 2 or 2 ½ feet. This variety is often propagated by seed, which has led to a lot of variation in height. Eventually, growers selected the most compact version they could find (14 in.) and began to propagate it vegetatively, so it would always remain the same. They called it ‘Kobold Original’.

Be sure to check out our Audubon® Native Prairie Blazing Star!

10. HIBISCUS SYRIACUS (HIBISCUS/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. Check out three of this favorite to attract hummingbirds – we think you’ll love it too!: Lady Stanley

Hibiscus syriacus 'Lady Stanley'