Whether you have a balcony or a back yard, it’s easy to incorporate plants that attract hummingbirds. In addition to being beautiful and inspiring to watch, hummingbirds actually provide numerous benefits to your garden. In the process of drinking nectar, they move pollen from flower to flower as they drink, making them excellent pollinators. They also eat a lot more than just nectar, devouring aphids, mosquitoes, and other small garden pests to feed their extra high metabolism.
There are main types of hummingbirds that frequent the Portland area: Annas and the Rufous. Annas are year round residents in our area and make a scratchy, squawky sound—they’re very vocal. The Rufous are known for being territorial and spends summers in the Pacific NW before migrating more than 2,000 miles for the winter. Whichever is visiting your yard, you’ll definitely be hearing them.
5. Fuchsia 'Army Nurse': If you have a part shade to shady location, I would definitely recommend hardy fuchsias. They have flowers in magenta and pink tones, which hummingbirds are strongly attracted to, that hang. The hanging gives them easy access when they are hovering while making it harder on other pollinators like bees or wasps to get to the nectar.
4. Cuphea 'Vermillionaire': Cigar Plant or Firecracker Plant, has cute orange tubular flowers hummingbirds can stick their beak in, open it slightly, and get their tongue all the way to the base of the flower Where the reservoir of nectar is. Most other pollinators aren’t able to reach that, making it a favorite for hummingbirds. This gem will even continue to bloom through the first few light frosts.
3. Agastache: or Hummingbird Mint comes in a gorgeous rainbow of pinks, corals, oranges, and yellows which hummingbirds are drawn to. It’s long blooming with flower stocks that begin flowering at the bottom, and continue to flower up the stock from summer through fall.
2. Monarda 'Balmy': Bee Balm flowers at first glance may look similar to a daisy, but each ‘petal’ is actually a long, tubular flower arranged in a circle which allows hummingbirds to move around a single flower cluster and quickly get a lot of nectar.
1. Salvia: This is the number one plant for hummingbirds. If you just have one of these in your yard, you’re going to see hummingbirds. There are different species of Salvia. Salvia greggii is a species that includes the popular cultivar 'Hot Lips', which has red flowers in the heat of summer that turn red and white bi-color through the rest of the summer. Salvia 'Skyscraper' is an annual in our area filled with stalks lined in red, tubular flowers. Salvia nemorosa 'Mystic Spires' is a tall variety that adds gorgeous purple flower stocks to the garden. If you have the space, planting in tiers creates different levels that give the hummingbirds more space to hover around and collect nectar.
Bonus: Hummingbird Feeders: An excellent supplement to hummingbird-friendly plants is a hummingbird feeder. The nectar made from sugar water is just as healthy for them as the nectar from flowers, and adding a highly visible feeder can attract hummingbirds into your garden that might have otherwise missed your plantings.
You can buy clear hummingbird food or make your own by boiling four parts water to one part sugar. Red dye may be harmful and isn’t necessary since hummingbird feeders have at least some components that are red to attract them.