Hummingbirds are wonderful birds to watch. They’re smart, they’re playful, and they’re fairly easy to attract to your yard. While they are not, and should never be, pets in the traditional sense, they’re great to have as backyard pets. The kind that are free to come and go as they please.
How to Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds require a few basics to enjoy living in and around your backyard. First and foremost, they require nectar, whether that comes from flowers and shrubs in your backyard landscape of from hummingbird feeders you regular fill with sugar water, these little guys eat about half their weight in sugar every day . . . feeding an average of 5 to 8 times per HOUR. Yeah, per hour.
They also require a place to nest and when you’ve got some tall trees and shrubs nearby, that definitely helps.
We watch the hummingbird migration map (here) and start putting out feeders before we see the hummers getting close.
I suppose we’ve had every type of hummingbird feeder known to man over the years but we tend to like ones that hold a decent amount of our hummingbird mix (at least 2 cups) and feeders that are easy to clean.
We’ve also found glass is better than plastic (though we still use cheaper plastic ones in the mix, too) and that plastic is preferable to metal for the base feeder area.
Picking the Perfect Plants
While there are exhaustive lists of plants that attract hummingbirds, we tend to like perennials (plants that come back on their own year after year) and tend to grab an annual or two from the local garden center each year as well.
When we acquire new plants, we look specifically at their bloom time, their looks, and their ability to attract and sustain our feathered little friends. Here’s a list of what we find to be great for attracting hummingbirds and keeping them happy:
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
We love these bushes because they bloom all summer long and sometimes into fall here in NC. While they’re typically peppered with butterflies all summer long, hummers also enjoy humming around the blooms. Learn more about this plant here at the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Hummingbird Vine (Trumpet Vine)
It grows fast and it’s easy to grow. It also blooms on new wood so you can cut it back without worrying about sacrificing next year’s blooms. Hummers love the orange/red color of the trumpet flowers and it blooms all summer long. You do have to be careful it doesn’t take over your garden, though.
Learn more about trumpet vine.
We also adore petunias and our hummingbird friends seem to love them as well. The bloom time is awesome, but they’re an annual here – though we’ve had a plant or two pop up the next year every now and again.
Learn more about petunias!
Planning Your Entire Garden Area – For more info about planning your entire garden with an eye to attracting hummingbirds, we love this guide from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Hand Feeding Hummingbirds
If you’ve been lucky enough to attract hummingbirds to your backyard and if you have enough patience, you can also ‘train’ them to visit your hand with a hand-held feeder.