We could spend hours in our garden just waiting for and watching hummingbirds come to our yard, as they flit from one flower to the next before moving on with their day. And as we continue to keep our distance from family and friends, hummingbird visitors are even more of a cherished sight!
Here in Iowa, you can find the ruby-throated hummingbird, named for the male’s signature bright red throat. With wings that are capable of flapping up to 80 times per second, these tiny creatures are wonders of our universe. Plus, as they sip sweet nectar from flowers and go onto the next, they move pollen between plants, which is essential for flowering plants to grow and reproduce.
Hummingbirds arrive in Iowa in late April or early May and stick around until the end of September before heading south. Though many types of flowers catch their eyes, hummingbirds are especially attracted to red and pink tubular flowers, which the birds’ long beaks are perfect for reaching into. Other helpful pollinators, like bees and butterflies, are also attracted to some of the same flowers hummingbirds love.
So the birds still have access to food even when plants that attract hummingbirds aren’t blooming in your yard, hang a hummingbird feeder. Put clear nectar in it, and clean the feeder often. Just like with flowers, hummingbirds will be most attracted to feeders with red and pink. At Wallace’s, we sell a number of hummingbird feeders, plus nectar.
Annuals that Attract Hummingbirds
A diverse landscape, with a mix of annuals and perennials that bloom at differing times, is most effective for attracting hummingbirds.
Lobelia: Commonly known as the Cardinal Flower, Lobelia is native to North America. Pollinators like hummingbirds are best adapted to feed on plants native to the area. The red florets bloom in late summer. (Pictured)
Impatiens: Shade-tolerant with long-lasting blooms, impatiens are a classic addition to any garden in any space, from beds to windowsills to hanging baskets. They come in many colors and bloom from spring into fall.
Morning Glory: The bright, trumpet-shaped, and fragrant flowers of Morning Glories are a favorite among hummingbirds. Available in purple, pink, blue, and white, Morning Glory flowers show up mid-summer and open in the morning, often closing later in the day.
Petunia: Petunias do best when in full sun. Petunias are available in a wide range of colors and bloom from spring through fall.
Zinnia: One of the easiest and most low-maintenance annual flowers to grow, Zinnias come in a range of colors and sizes and bloom until fall. Choose a variety with larger flowers that can act as landing pads for pollinators.
Perennials that Attract Hummingbirds
By planting these perennials now, you’ll have one less step in years to come, since they will come back year after year!
Columbine: Native to North America, Columbine is an easy-to-grow perennial that loves partial shade, like the dappled shade under a tree canopy. Its star-shaped, bright red or orange flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. (Pictured)
Bee Balm: Also known as Monarda, Bee Balm attracts more than just bees! Hummingbirds are drawn to their fragrance and spiky magenta petals. Bee Balm blooms in mid- to late summer.
Daylilies: Available in a range of colors and sizes, Daylilies are easy to grow and pest resistant, though they are susceptible to Daylily disease, which is a type of rust. Their cup-like flowers, perfect for pollinators, bloom in spring, summer, or fall depending on the variety.
Cardinal Flower: Tall spikes of bright red flowers attract hummingbirds in mid-Summer. A great medium height plant for a perennial border or around a pond.
Planting flowers with hummingbirds’ preferences in mind means you’ll have a vibrant yard that’s sure to cheer you up any day! Keep some binoculars handy, so you don’t miss a visit from these fascinating pollinators, or any of the other birds that stop by your yard.