One of my clients recently requested a garden designed
to attract hummingbirds. The ruby-throated hummingbird nests in our region and
is observed most frequently. Tubular flowers in warm colors are key to
attracting these tiny fliers. Plants that feed hummingbirds have an added
benefit of attracting bees and butterflies, too.
Two of our
native milkweeds, butterfly and pink swamp milkweed, will provide nectar to
hummingbirds and serve as a host plant for monarch, queen and soldier
butterflies. Beachside residents should include salt-tolerant Cherokee bean and
necklace pod in their landscapes, and these interestingly shaped shrubs can be
planted inland as well. If you are looking for an understory tree to add to the
landscape, consider red buckeye, whose spring blooming-red flowers are very
popular with hummingbirds.
Two of our
native vines are attractive to hummingbirds: coral honeysuckle and crossvine.
Vines can be grown on a trellis, fence or tree snag. Landscapes with a pond,
bog or water garden should include cardinal flower, scarlet hibiscus, and swamp
rose mallow for hummingbirds. I created a small bog garden in my backyard, just outside my office window,
so I could have cardinal flower in my landscape. Every day for months while the
bright-red cardinal flowers were
present, hummingbirds would visit the flowers to feed.
popular hummingbird attractor in my yard is firebush. I also love the many
zebra longwing butterflies and gulf fritillary butterflies that nectar on
firebush flowers. The flowers of two of our native azaleas, the Florida flame
and Florida pinxter, attract hummingbirds, too. In early spring when the
azaleas are in bloom, lyreleaf sage appears in my yard, and its pale-purple
flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Throughout the
year, pink and red tropical sage are available to feed pollinators, and add
color to the garden even during winter.
garden with a particular animal visitor in mind is incredibly rewarding when
that species makes its first appearance. It is equally exciting to observe all
of the other critters that benefit from landscapes designed with intention.
Gardeners have an important role to play in creating and restoring habitat for
wildlife, including magnificent hummingbirds. Find nurseries that carry these
and other native plants at PlantRealFlorida.org.
Katie Tripp, Ph.D., is the owner of Natural Beauty
Native Florida Landscapes, LLC. She created her business to educate Floridians
about the importance of utilizing native plants and to help residents create
wildlife habitat. Tripp is the current President of the Pawpaw chapter of the
Florida Native Plant Society and a member of the Florida Association of Native
Nurseries. Connect with her at 727-504-4740 or [email protected].
Native Flowers for Hummingbirds
Common Name Scientific Name
Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias
Cardinal Flower Lobelia
Cherokee Bean Erythrina
Coral Honeysuckle Lonicera
(not north of Volusia County) Hamelia patens
Florida Flame Azalea Rhododendron
Florida Pinxter Azalea Rhododendron
Lyreleaf Sage Salvia
Necklace Pod Sophora
Red Buckeye Aesculus
Scarlet Hibiscus Hibiscus
Swamp Milkweed Asclepias
Swamp Rose Mallow Hibiscus
Tropical Sage – red and pink Salvia coccinea