A guide to the bright, colorful, tubular flowers that hummingbirds love

Hummingbirds might be tiny, but they have hearty appetites and get their fill from a myriad of common garden species. In fact, it is thought that many plants, particularly narrow and tubular varieties, have evolved over time to accommodate their long, slender bills. "Some flowers are so narrow, they can only be pollinated by hummingbirds!" says Paddy Cunningham, birding expert at Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If you have been trying to lure these birds into your garden without much success, you may be wondering which flowers attract hummingbirds. According to George Pisegna, deputy director and chief of horticulture at The Horticultural Society of New York in Manhattan, you must have some trees, shrubs, or vines nearby to create shelter and a sense of security. "The garden needs to have enough open space for the hummingbird to navigate from flower to flower, have brightly colored flowers (particularly red) that are tubular, and water, as hummingbirds love a gentle, continuous spray," he says.

orange daylily
Credit: Oksana Akhtanina / Getty Images


This bold and colorful flower is known for its trumpet-like shape, which comes in handy for hummingbirds as it allows them to reach the inside nectar more easily. This flower thrives in spring and fall, according to Lester Poole, Lowe's live nursery expert, and grows best in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sunlight.

  • Trumpet-like shape
  • Spring and fall bloom time
  • Thrives in zones 3 through 9
red columbine
Credit: Johnnieshin / Getty Images


"This perennial is a cheerful plant with clover-shaped foliage and thin, airy, tubular stems," says Valerie Ghitelman, vice president of product development and design at 1-800-Flowers.com. "Its flowers bloom in a wide range of colors such as red, yellow, white, blue, lavender, pink, and salmon." Hummingbirds tend to love columbines because they stick around—they're drought-resistant and don't require much water.

  • Perennial flower
  • Lots of floral colorways, including red, yellow, white, blue, lavender, pink, and salmon
  • Drought-resistant
  • Thrives in zones 3 through 8
scarlet sage
Credit: LianeM / Getty Images


You're probably most familiar with this plant—which grows as a hardy perennial in zones 5 to 8 and an annual in more humid climates (like zones 9 and 10)—for its use in the kitchen. Its family contains mints, basil, and salvias in a tremendous array of sizes and colors. "All provide long-lasting nectar sources, and by staggering the annual forms and the perennial forms, you can have season-long nectar sources," says Poole. "Pineapple sage is a super source for hummingbirds, with large quantities of scarlet, tube-like blossoms throughout the summer and fall."

  • Sage family includes mint, basil, and salvia
  • Hummingbirds prefer pineapple sage, which has scarlet flowers
  • Thrives as a perennial in zones 5 through 8
  • Can be grown as annuals in zones 9 and 10
pink yellow and orange lantana
Credit: stockcam / Getty Images


Another flower that attracts hummingbirds is the tubular lantana, which comes in a variety of colors—most often yellow and purple. Because they are not likely to be grazed upon, they are left untouched for the hummingbird; they come back year after year in zones 7 and above (in cooler regions, they're a one-and-done plant). "Lantanas are not only a three-toned showstopper, they're able to survive periods of limited water supply, making them extremely easy to care for," says Poole. "Lantanas are best suited for planting in warmer climates, as they grow best in hot, dry weather with a minimum of six hours of direct sun."

  • Easy to grow and maintain
  • Yellow-and-purple colorways
  • Tri-colored petals
  • Deer- and drought-resistant
  • Thrives as a perennial in zones 7 and above
  • Can be grown as an annual in cooler zones
orange honeysuckle
Credit: Alan Lagadu / Getty Images


Also a tubular flower, honeysuckle is a hummingbird magnet for its sweet nectar, as the name of this vining bloom suggests. "Hummingbirds adore these open-mouthed florals and are even more attracted to their bright red-toned petals, which flower on and off throughout the year," says Poole. "These flowers prefer full, direct sun and grow extremely fast."

  • Tubular flower that grows quickly on vines
  • Bright red petals that flower throughout the year
  • Prefers full sun
  • Thrives in zones 5 through 9
red pentas
Credit: viktor2013 / Getty Images


These gorgeous bedding plants love the heat and are fairly inexpensive, but can produce numerous flowers in a variety of colors and sizes for a few years, says Cunningham. "Pentas have almost continuous blooms and can be used to edge beds in the smaller varieties or small bushes in the larger varieties," she says. "They can also be put into pots and hanging baskets for balconies and porches to attract hummingbirds."

  • Bedding plant that comes in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Produces continuous blooms
  • Best for border gardens and edge beds
  • Can be grown in pots, baskets, and containers
  • Thrives in zones 10 and 11

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
May 25, 2020
Would have been great if you added pictures of the plants.
Martha Stewart Member
May 25, 2020
Can you suggests plants and flowers that grow well in warmer climates such as South Florida?