How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden 

 Originally Written: April 4, 2017

By  Hanna Trafford

These little creatures were first discovered by Spanish explorers who called them “joyas voladoras” – translation: “flying jewels”. They are really something else – beautiful to watch and admire. But they are a whole lot more than just one of nature’s wonders. Their physical capabilities are truly amazing. They can migrate at least 2000 miles from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds. And can you believe that hummingbird can actually cross the Gulf of Mexico? If you think about it, it is astounding, that something that small can actually fly 500 miles without rest.

Here are a few interesting facts about these beautiful birds and some of their most common species:

  • If you were to compare hummingbird’s energy to humans, you would learn that a hovering hummingbird has an energy output per unit weight ten times that of a person running 9 miles per hour. If a person was to do the same amount of work per unit of weight, he or she would expend 40 horsepower.
  • Hummingbirds are like bees – they carry pollen from one plant to another while they are feeding. And one single bird can visit 1000 – 2000 blossoms in a day.

Here are some the most common species:


Allen’s Hummingbird



Berylline Hummingbird
Black Chinned Hummingbird
Blue Throated Hummingbird
Board Billed Hummingbird
Broad Tailed Hummingbird
Buff Bellied Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird
Lucifer Hummingbird


How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden:

All you have to do is to remember that hummingbirds will stop to drink, so by providing plants rich in nectar, plus a source of shade and water, you will witness hummingbirds hovering around your garden regularly.

While they are mostly attracted to tubular blooms. they also love orange, pink and yellow blooms. And single blooms will provide easier access to the nectar than multiple blooms.

Hummingbirds are not continuously flying – they like to rest as well, so shrubs and trees will give them a place to rest as well as to nest.

They need eight times their body weight in water on daily basis, so a small garden fountain with a small spray nozzle of a dripper near your flower bed will attract them.

They are also very territorial – while the male establishes the territory first, females will chase intruders away from their plants or feeders. Remembering that, you should plant your hummingbird-attracting plants in various parts of your garden to allow the birds their own spaces.

You can fill a feeder with simple sugar syrup – but never use honey, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners or food colourings. To mix your own syrup, mix one-quarter to one-third cup of granulated sugar with one cup of water. Bring to boil and let cool before filling your feeder. The more feeders you provide, the happier hummingbirds will be!

You can learn about Hummingbirds here.

I’ll be looking forward to your feedback – it is always very much welcomed and appreciated!

Anna’s Hummingbird


Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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  • Actually i live north of Tampa and i have seen hummingbirds lately in my yard..they love my orange petunias..but mine are not ruby throats..they’re green and dark bluish purple

  • I live in Canada & have been feeding hummingbirds for the past 30 yrs. They arrive the second week of May every Spring, so I always make sure I am ready. I wish I had a way of knowing if they are the same birds every year, returning. The most I have had is 4 at one time. They are the most entertaining birds I have ever come across, and I can sit for hours watching them. Especially when the male is trying to impress the female. They are also very intelligent. I have actually had a female hover a few inches in front of me or at my kitchen window if the feeder is empty, which doesn’t happen often. They are territorial with their feeders so I hang about 4/5 in different areas of my yard. I have yet been able to find a solution as to how to avoid the ants invading the feeders though. Any suggestions?

  • I’ve always loved hummingbirds so 2 years ago I purchased a beautiful feeder at a lawn & garden show. I didn’t attract any hummingbirds what I attracted were BEES! Swarms of bees…the feeder was covered.

    What’s the secret to getting hummingbirds and not bees, lol?

    • Hi Deb,
      I’m in Canada & get wasps/hornets too.
      I hang a glass wasp bottle with the mixture, water & sugar to attract them. It has a hole in the bottom of it. Once they fly in they can’t get out. Also, don’t put it too close to the bird feeder. Keep it clean as well & make sure you keep the water level up so they keep coming back.
      Good luck!

  • We have had several Hummers for several years. They are amazing and become very unafraid if you are out working in your flower beds and they want to drink from the feeders. Had one fly up to only 1 foot away when I came home one day wearing a bright red shirt. Was so neat! Within the next few years, we will be moving into a small nearby town. One of my regrets is leaving my Hummers and one of my fears is that none will come to my yard in town. Will try many of the suggestions listed in these comments. Thanks everyone!

  • My little hummers will be here soon. In northern Arizona it is roughly the first weeks to the end of April depending on the an early or late spring. With 2 larger feeders I usually get 15 or more of them. They live in the low mountain junipers here. I put out everything that they like that I can grow in the high desert. It can get quite busy on the back patio. There are 3 kinds – Anna’s and I am not sure of the others but are not Rufus. Many of our neighbors feed them also. They stay until October and then they fly south for the winter. I can’t wait till they are here.

  • What is the smallest hummingbird you know of? 2 years ago in my flower bed, I found…sitting on a slab rock, a tiny little ,I believe it was a humming bird. It was only about an inch long. The little guy stuck around while I watched for about a half hour and then buzzed off. Wished I had have thought to take a picture. How big are babies before they leave the nest? Btw… I don’t have feeders here but I have had humming birds for about the last 3 summers. I’m actually a little nervous of them as they get very close (almost collided a few times) when I hang out laundry

  • Last summer we had a humming bird fly inside the house!!!! We liked to never got it out. The poor thing kept flying up and wouldn’t fly low enough to go back out the door.I had the ceiling fan on and had to quickly turn it off. It flew around like crazy,but would rest on the ceiling fan blades after we turned it off. Thank goodness we were able to finally get it out the door safely. We had a lot of action going on here for about 30 min.

  • I love hummingbirds . . . Last year I had only about 4 or 5 though & a couple of years ago at least 9 or so !
    I talked to an ornithologist, he said that the red dye damages the babies beeks, so they can’t drink.
    I use 2 cups of sugar to 8 cups of water also & I just get the water hot enough to melt the sugar & stir well. Then put in a glass pitcher in the fridge. I clean & refill their feeders about every three days. They love it cold, in the hot summer. The glass pitcher, is to keep the hot water from leeching plastics into it from a plastic pitcher.
    They also love all the woods for protection. I place their feeders in where, there is shade most of the day, so their water does not get too hot, from the glass in the sun all day. They are so entertaining & beautiful !
    Thank you for all the info & links, the more we know the better for these little beauties !!!

  • I live of the west coast of Canada (the Vancouver area). Several hummingbirds visit my perennial garden each summer. their favourite flowers are Crocosmia Lucifer and Bee Balm. My neighbours were so envious of their visits that I offered to share some Crocosmia bulbs with them. This has alleviated the problems with their territorial nature significantly. When I put out a feeder, they do not use it. I can hear them in the area when they arrive after winter but they wait until their favorite flowers bloom before they feed in my yard.

  • We have many humming birds visiting here in my Nova Scotian Home. they seem to love my hydrangea and Lilac Bush. I have also planted various wild mixtures they seem to love. They will come right up to the windows and hover staring in at us they seem very tame. Can not wait till the winter is over love watching these amazing little birds. My parents have a problem with hornets chasing the humming birds away from their feeders.

    • Hi Angela,
      I’m in Ontario & have the same problem with the hornets/wasps.
      I hang a wasp trap, which is a glass jar that has a hole in the bottom. I pour a mixture of sugar & water, just enough to attract them. Once they fly in they can’t get out. I works pretty good and I keep it away from the bird feeders. Worth a try.

  • Does anyone know what you aren’t supposed to use food coloring in the food? Is the premixed food you get from Lowe’s harmful since it has red coloring added to it? Thank you.

  • Hi there. I adore these birds. They usually arrive in middle tennessee at Easter. At least the last 4 years. I have at least a hundred. I have a 42 ft front porch and after hatch when the babies get out u can’t sit on the porch. They are so busy feeding. Of course I have 15 feeders. I’m in love with them

  • I have trouble with aggressive wasps, hornets, etc. at the feeders, they will chase the birds away. Is there anything I can do about it?

    • Some people say that a feeder without the little nozzles helps. These are feeders that have a hole in the dispenser, hummingbirds will get their beek in but bees and wasps can’t/ Maybe that will work for you – let me know!

  • This past year I saw 2 hummingbirds in my yard and it was so amazing! One flew right up to me about 3 feet away, hovered and starred me in the eye and then flew away. It was crazy! I love all these tips to help atract them more! I would love to see them more often! Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks so much! I love all your picutres and the one with the hummingbird is absolutely beautiful! I haven’t seen climbing bleeding hearts in this are, but do have the usual plant – I will move it closer to the hunnimgbird feeder in the spring!

    • koolbeanzzzz,
      Great picture. We used to have alot of bleeding hearts in the side yard when I was a kid, but never noticed if the attracted any humming birds. My dad has different colors of trumpet vines and Angel Trumpets along with miliions of other flowers in his yard surrounding the pool. The trumpets seem to be the favorites. We are always being buzzed by the hummers, especially if someone is wearing a flowered shirt.

  • I love the hummers too. Last year we had 4 or 5. The year before we had 8 or more. I use several feeders. I hang one in front of the front door on the porch so I can still see them if I am inside. I have had them come right up to the storm door to let me know their feeder was empty. I did not know that about the water but I do have a small pond so I guess they get water from there. I have read that praying mantis will eat them so keep an eye out for them near your feeders.

  • I love these little bird. I tried for almost eight years to get them to my yard and this last summer they came. Not a lot but enough for me and my guest to sit on my front porch and enjoy them. I’m hoping I get more of these little creatures this summer.

  • I live south of Merritt Island in Palm Bay and I have been attracting hummingbirds for several years now. I have a pretty big garden and the plants the hummingbirds like best are:firespike, porterweed, crossvine, clerodendrum and firebush. Most are native plants. I do not use a sugar feeder.I have a pair of hummingbirds here every day from July-August through Jan -February. Don’t see them spring and early summer so I assume they are migratory. I believe you really need to put in the plants they like if you really want to see them.

  • Hello from West Palm Beach Florida!!! Believe it or not I have Hummingbirds here in my back yard. They seem to stay most of the season from late October till about May. I almost fainted when I first saw them. I have a huge fire bush and also I was growing Strawberries in a bright red hanging basket. They would frequently breeze by that to check it out. I went out right away and bought three feeders and they seem to always go to the bush first and then hit the feeders! I feel lucky to have them here and enjoy them everyday.

  • Found you via Pinterest- we get little ruby-throat hummers at our balcony feeder (we live in an apartment!) I wanted to chip in that the water source is really key if you’re trying to attract them- it didn’t even occur to us to get a hummingbird feeder until we saw one stop to drink from a hanging candleholder that had filled with rainwater. Then I was like OMG HUMMINGBIRD (because I’d never seen one in real life before) and went IMMEDIATELY to the Home Depot to buy a feeder.

    Also I’ve found if you’re having problems with ants- either your feeder doesn’t have a moat or it doesn’t work- try tying a piece of yarn (has to be yarn, not string or ribbon) around whatever the feeder is hanging from and wetting it with a few drops of sewing machine oil or WD-40 (being careful not to get it in the feeder.) The ants won’t cross it, but it doesn’t bother the birds. (Helped with the bee problem too.)

    Great post!!

    • Awesome input Sarah! Thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your experience! I have to admit – I am a bit envious of your little friends 🙂 Maybe next year, I will have more luck than this year.

  • Ok I’m in Texas I had about 7 to 10 that came everyday I will love to have them set on my hand like you. What’s your trick?

    • Oh you are so lucky! I couldn’t get them to come this summer at all – not sure why, the only thing I can think about is that there has been huge amount of construction going on close to our house and it probably scared them away 🙂

  • How do I attract hummingbirds in a barren back yard…we planted Mimosa tree last year but it is only about 6 ft. Tall.

    • Hi Donna! It may be harder, but try putting the feeder as close to the tree as you can and maybe for the time being, put some artificial red flowers below it or close to it. And get a red feeder as well – I do hope that will help! Personally, I didn’t have much luck with attracting them this year – and I don’t know why – I guess they just decided not to show up 🙁

  • I have packs of ruby red throats at my garden every year they arrive May 1st and depart October 1 st my food ratio is 1 cups of sugar to 3 cups of water I’m from Illinois

  • Hi. I just wanted to mention that a guy at the nursery told me you shouldn’t give the hummingbirds sugar water. It’s like junk food to them. They really like it but its like us eating at McDonald’s everyday. They will choose flowers over feeders but if all you have is feeders you should buy the store bought nectar. It contains nutrients and electrolytes that they need, not just refined sugar.

    • Thanks for your message Ann – it does sound logical and I guess it would depend just how much sugar you use. I spoke to a guy at Canada Blooms show who had a display specifically for hummingbirds – he cautioned about store bought nectar because of chemicals it contains as well as quite a bit of sugar. I would just watch the ingredients (if they are listed) when buying ready to serve nectar.

  • Hi, I love attracting hummingbirds to my deck. I usually have many flowers that draw them but this year I bought artificial flowers, so I bought some hummingbird feeders. I noticed that they use the small ones with only one small opening the most. The larger feeders with 4 openings do not seem to attract them. Do you know why that may be?

    • Hi Diana! I am guessing they have a protective sense – one opening only is small and there is probably less chances of predators coming close.It is only a guess and I am totally without hummingbirds this year – no idea why other than I have seen too many other species of birds around. Sometimes you just don’t know what these little guys are thinking 🙂

    • Hi Shirley! The advice not to use food coloring is mainly because it is not needed and it is not really good for them. If you have a nice red feeder, it will attract them same as if the nectar was colored. – Thanks for your message!

    • I went to a seminar on hummingbirds and the lecturer said red food coloring caused tumors on the tongues of hummers. I’ve never used it since.

  • I just adore these little birds. I have them regularly every year and feel fortunate as I do not put out a feeder but they just come for the few flowers I do have and the fountain in the front.

    I felt really bad last week when I was sitting on my deck and one came and tried to feed on a pink artificial hanging plant… it has little lights in it and it looks very real. Poor little guy.

    Maybe this next year I will try a feeder.

  • Thanks for the wonderful website. We live in south Louisiana. We planted a ‘bottle brush’ bush about twenty years ago. The blooms are bright red and look like a brush. It blooms most of the summer. The little hummers love it. I also have feeds.

  • I have hummers who come and call to me if their feeders are empty. I try to be adhead of them but they are so cute. I find they come in early spring and stay all summer. As soon as they arrive they let me know. Love the chirping? sound they make. I made the 1/4 to 1 solution today instead of store bought. Can’t wait to see how they like it. Thanks for all the help.

  • I set out bright/hot pink vinca flowers, and a hummingbird was right there! So fun to watch, and it didn’t care the the dog and I were less than 3 feet away.

  • I heard a tip once about attracting hummingbirds to a new area or feeder by using a sweeter solution (maybe twice as sweet, so 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water) just for the beginning of the season. When they scout out the area, the hummingbirds remember where the best feeding spots are. After you’ve got them coming back regularly, you can adjust the solution down to a normal proportion. I haven’t tried this myself, but I’m curious if anyone else had heard this or tried it, and if they’ve had any success.

  • I am glad you added the NO FOOD COLORING. People do not know that color softens the shell on the eggs and they lose babies….!

  • Hi
    I love reading about your insight!
    Do you know anything about their nesting area, where and how there nest are made and picture of it?

    Some people were able to hold the hummingbird, how?

    If you can email me back with title Hummingbird.

    Thank you

    • Hi Crystal! I love those little beauties as well and I am currently working on research so that I can do another write up about them. Planning to post it mid this week – hope you will visit the site and get lots of answers you are looking for. If there is anything else you need to know, please stay in touch! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I live in West Fargo and one of the streets i live on is fairly busy. I can’t seem to ever get hummingbirds here. I have tried the feeders and i have planted plants but i can’t get them to come.

    • Hi Jodie! It may be that the area you live in is too busy ,maybe all you can do is try to find the quietest spot possible and also try different feeders,making sure there is lots of red color around as well. Hope it will work for you!

  • Really appreciate the info, wonder why the little guys that visit me in So. GA will only drink from the feeders that are red or have the nectar colored red— seems I read somewhere that the dye really isn’t’t good for them.

    • I found out from quite a few experts that the red dye is not good for the little guys – and it really isn’t needed – all you have to do is have a red feeder. They are attracted to red colour so you can be sure they will appreciate it! Enjoy – they really are great to have visit

  • what time of the spring do the little hummers start arriving in northern Ohio…and what flowers are their favorites… i had 3 little hummers last year…but i love watching those little miracles…

  • I love the forum here. We just moved into a condo in a quiet part of Downtown Vancouver. I am really hoping we can attract hummingbirds to our large out door deck. How long does it take for hummingbirds to “find” a new feeding area/home?

    • Thanks so much David! I am sure you will love living in downtown Vancouver and I do hope that the little guys will come and visit you. Try to put something red close to the feeders – apparently, hummingbirds are attracted to red colour (that’s why most feeders are red) Even a ribbon or a large red flower attached to the feeder will increase the possibility of their visits. I can’t tell you how long it would take – but I can tell you that patience is the key! Let me know on progress! Best wishes from Mama Hanna

    • Hi! That’s a very good question! I don’t think that you need to necessarily try to get rid of them – nature has a tendency to take care of itself. It may depend on where you feeders are – if they are in a spot where the only sweet thing is the nectar – that would get the bee’s attention. Maybe you can either move the feeders or plant some flowers that bloom well NEAR BY – they should attract the bees. Other than that – even though the hummingbirds are little – they are still bigger than bees!

    • Here’s something crazy that worked for us in getting bees off the feeder: rub the feeder with Vick’s Vapor Rub. Bees don’t like the smell, the hummingbirds didn’t care. We were careful to avoid the small holes where the birds drink from. Worked great!

    • Lynne, we had bees at the feeder last year. Read somewhere to hang a second one for them with slightly more sugar than the first. That seemed to help and then the sage bushes bloomed and off they went. I often find what looks like the “stingers” stuck in a nozzle. Now I know the bees don’t sting it, but always wonder what the hummers stuck in there….

  • my father in law has a lot of humming birds in his yard and has a feeder with food and water for them.. and they know him and if they don’t have water they fly around him and fly back to the feeder telling him to hook up the water because they’re thirsty! isn’t that funny?
    the humming birds love him and know he’s the provider. i think that’s so cute 🙂
    im going to try to make my yard humming bird friendly but i have so many rodents around here i get scared to welcome them instead. i have two avocado trees so they love my house! we have squirrels, raccoons, and even mice in our neighborhood because of a river near by. i need to find a way to get rid of them!

    • Hello Elizabeth! Thanks for your message and I hope you will have a lot of success with getting those pretty little guys to be your friends. Please take pictures – it would be great to hear back from you!

    • Why do people want to “get rid of” squirrels, raccoons etc? I hate that terminology. They have as much right to live out their God given little lives as any other creature. I find some peoples claims to have love for animals quite disingenuous.

  • I have read that if you water your plants at the same time every day they will land on your hand to feel the sprinkle from the hose. I always have hundreds of hummingbirds in my yard, I have four feeders and mix I cup of sugar to four cups of water bring it to a boil let cool and add to feeders, they are usually waiting on me when I go back out.

    • Donna,
      I find if I’m out watering, that is when the hummers often come to the feeder. Awesome that they land on your hand and that you have hundreds. What area do you live in? I find they’ll come close, but haven’t had any come to the sprinkler.

      • Thanks for all your comments Page! I have one more thing to add: I found a hummingbird feeder at Canada Blooms show that doesn’t have nozzles – it has inverted little holes – supposed to keep bees and wasps away because they can’t get at the nectar and apparently the hummingbirds like it, because they get their beaks into the openings without a problem – I am just putting it up and will let you all know how it works.

        • My hummingbird feeder is overrun with bees and wasps. They climb all the way inside it to get at the syrup. I haven’t seen the hummingbird there in a few days. The sugar water absolutely disappears overnight with all the bees. I will try to find a feeder that you described. Thanks so much. I have been wondering what I could do.

    • I have one feeder with yellow and red flowers and a rest stand, I got at Wal-mart. I also use 1/4 cup sugar to ont cup water. I got the idea from Animal Planet.I live in a condo association and two of my neighbors also
      have feeders. We have cold weather and keep the bird near so they don’t have to make the long trip,keep the feeders full and they will not go south.

  • I love hummingbirds, my mother always had a feeder for them and I recently found myself with these beauties in my yard. I have a feeder and in the spring and summer trumpet flowers, lavender, and many other blooms for them to drink from. My question is this…in your article, you mentioned NOT to use food coloring…what do you use to color the water to attract them to feed? I only want to do the best for them. And how do I get close enough to photograph them close up and even better, land in my hand? Thank yo in advance for your help….

    • Hello Vicki! First – to answer your question: I understand that it is best to not use food colouring – just sugar water will be attracting them. If you choose a feeder that is red, it will do the same trick – or you can just tie a red ribbon around a feeder if you already have one that isn’t red. As to how to get them to feed from your hand: apparently it just takes a bit of patience – once they are used to coming to feed from your bird feeder, they will be more open to feeding from your hand. Personally – I have not been successful doing this – just don’t have enough patience I guess. Maybe this short video I found on YouTube will help you:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT0hFXblpaM
      Good luck and let me know how you are doing!

      • Raspberries are a natural way to color (and slightly sweeten) water. If you really want the water red (because you have a clear feeder) you can leave some raspberries in water for a few hours or overnight (we buy frozen berries for smoothies) and the water will turn red. VERY red if you use frozen berries. Strain the raspberry water to get out the berry pulp then add sugar, boil, cool & fill the feeder.

        (My son LOVES to drink raspberry water (without added sugar) and since I can’t have sucralose I drink this in place of store bought flavored water.)

  • I live in FL in tampa and now in merritt island and have tried several suggestions from others and have never had any luck with them, I love them and want them and they seem to avoid me :_-(

    • Hi Sharon! Apparently only ruby-throated hummingbirds are seen in Florida – for some reason, the others do not like it there 🙂 The suggestion is to make sure you have red flowers and try putting out several feeders with sugar water. Maybe it will work! I would love to know if you were successful and now you don’t have to think that it is you they don’t like! Thanks so much for your comment and love to hear from you again!

      • We put out & keep our feeders full at all times with sugar water we make yourself. We believe if you let them run out they will go else where they can eat. I always clean my feeders with a little purex & hot water using an old toothbrush to scrub them each time they are filled. I never use soap. We make extra water for them & keep in our refrigerator waiting for a feeder to look low of water. Our feeders are placed on the west side of our house under the edge of our porch. We see more hummers when it rains. We have red craple myrtles in our yard…they really love red. We have had them come on our porch hanging around anything with red. I have a large windmill made of bicycle rims painted red white & blue…they love it…just put out anything RED to attract them.

    • I know this was a while back, but I thought I’d let you know that Pentas(Red) and Firebush are a sure fire way to attract Hummingbirds. We live in Mount Dora, but these plants will work for you. They should come back every year. My mom planted Pentas just last summer and now we have Hummingbirds everywhere! I am planting a whole bunch of Pentas and Firebush all over my yard next week. Can’t wait to have my own!!! Just make sure you plant some near some shady spots too, and have bird baths around also. Good Luck!

          • I think I posted in the wrong place. I have 4 feeders and boil 2 cups of sugar with 8 cups of water everyday. They must have their nests very close to my yard because they are all there all day. As many as 15 at a time. They love when I water the grass, I play with them in the water for 20 min or so, they love it. Then after that play I have an amazing frenzy at the feeders.

      • I live in Maryland and our hummers LOVE Salvia ‘Black and Blue’. The flowers are trumpeted and a vivid blue color. I’ve had multiple hummers visiting this plant that gets around 4 feet tall by late summer.

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