Attracting Hummingbirds to the Garden

Tips to attract hummingbirds to your garden or yard: plants, how to attract to a feeder. This how to will also work for butterflies.

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Interested in attracting hummingbirds to the garden?

Hummingbirds are a unique and interesting bird. They can fly by so fast that you miss them. It’s likely that their elusive nature is what attracts us to them.

Last year I grew what I called an “intentional garden”. I set a goal, a theme, made a plan, followed it, and I got exactly what I wanted. This was a garden victory. Read more about that here.

Hummingbird
Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

This year I am tweaking my plans a bit but keeping the intention intact. That intention was to attract as many hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and toads as I could to a garden with lots of flowers for cutting.

February has not dampened my excitement. I can’t wait for warmer weather to come.

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Understanding hummingbirds in order to attract them to your garden

When I put out my first hummingbird feeder, I didn’t expect much. I had never seen them around. How could they see that tiny, fake red flower on that feeder?

And then they came. They came in droves, fighting for position on the feeder. At times there were 7-8 birds diving and buzzing around. I’m out there with my iPhone like some crazy garden lady, laughing and filming.

I wanted to know things about these birds and we discussed it at the dinner table that night. Everyone has an opinion around here but no one knew the answers to my questions. Not even the “know-it-alls”.

Where do hummingbirds go at night? Do they sleep? Do they nest? Where do they go in the winter?

I had questions, so we googled it.

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Garden Research

It’s always good to research your topic. I read a ton of articles on hummingbirds, everything you ever wanted to know. I’m going to summarize the coolest facts for you.

Yes, hummingbirds sleep at night. They actually go into something like a coma. Their heart rates slow and they become hypothermic, meaning their body temperature drops. Their muscles lock and they are attached to a tree limb. It’s called torpor

Once the sun rises, they start to warm up and come alive again. If you find one on the ground, let it warm up. It’s most likely sleeping!

Hummingbirds do nest, they lay 2 eggs that are the size of peas. I think that is just the cutest thing ever.

In the fall they begin their migration to Mexico and the Tropics. There are hummingbirds that fly from as far north as Alaska and Canada. Once they reach the Gulf of Mexico, there is a 500-mile stretch of water to cross.

This is natural selection for hummingbirds as a lot of them don’t make it across. So sad. But the ones that do get to mate and start their family. Once Spring approaches they will begin the journey north again.

Hummingbird on purple flowers
Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Migrating north in the Spring

I noticed it pretty abruptly when the hummingbirds left the garden. I watched them from my office window every day through the spring and summer.

However, with the approach of spring, the hummingbirds will return. I found the dates online of their expected return in North America.

Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida – March 1st

East Texas, Louisiana, South Alabama, South Mississippi, South Georgia, & Florida – March 15

Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Georgia, North Alabama, North Mississippi, North and South Carolinas – April 1st

Midwest states, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginias – April 15

Northern Midwest states, Iowa, Southern Minnesota, Michigan, New England, s – May 1st

Minnesota, Northern Michigan, Southern Canada – May 30th

Preparing for the hummingbirds return to the garden

I’ve got about a month to go before their expected return to my area. I’ve brought the feeders in and washed them. When it’s closer to time I will make hummingbird food.

Make this yourself for your hummingbirds. The red liquid sold in stores isn’t healthy for them. This is an easy DIY. In a saucepan over med-high heat mix 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved and boiling. Boil for 5 minutes to sterilize and take it off the heat to cool.

There you go. They love it. I still don’t know how they see that tiny flower. But now that they know it’s there, they will always come back. Sometimes they buzz around my head in the garden to let me know it’s empty.

I read that about them in my research. They have memories. They also have the most developed brain of any bird. Pretty stinking cool.

Hummingbird approaching feeder
Photo by Tracey Deleon on Unsplash

Attracting hummingbirds to the garden

Create a place that is friendly to them. Lots of flowers and protection from predators. I had lots of zinnias and dahlias growing last year and they would just dive right into those flowers.

I also had two feeders that weren’t in sight of each other. Things get dramatic at the feeder when a dominant bird wants to scare everyone away. Keep the feeders apart a ways.

We have big trees nearby for them to hide in when a hawk comes gliding over.

I hope you’ll put out a feeder and plant some flowers and hummingbirds find your garden. It has provided me so much joy and entertainment watching these amazing little birds.

They will fly very close to you as if to check you out and make a judgement.

My feeder, sorry for the grainy photo

Thank you for reading Attracting Hummingbirds to the Garden. I hope you will read my other gardening articles with other helpful tips.

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12 thoughts on “Attracting Hummingbirds to the Garden

  1. I have a covered front porch that I want to hang a flower pot from to attract hummingbirds. Do zinnias or dahlias do well hanging? I know I’ve seen trumpet shaped flowers that dangle over the sides of a hanging pot. I need to do some research before April apparently!

    1. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t do well in a basket. Mine grew to 4-6 foot tall last year. They can be leggy. For a hanging basket, use petunias. They will cascade down and they are the perfect shape. The hummingbirds will dive right in. Impatiens will also do the same, but they don’t have that alluring trumpet flower. Mandevilla is a vine with a trumpet flower that will cover a wall in one season if space is an issue. Let me know how you fare!

  2. Oh, I loved this post! I’ve been wanting to start a garden and I adore hummingbirds, so this is something I’ll definitely have to look further into! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks Zuri! It’s so easy to hang that little feeder out there. Somehow they find it. I never, ever saw hummingbirds until I put that feeder out on a hook. Suddenly there are enough of them to require two feeders. They are amazing little birds that have no fear. They will come right up to you and check you out. I hope you’ll try it this year.

  3. Oh wow! I love these little guys they’re such an industrious little bird. We don’t have them here In the UK although I’ve encountered one inquisitive soul whilst visiting a butterfly park here & I was totally captivated by it! Enjoy the birds & your garden!

    1. They really are something! I’m sorry you don’t have them there, what a shame. I’ll be posting pictures of them all summer long. New camera and tripod with remote. I will catch them!

  4. My grandma always had hummingbirds around her home! I would love to make some of the food you mentioned and see what happens! My daughter would love to see some of these adorable birdies!

    1. I never saw one in my entire life. Then I put out a feeder and suddenly 5-6 hummingbirds fighting for position. I guess they are around but we never see them! Now I am the crazy bird lady always trying to catch them with the camera! You should put a feeder out this year! Thanks for visiting!

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