The following content was produced in partnership with White Flower Farm.
When a hummingbird zips into your backyard, it’s a magical moment. Although these tiny birds that fly at high speeds might seem somewhat mysterious to the uninitiated, they’re found all over the U.S. It’s easy to attract hummingbirds to your backyard if you make sure they have a reason to visit you. Knowing the right sugar-water ratio to put in your feeders and what plants hummingbirds love the most are key to attracting hummingbirds. (Read more! 13 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Hummingbirds)
Birds & Blooms has partnered with White Flower Farm to bring you six essential tips for attracting hummingbirds to your backyard, from the perfect sugar-water recipe to the best ways to keep your feeders clean and free of pests. And of course, hummingbird-friendly plants are part of the equation, too! Get a jump-start on your hummingbird garden with the White Flower Farm Annual Hummingbird Collection, a group of six plants that look great in a container and a combination that hummingbirds can’t resist, thanks to the pink, red and coral blooms. Order it here in time for spring!
- photo credit: Jeremy Iwanga/Shutterstock
1. Serve Homemade Sugar Water
Save money and make your own sugar water at home. It’s easy! Combine four parts hot water to one part sugar until the sugar completely dissolves. Once the water has cooled to room temperature, it’s ready for the feeders. Be sure to change out your sugar water every few days, otherwise it will eventually go bad and could harm the hummingbirds stopping by for a snack. If your sugar water is cloudy, it’s time to throw it out.
Two additional tips: Don’t use red dye in your sugar water (it’s harmful for the hummingbirds!) and stick with regular table sugar. Using sweet-alternatives, like honey, does more harm than good.
Read more! Hummingbird Sugar Water 101
- photo credit: Holly Masepohl (B&B reader)
2. Plant Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers
Hummingbirds get a lot of their fuel from nectar-rich flowers, so if you want to boost the amount of hummingbirds visiting your garden, make sure you’re growing the blooms they love the best. They’re primarily drawn to flowers that are red, but most similar shades will work just as well, including pink and coral.
Blooms that are tube-shaped, like trumpet vine and penstemon, are perfect for a hummingbird’s long, thin beak and tongue. Plus, bees and other nectar-loving insects have a more difficult time reaching the deep wells of nectar in tubular blooms—another bonus for hummingbirds.
There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to planting flowers for hummingbirds, but one of the easiest ways to begin is by putting together a hummingbird-friendly container, like the Hummingbird Annual Collection from White Flower Farm.
What we love about this collection is that it’s all annuals! Annuals are perfect for a hummingbird-friendly garden, because they ensure long-blooming flowers that immediately produce nectar, from the time the migratory hummingbirds return north from their tropical winter grounds, until they leave in fall.
Where to buy it: White Flower Farm, $49 for all 6 plants
- photo credit: Maureen Szuniewicz (B&B reader)
3. Keep Bees and Other Pests Away
Hummingbirds aren’t the only ones interested in sweet sugar water. Bees and wasps love it, too! And unfortunately, they can completely overtake a sugar-water feeder. But there are several ways to deter these hungry pests:
- Try nectar guards! Nectar guards are little caps that slide into feeder ports. The center of the tip allows a hummingbird’s beak to pass through, but otherwise stay closed.
- Go red! Hummingbirds love the color red, but bees tend to gravitate towards the color yellow. Choose feeders that are red in color (but be sure to avoid sugar water that is dyed red, which can harm the birds).
- If ants are bugging you, the best defense is an ant moat, which is essentially just a cup of water hanging above your feeder to keep ants from reaching the feeder port. Hanging feeders with fishing line, which is too thin for ants to climb, is another good option.
- photo credit: Roslynn Long (B&B reader)
4. Have Harmonious Feeders
A busy hummingbird feeder is awesome, but sometimes it comes with an unexpected challenge—a territorial hummingbird! Hummingbirds may fight around feeders and chase one another away as they try to establish dominance over the sugar-water feeder food source. This happens because hummingbirds have adapted to feeding from flowers, which produce limited nectar, so they’re used to having to defend finite food sources. (Of course, they don’t know a friendly backyard birder is going to keep refilling the sugar-water feeder!)
Keep all your backyard hummingbirds happy by hanging up at least two sugar-water feeders that can’t be seen from one another. It’s tough to play king of the hill when you can’t see the other hill!
- photo credit: Marc Fahringer (B&B reader)
5. Keep Feeders Clean
It’s important you keep your backyard sugar-water feeders clean for the sake of your hummingbirds’ health. One tried-and-true cleaning method is using an old toothbrush or bottle brush to reach all the crevices of a hummingbird feeder. Or, try mixing a tablespoon of uncooked rice and water in the feeder and shaking vigorously. Rinse the feeders well after cleaning.
Read more! Attracting Hummingbirds For Less
- photo credit: Stephanie Montgomery (B&B reader)
6. Offer Up More Than Just Sweets
Hummingbirds need more than just sugar water to survive; they need protein, too. Go the extra mile and try putting out a few pieces of overripe bananas in a mesh bag. Fruit flies will swarm to the banana chunks. Then, you can sit back and watch as hummingbirds swoop in to eat the fruit flies. Throw the bag (and fruit) away when the hummingbirds have had their fill.
Read more! Hummingbird Photography Secrets
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