Top 10 Colorful Flowers Hummingbirds Love

Hummingbirds flock to blooms in every color of the rainbow.

Hummingbird-friendly flowers have three things in common. Their flowers are tube-shaped and brightly colored, they’re scentless, and they grow where it’s easy for hummingbirds to hover and sip. Red flowers provide even more incentive for hummingbirds to visit them, because hummingbirds love red for a very good reason. Their eyes are tuned to the rosy hue because their retinas have a dense concentration of cones, which mute cooler shades like blue and heighten warmer shades like red and yellow. (Read more! 6 Simple Ways to Attract More Hummingbirds)

4 Things That Keep Hummingbirds Coming Back Each Year

  • Insects and spiders, which are often attracted to the same flowers.
  • Water. Nectar is sticky, so hummingbirds bathe in shallow moving water or spray mist.
  • Nesting materials, such as mosses and other fine-textured plants.
  • A pesticide-free yard.
photo credit: Carol L. Edwards

1. Cardinal Flower

Lobelia Cardinalis, Zones 2 to 9

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide

Cardinal flower, named for the red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals, needs mulch to retain moisture during summer and protect its root system during cold northern winters.

Why we love it: This deer-resistant, reseeding and self-rooting perennial lights up partial shade or full sun areas that boast consistently moist soil. Flower spikes open from bottom to top, and stay in bloom for several weeks.

Bonus! Variety is essential for attracting ruby-throats and other hummingbirds. Plant this cardinal flower for consecutive blooms.

photo credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

2. Bee Balm

Monarda species, Zones 4 to 9

Size: 1 to 4 feet tall and wide

For a surefire way to attract hummingbirds, grow bee balm. Whether you choose natives or cultivated varieties, the birds can’t resist the nectar-rich blooms. Bee balm needs sun, moist soil, and plenty of air circulation to ward off powdery mildew.

Why we love it: After the tubular pink, red, white or violet flowers fade, the round seed heads add beauty in fall and winter and may self-sow.

photo credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

3. Penstemon

Penstemon species, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 1 to 4 feet tall

Penstemons are North American natives that come in many forms. It’s best to plant those that are native to your area. They’re low-maintenance if you place them in full sun and soil with excellent drainage; they hate wet feet, especially in the winter.

Why we love it: The options are nearly limitless. Choose from a wide palette of flower colors, including white, yellow, blue, purple, red and orange.

photo credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

4. Hosta

Hosta Species, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 6 to 30 inches

Although most hostas are grown for their leaves, the large bell-shaped blooms are excellent nectar sources in hues of purple to white.

Why we love it: Everyone thinks of hummingbird plants for sunny areas, but the little fliers like a sweet treat in the shade, too.

photo credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

5. Catmint

Nepeta Species, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall, often wider than it is tall

Catmints are easy to grow, long-blooming, heat-tolerant, and deer- and pest-resistant. After the flowers fade, shear off the spent blooms and about a third of the stalk for a second round.

Why we love it: Hummingbirds feed from all kinds of catmint but especially love Siberian catmint’s blue blooms (Nepeta sibirica). Just be aware that this variety can be an aggressive grower.

photo credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

6. Agastache

Agastache species, Zones 4 to 9

Size: 1 to 5 feet tall

It’s no coincidence that a common name for one of the agastache species is hummingbird mint. That type excels in dry regions. Choose anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) in northern, wetter climates. Tiny tubular flowers on slender stalks grow in a variety of colors and shapes. Full sun and excellent drainage are essential for keeping plants happy.

Why we love it: Deer and rabbits leave it alone.

photo credit: Sean Lema/123RF

7. Eastern Red Columbine

Aquilegia Canadensis, Zones 3 to 8

Size: 1 to 3 feet tall, 1 foot wide

This easy-to-grow perennial performs in part to full shade. It reseeds itself to replenish older plants, which tend to lose vigor after three or four years. The airy habit allows it to grow among other plants.

Why we love it: Sure, you can find cultivated varieties of columbines, but native columbine, with its crimson spurs and bright yellow stamens, is an early-season favorite.

photo credit: Deborah Bifulco (B&B reader)

8. Honeysuckle

Lonicera Sempervirens, Zones 4 to 10

Size: 10- to 20-foot vine

If you have a fence, arbor or trellis in full sun to part shade, plant a colorful trumpet honeysuckle vine, and watch the hummingbirds go absolutely wild for this climber.

Why we love it: After a flush of blooms in late spring, flowers continue sporadically until fall. Prune or don’t prune—your choice.

Bonus! Honeysuckle is perfectly shaped for hummingbirds, like this ruby-throat.

photo credit: Carol L. Edwards

9. Salvia

Salvia species, annual to perennial Zones 3 to 10

Size: 1 to 6 feet tall

Pick a salvia, any type of salvia—just as hummingbirds do. The tubular flowers are just right for dipping a beak into. Salvias grow best in full sun to part shade.

Why we love it: Almost continuously blooming, especially in hot, dry conditions, salvias come in a huge selection of colors and plant habits.

photo credit: Courtesy of Proven Winners - provenwinners.com

10. Zinnia

Zinnia Elegans, annual

Size: 6 to 48 inches tall

Zinnias are a treat for hummingbirds and humans. The birds sip from the central florets, and you can snip the blooms to create indoor bouquets.

Why we love it: There are so many colors to choose from! If you’re planting a rainbow of flower colors and need green, choose Queen Lime, Envy, Tequila Lime or chartreuse varieties.

Deb Wiley
Deb Wiley is a freelance writer and editor from Des Moines, Iowa. She loves plants that attract birds to her garden.