Ruby-throated hummingbirds are top of mind when people think of hummingbirds, but you might spot other beautiful species zipping through your yard. If you enjoy their chirping and delightful presence, this article will talk about a few ways to attract hummingbirds to your garden, such as providing food, water, and native plants.
Hummingbirds not only drink nectar from nectar flowers, but they will also drink hummingbird nectar from a feeder. These tiny birds need to eat every 10 to 15 minutes, so giving them many sources is an excellent idea.
Add a pop of color to your garden with vibrant colors to attract hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are drawn to tubular flowers in orange and red colors. They use their long, tube-like beak to drink the nectar from the following flowering plants:
- Cardinal flowers
- Bee balm
Note: Although your goal is to attract hummingbirds with nectar flowers, you might inadvertently invite other pollinators to your yard, such as butterflies, bees, or wasps.
In addition to nectar flowers, hummers can feed on homemade hummingbird nectar. You can easily make homemade hummingbird nectar (sugar water) and put it in a feeder (available at your local home improvement store or Amazon).
To make the nectar, use a 4:1 ratio of four parts hot water and one part white sugar–– bring the water to a boil, add the sugar in, and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let the nectar cool before pouring it into your hummingbird feeder. Avoid adding artificial sweeteners, honey, or red dyes to your sugar water, as these could harm hummingbirds.
You must clean and replenish the feeders every few days to avoid a hummingbird getting sick. Your cleaning and replenishment might have to be more frequent when the weather is hot. If you notice any cloudy water or moldy spots, clean the feeder immediately.
Tip: Bright red attracts hummingbirds–– so when you’re shopping for a nectar feeder, plan to buy a red one. Also, look for a feeder with a built-in ant moat. An ant moat reduces the chance of ants being on or in the feeder. Hummingbirds don’t eat ants and the ants could contaminate the hummingbird’s nectar if they got into the feeder.
Good Spacing Between Feeders
Unlike songbirds, hummingbirds do not like to feed together–– they will often chase one another away from a feeder. Hummingbirds are protective over a feeder because they’re used to the limited supply of the nectar of a flower. Therefore, you want to space your feeders out of sight from one another.
In addition to ample spacing between feeders, you must be mindful of how your hummingbird feeders hang. Hummingbirds need adequate space to hover above the feeder, so provide about six inches of hover space above your feeder.
Hummingbirds don’t necessarily need a water source for drinking purposes. They may drink, but hummingbirds like water to bathe.
If you plan to use water to attract hummingbirds to your garden, also plan to have a nearby perch for them. If no twigs are available to use as a perch, hummingbirds may use a clothesline or a swingset as a perch. Afterall, once hummingbirds have bathed themselves, they’ll need a place to groom their feathers.
Some birdbaths or fountains have a wide enough edge to act as a perch for hummingbirds after they take a dip.
Sprinklers are a double win to attract hummingbirds and keep your garden happy. Since hummingbirds enjoy running water, you might notice more hummingbird visits when your sprinklers are on.
Although hummingbirds will drink the most water from the feeder, you can place a birdbath in your garden for extra water for the hummingbirds. A more petite birdbath is better than a larger one, so it remains shallow enough not to overwhelm the hummingbirds.
Tip: A birdbath with a bubbler makes your birdbath more attractive to hummingbirds because of the running water aspect.
A fountain not only adds a touch of serenity to your garden with the sounds of flowing water, but it can also help entice hummingbirds to visit. With the water effortlessly flowing over the sides of a fountain, hummingbirds can enjoy the water and have easy access to a perch on the fountain’s edge.
Reduce Synthetic Pesticides
Hummingbirds need a good dose of protein in their diet. The best way for them to receive it is from munching on insects. Synthetic pesticides often eliminate those insects, leaving no snacking opportunities. When you reduce or eliminate the amount of synthetic pesticides you use in or around your yard, you attract hummingbirds to your garden by having that protein source available.
Plant native plants
Depending on your location, you might be able to grow native plants in your area. Not only can some native plants help attract hummingbirds, but native plants also help attract small insects that are good for the ecosystem. They also thrive without the help of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, unlike non-native plants.
Ideas for native plants that attract hummingbirds include the following:
- Hummingbird sage
- Trumpet vine
Organic pest control measures are typically kinder to the environment than synthetic pesticides, and less likely to harm your hummingbird friends. Why? Because synthetic pesticides contain human-made chemicals that aren’t biodegradable, whereas organic pesticides contain chemicals that naturally exist in the environment. Some organic pesticides will even decompose or contain no chemicals at all.
Organic pest control methods include:
- Neem oil
- Diatomaceous earth
- Natural predators
- Beneficial nematodes
- Bacillus thuringiensis (a soil dwelling bacteria)
- DIY soap spray: 2 tablespoons castile soap and 1 quart of water combined in a spray bottle. Spray it as needed if there’s a certain area you’re trying to keep clear of garden pests like your fruits or vegetables.
Practice Integrated Pest Management
The ultimate goal of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is to strengthen your lawn, garden, and yard to eliminate the possibility of pests with limited use of pesticides. You accomplish this by ridding your lawn of food and water sources for pests. Even weeds are considered pests, so it’s important to rid your lawn, garden, and yard of those, too.
IPM also includes exclusion and habitat manipulation. Alter a pest-friendly habitat by removing debris from the yard, such leaf, rock, or brush piles. You can practice exclusion by building a fence around your yard or garden.
Providing hummingbirds with shelter can move your garden up a notch on their favorite list and attract them that much more to your garden.
Nesting balls are an easy DIY project to encourage the hummingbirds to build nests in your yard (though, make sure you have protective shrubs and trees growing, too). To create a nesting ball you’ll need the following supplies:
- Grapevine ball
- Milkweed, cattail, twine, twigs, or fabric
Work your material of choice around the grapevine ball, not too loose but not too tight either. Tie a ribbon around part of the top to hang it for the hummingbirds.
Nesting balls are also available for purchase if you prefer to go that route.
Attracting and keeping hummingbirds wanting to return for more nectar isn’t an overnight process. Have a little patience to reap the reward.
Hummingbirds Have to Accept Your Yard as a Nectar Source
It’s exciting when you spot the first hummingbird feeding in your garden. However, you might spot one but then not see any other activity for a while. It can take several weeks for hummingbirds to accept your yard as a nectar source, so be diligent in keeping your feeders full and wait a little longer.
Hummingbirds also have to learn their landing technique and the best way to drink the nectar in your feeder in your garden, which can take some time for the hummingbirds to get accustomed to.
Don’t Forget–– Hummingbirds Migrate
Hummingbirds won’t stay in your garden year-round–– they will migrate in the late summer or early fall and return in the early spring. So, if you don’t see hummingbirds in your garden and it’s wintertime, don’t fret. Be patient until they migrate back in the spring.
Keep the Feeders in the Same Place Yearly
There’s no sense in keeping the hummingbird feeders hanging once they’ve migrated, but come springtime, putting those feeders back in the same spot is a crucial step to help them return to your garden. The consistency of where you place your hummingbird feeders in your garden helps the birds to establish that it’s a reliable food source, making them want to continue to visit. Aim to place your feeders back up before hummingbirds make their return.
FAQ About Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden
The decision to buy a plastic or glass hummingbird feeder is up to you. Hummingbirds don’t have a preference. Glass feeders will last longer and be easier to clean than plastic.
Just don’t forget to buy a feeder with red on it to attract the hummingbirds.
Loud noises such as barking dogs, kids, or outdoor music could scare hummingbirds away.
No, loud noises are only one reason as to why hummingbirds might not be visiting your feeders. Hummingbirds might not be coming to your feeder for a few different reasons, such as:
Their attraction has been drawn elsewhere with more bright red or orange colors.
They don’t like the taste of your sugar water. If you weren’t careful in preparing the sugar water, you could have added too much sugar or too much water making the taste not quite right.
Your feeder is dirty.
Call in the Pros
Designing a garden to attract hummingbirds is an enjoyable project for some people. For others that want to enjoy a garden with hummingbirds flying around without the work behind it, connect with a landscape professional who can create an inviting environment for hummingbirds.
Main Image Credit: Unsplash