6 Native Plants That Will Attract Hummingbirds to Your Regional Garden

6 Native Plants That Will Attract Hummingbirds to Your Regional Garden

For the record, hummingbirds are fascinating. They are the only birds to fly forward, backward, and hover. They can beat their wings 50 to 200 times per minute. And when they take a literal nose-dive, they can reach a speed of 60 mph!

And that's only a fraction of what these tiny wonders can do. Watch hummingbirds and you can't help but be captivated by their acrobatic maneuvers as they flit from blossom to blossom. Do you want to attract more hummingbirds to your garden? It's easy—grow native plants.

Whether your birds are passing through on their migratory path, raising young during the breeding season, or are year-round residents, native plants are guaranteed to attract more hummingbirds to your garden.

Bird flying through the air
Credit: Rene Grayson

These 6 native plants with their enticing blooms and sweet nectar, representing each of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) regional maps, are well-known for attracting hummingbirds.

Because USDA regions span several hardiness zones, each plant's description includes the zones in which it grows. You can use this information to determine which native plants will do best in your unique space.

See also: How Birds Help Your Garden
Great Blue Lobelia
Great Blue Lobelia. Credit: Bernell MacDonald

North Central Region

Includes Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, N. Dakota, Nebraska, S. Dakota, and Wisconsin

Here, bird watchers and gardeners primarily see the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), also known as the blue cardinal flower, is well-adapted to grow in zones 4 – 8. This plant, with its lavender-blue tubular blooms, grows between 2 and 3 feet and spreads 12 to 18 inches.

The lobelia feels right at home on the edges of streams and ponds where the soil is moist. It enjoys full sun but will also grow in partial shade, producing blooms from July to October.

But beware—the great blue lobelia is poisonous.

Crossvine. Credit: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Northeast Region

Includes Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and W. Virginia

Like the North Central region, this is where you'll also find the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), also called the tangerine vine, is found in zones 5 – 9 . The crossvine boasts beautiful trumpet-shaped blossoms that can be red, yellow, or a combination of these colors. Each cluster has 2 to 5 blooms and the vine, which can grow up to 50 feet, doesn't require any support.

Crossvine does well in full sun to partial shade and tolerates dry to moist soil.

The blooms start in March, making it one of the earliest spring arrivals, and continue through May. The woody vine, which is dark green in the summer, turns a reddish-purple color in the winter.

See also: How to Grow a Bird-Friendly Garden
Orange Honeysuckle
Orange Honeysuckle. Credit: Ash Kyd

Northwest Region

Includes Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming

This is where you'll discover the rufous, black-chinned, Anna's, broad-tailed, and Calliope hummingbirds.

Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) has three additional common names: trumpet, Northwest, and Western honeysuckle. It grows in zones 4 – 9  and, as long as it has moist soil, grows in full sun or shade.

Blooms appear in May and continue through July. As the name implies, the blooms are orange, tubular, and grow in clusters. This vine grows up to 18 feet and can easily creep up a tree or meander along the ground.

You may want to introduce a child in your life to gardening. Sucking the sweet nectar from the base of the bloom is unusual fun and an opportunity for learning.

Butterfly Milkweed. Credit: Ted

South Central Region

Includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas

The ruby-throated, rufous, black-chinned, broad-tailed, and buff-bellied hummingbirds roam this region.

Butterfly milkweed (Ascepias tuberosa) grows in zones 3 – 9. Its two additional common names are chigger flower and pleurisy root. The name “pleurisy root” is traced to Native Americans in the region who chewed the root to treat pleurisy and other pulmonary illnesses.

Blooms appear in May and wither in September. Clusters of orange to orange-yellow blooms measure between 2 and 5 inches. The butterfly milkweed is a hardy plant. It grows in full sun and while it prefers moist, well-drained soil, it's tolerant to drought.

In spite of several myths about milkweeds, they're critically important plants. Milkweeds are the only plants to host the larvae of monarch butterflies, whose numbers have dramatically decreased.

Canadian Lily
Canadian Lily. Credit: Ian Muttoo

Southeast Region

Includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, and Tennessee

Once again, the ruby-throated hummingbird reigns supreme.

Canadian lily (Lilium canadense) is also called wild yellow lily, no doubt because of its large, showy, yellow to orange-red blossoms that sport dark-colored inner spots.

The Canadian lily grows in zones 4 – 8 and each plant produces 16 – 20 blooms that hang downward. It grows as tall as 8 feet and does best in full sun with soil that has good drainage.

Try to avoid wetting the leaves; tip your watering can at soil level.

Cobwebby Thistle
Cobwebby Thistle. Credit: Joe Decruyenaere

Southwest Region

Includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah

The Southwest region is where you see the greatest variety of hummingbirds. Watch for the rufous, black-chinned, Anna's, broad-tailed, Calliope, Allen's, Costa's, broad-billed, blue-throated, and Lucifer hummingbirds.

Cobwebby thistle (Cirsium occidentale), snowy thistle, or western red thistle—whatever you call it, it's got sharp spikes you don't want to touch. But that doesn't mean it isn't the perfect addition to your xeriscape garden.

This unusual looking plant, which can be as tall as 9 feet, grows best in zones 8 – 11. It likes full sun—it won't grow in shade. The soil should be sandy, dry to moist, and well-drained.

The cobwebby thistle has gray-green foliage covered in hairs that make it appear white. The stalk ends in a ball shape (called an inflorescence) where you find the spikes and fibers that look like spider webs. It is a biennial, which means it takes 2 years to bloom. When it does, a brilliant red to purple bloom will emerge from each ball.


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