Nature Notes

10 Terrific Plants for Hummingbirds—and Pollinators

Add low-maintenance beauty to your garden or landscape while providing nurturing habitat and nectar too

By Jennifer Benner, Audubon Connecticut Contributor and Co-Author of The Nonstop Garden

Come spring, I always look forward to the return of a zippy, humming, buzzing sound when I venture out into my garden. I hear it in spurts at first, but as plants come into bloom the sound lingers, and I finally get a glimpse of my welcome friend—the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I could watch hummingbirds and their fellow pollinators in my garden for hours. They are fascinating creatures and rank high among the supreme curators of the planet—ensuring the lifecycle of plants continues.

With the loss of more and more natural habitats to development every year, the pollinator’s job is getting harder and harder, and food and habitat sources smaller and smaller. So, it’s important for people to help by planting a succession of native plants that bloom at different times throughout the growing season. Here’s a list of 10 terrific flowering natives for hummingbirds and other pollinators. For the greatest benefit and success, plant a large patch of each plant species you choose and provide a water source (birdbath, sprinkler, etc.) for our pollinator friends too.

  1. Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8, perennial, full to partial shade, E)
  2. Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 3-9, perennial, full sun, M-L)
  3. Turtlehead (Chelone glabra, Zones 3-8, perennial, full sun to partial shade, L)
  4. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3-9, perennial, full sun, M)
  5. Blazing Star (Liatris spicata, Zones 3-9, perennial, full sun to partial shade, M)
  6. Canada Lily (Lilium canadense, Zones 3-9, perennial, full sun, E-M)
  7. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis, Zones 3-8, perennial, full sun to partial shade, M-L)
  8. Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens, Zones 4-9, vine, full sun to partial shade, M)
  9. Beebalm (Monarda didyma, Zones 3-8, perennial, full sun to partial shade, M)
  10. Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata, Zones 3-8, perennial, full to partial shade, E)

E = early-season bloomer, M = mid-season bloomer, L = late-season bloomer

To discover more native plants for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife, check out Plants for Birds.

How you can help, right now