Cardinal Flower
Cardinal Flower


I’ve yet to meet a person who didn’t like hummingbirds, those tiny winged dynamos that can hover and move about in all directions with such seeming ease. Many people put out sugar water to attract them to their garden for up close viewing. If you do this, remember to change the water frequently, especially in hot weather, and to avoid using both red dye and honey, as both could have negative implications on the birds’ health.

A safe and natural alternative, however, is to plant a variety of flowering plants all around your garden, including in pots, hanging or otherwise. This will allow you up close viewing of both hummingbirds and the pretty blooms themselves! Hummingbirds love cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), a native of New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. But there are lots of other native plants and beneficial annuals to plant that will also attract hummingbirds. While red flowers are known to be magnets to these pollinators, they will go to a variety of flower colours. They also tend to prefer trumpet or bell-shaped flowers, large or small, but watch and see as you may find them feeding from a plant that is not on any list in any book or website! That happened to me one day, to my great delight, when I spied a ruby-throated hummingbird taking nectar from a spike of tiny pale pink Verbena hastata flowers , a plant that was not on any hummingbird list I could find!

Keep in mind that hummingbirds also need protein in their diet which they get from spiders and insects. So avoid pesticides and get Mother Nature on your side, with bird, bat, toad and beneficial insect allies keeping all your garden visitors in check.

Visit our Native Plant Encylopedia for plant ideas, or click here to learn more about hummingbirds.