Hummingbird Plants
Hummingbird Plants

We love hummingbirds, and they love us back with lots of visits. That's because our gardens are abundant in the tubular-shaped, nectar-rich flowers of sages and companion plants. Almost any sage (Salvia spp.) will attract hummingbirds. However, this list is based on the plants that hummingbirds regularly swarm in our garden and sneak into our greenhouses to sip.

You'll find a wide range of Salvia species and varieties here, especially ones from the Western Hemisphere. Over the years, we have noticed that hummingbirds seem to prefer mint-family plants (Lamiaceae) from the West. This makes sense considering that these flying jewels aren't found in the Eastern Hemisphere; native animals prefer native flora.

Plants and pollinators in a region coevolve to meet each other's needs. For example, the tube-shaped flowers of North and Central American Lamiaceae particularly fit the beaks of hummingbirds living in those areas whereas some South American sages with longer blossoms require the longer beaks of South American hummers for pollination.

North or South, the super-rich nectar of Salvias and other mint-type plants keep tiny wings whirring. Also, insects attracted to their nectar give the birds an added dietary boost of protein.

We have discovered some happy contradictions to the Hemisphere rule. So we include some Eastern Hemisphere plants here that hummingbirds crave, especially ones from South Africa. These include Salvia companions that are also Lamiaceae. Birds in South Africa, with similarly long beaks, go crazy for the nectar in their trumpet-shaped blossoms.

In addition to basing our selections for this list on years of observation, we also listen to what you have to say. Based on customer feedback, all these plants seem to be hummingbird favorites wherever they are grown. But keep in mind that just because a sage is not listed here does not mean it won't attract and nourish hummers.

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$14.50

(Elk Super Scarlet Rooster Sage) From the mountains of Mexico we have this stunning Sage, which seems never to be out of bloom. A superior hummingbird plant, the warm orange flowers that cover this shrubby perennial make it a standout in the garden.

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(Elk Red-Violet Hybrid Sage)  A very special new hybrid Sage, featuring small but very numerous deep red-violet flowers on a vigorous, easy to grow plant.  Loved by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A FBTS introduction.

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$16.50

(Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Native to the high Andes of Peru, this is a distinctive Salvia with apple-green leaves that are smooth on top and silver-haired fuzzy on the bottom. The flowers are such a dark purple that they almost look black.

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(Giant Bolivian Sage) Hailing from Peru and Bolivia, this tender specimen is found at altitudes of 9,000 feet in the wild. This multi-stemmed, woody-based, climbing Salvia needs support. Hummingbirds love its 5-inch-long, crimson flowers, which are the longest grown by any Salvia and flower from late summer through autumn.

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(Fruit Scented Sage) This plant has it all -- big, light-green leaves that are fuzzy soft and large magenta-pink flowers that smell intoxicating and bloom from winter into spring. Fruit Scented Sage is one of the strongest and most deliciously scented plants we have encountered.

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(Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage) Most varieties of Salvia elegans have bright red flowers. But Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage, which blooms abundantly beginning in late fall, has softer salmon-pink blossoms set against mid-green, lance-shaped leaves.

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(Golden Pineapple Sage) The bright crimson flowers of this extremely fragrant sage are attractive to both humans and pollinators. However, it is the glowing golden foliage that most distinguishes this cultivar from other varieties of Pineapple Sage.
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(Honey Melon Pineapple Sage) This is a short Pineapple Sage that is long blooming. It is the earliest and longest flowering of all the many varieties of Salvia elegans. We recommend it for indoor herb gardening as well as for outdoor borders and groundcovers.

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(Tangerine Pineapple Sage) This citrus-scented cultivar is our smallest variety of Pineapple Sage. Worth growing just for the exotic scent of its leaves, this culinary sage is also one of the longest blooming plants in its species.

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(Cardinal Sage) Aptly named for its cardinal red, 2-inch-long flowers that glisten in the autumn sun, this full-sun sage blooms from fall into winter. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms. Growing up to 5 feet tall, it makes a fine herbaceous border plant or shrubby screen.

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(Mexican Chocolate Scarlet Sage) Although this is a sister of Salvia gesneriiflora ‘Tequila’, it is shorter, more floriferous and has a longer bloom time. Similar to Tequila, the Mole Poblano variety has bright red flowers and dark purple calyxes.
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(Big Mexican Scarlet Sage) This heavily blooming Salvia from Mexico has heart-shaped leaves and spectacular flower spikes up to 18 inches long from winter through spring. The blooms are bright red-orange with rich purple-black calyxes.

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(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacan, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.

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(Furman's Red Autumn Sage) Selected by noted Texas plantsman W.A. Furman in the 1970s, this hardy Texas native is beautiful and tough withstanding heat, drought and freezing winters. Its flowers, which bloom spring through fall, are a rich, saturated red bordering on magenta.

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(Wild Thing Autumn Sage) Native to West Texas where it was collected in the wild, this cold-tolerant sage has perky, upright flowers that are coral pink with a darker throat. Overall, it is a vigorous, upright plant with dense, deep green foliage. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it.
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(Alice's Sage) We have John Fisher of Australia to thank for this fascinating intraspecific cross, which he named after his daughter. It really looks to be intermediate between the parents, and the fragrance of the leaves is divine.

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(Green Calyx Anise-Scented Sage) An older variety, Blue Ensign continues to be widely popular, especially in colder climates. We love its stunning Cambridge blue flowers, bright green calyxes and the licorice-like scent of its foliage.
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(Elk Argentina Skies Anise-Scented Sage)  Developed at FBTS, this new introduction is superior to the old standby, 'Argentina Skies'.  Superior growth and earlier flowering make it a must-have choice for hummingbird gardeners.

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(Purple Haze Sage) The very best purple Anise Scented Sage, period - the result of years of careful breeding aimed at developing a reliable, free flowering and easy to grow variety suitable for growing countrywide.

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(Winter Mexican Sage) Call it the Snow Queen! From fall through spring, this graceful, colorful sage blooms through 20 degree F weather despite snow and ice. It has lovely, small, dark green leaves and profuse clusters of tubular, cinnabar-red flowers that puff out in the center.

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$15.50

(Giant Karwinski's Sage) San Francisco arborist and gardener extraordinaire Ted Kipping developed this tower of creamy pinkalicious power that hummingbirds love. It's lush with bright green leaves that are large, pebbly and hairy on the underside.

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(Gray Roseleaf Sage) The University of California at Berkeley developed this hybrid from Karwinskii's Sage (Salvia karwinskii) and a variety of Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrata v. puberula) collected in Mexico by North Carolina nurseryman Richard Dufresne.

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(Pink Mexican Bush Sage) Although native to Mexico and Central America, this elegant variety of Salvia leucantha was hybridized in South Africa. It is compact, long blooming and profusely covered by soft pink flowers surrounded by velvety white bracts.

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(Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage) This variety of Mexican Bush Sage has purple and white flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Fuzzy leaves, stems and calyxes are characteristic of its species, so this native of Mexico and Central America is also called Velvet Sage.
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(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.

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(Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage) This compact Mexican Bush Sage was found in the Santa Barbara garden of Kathiann Brown. It is, without a doubt, the finest short Mexican Bush Sage -- hardy, tough and long blooming. Add drought tolerance and dark, rich purple flowers to its list of merits.

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(White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.

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(Giant Colombian Red Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found this towering sage with large, deep red flowers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia.

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(Red Stem Forsythia Sage) The thick, square, red stems of this variety of Forsythia Sage make it conspicuously different from the species and from everything else in your garden. Its jointed stalks look a little like rhubarb gone mad!

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(Silver Leaf Forysthia Sage) It's the foliage of this clone that makes it so different from its parent plant. The leaves are a lovely silver and smaller than the green leaves of the species. However, they both have buttery yellow, Forsythia-like blossoms.

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