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.
(Cinnabar Sage) Think of this plant as Pineapple Sage on steroids. It grows 5 feet tall and can be twice as wide and bursts with large, intensely red, furry flowers all winter. Our overwintering hummingbirds adore it. This cinnabar-red sage is hard to forget once you see it in full bloom.
(Brenthurst Tropical Sage)Tropical Sage is popular as an annual throughout America and as a perennial in warm zones. It is particularly beloved in the Deep South where it withstands heat, wind, heavy rains and excessive humidity to bloom prolifically season after season. Brenthurst is a coral-flowered cultivar with dramatic, dark bracts and bright green, heart-shaped leaves.
(Coral Nymph Tropical Sage) What a cutie! This award-winning cultivar of Tropical Sage is short and compact yet has a multitude of pastel salmon flowers larger than those of its bigger cousins. It is perfect for annual flower beds or patio containers.
(Forest Fire Tropical Sage) Butterflies love the abundant, fire engine red flowers of this mostly annual sage. It's a popular cultivar of one of the first Salvias used for ornamental purposes -- Tropical Sage. The flowers are dramatically framed by reddish black bracts.
(Lady in Red Tropical Sage) Lady in Red is a variety of Salvia coccinea Juss. ex Murray, which is often called Texas Sage. It is the best red-flowering Tropical Sage that we grow.
(Snow Nymph White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this award winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel Pink Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright pink & white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel Red Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright red color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this All American 2016 winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. The Summer Jewel varieties of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Red Velvet Sage) Reaching up to 18 inches tall, the floral spikes of this exotic looking Salvia are crowded with small, velvety, orange-red blossoms from mid-summer to late autumn. Its large, dark green, pebbly leaves are beautiful in their own right, making this one of our favorite sages.
(COOL Fandango Anise Scented Sage) A combination of dark, rosy bracts and magenta blossoms make Salvia COOL Fandango dance. It’s vivid, floriferous, and a hummingbird favorite.
(COOL Lavender Blush Anise Scented Sage) Dusky green and red-edged bracts surround the pale-throated lavender blossoms of Salvia COOL Lavender Blush. It's a magnet for hummingbirds.
(COOL Lavender Mist Anise Scented Sage) Bright green bracts and rich lavender blossoms sing in Salvia COOL Lavender Mist. Hummingbirds keep this bountiful bloomer buzzing.
(COOL Pink Lace Anise Scented Sage) Cheerful Kelly-green bracts surround magenta buds that bloom into the soft pink yet magenta-tinged flowers of Salvia COOL Pink Lace. Its bright green leaves have a licorice-like fragrance.
(COOL Wild Strawberry Anise Scented Sage) Prepare yourself for a heaping serving of large flowers the delicious color of strawberry ice cream when you plant Salvia COOL Wild Strawberry.
(Elk Magenta Hybrid Sage) Combining the best characteristics of both parents, this robust, large leafed hybrid has deep magenta and white flowers that delight hummingbirds.
(Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage) The brilliant red flowers of Vermilion Bluffs bloom abundantly from August to October. This variety of the Mexican native Salvia darcyi is cold hardy to Zone 5b at altitudes up to 5,500 feet.
(Roman Red Sage) This handsome, long blooming hybrid sage features a dramatic combination of scarlet flowers and deep rust-to-merlot calyxes. Deadheading spent blossoms prolongs bloom time.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Purple Bract Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Similar to its wild relative, Peruvian Sage, which is also known as Concolor Sage, this cultivar has foliage that is smooth, apple green on top and fuzzy with silver hairs on the bottom. Major differences appear in the dramatic bracts.
(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.