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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(Grape Scented Sage) With the grape scent of its pale lavender blossoms and its long history of medicinal use, it is no surprise that this sage is so widely distributed.

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(Limelight Mexican Sage) The chartreuse green calyxes and deep violet flowers of this sage form an electric combination that lights up the partial shade garden from late summer through fall. The light gray-green leaves are a handsome finishing touch.
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(Querataro Mexican Sage) Pump it up! Salvia mexicana 'Querataro' is a Limelight Mexican Sage on steroids -- much larger all over and more vigorous. Honeybees and hummingbirds love its deep violet-blue flowers.
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(Russell's Mexican Sage) Expect rapid, tall growth from this Salvia Mexicana . In the ground, Russell’s Mexican Sage can reach up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, providing an effective screen of dark green, heart-shaped foliage. By late autumn it’s bursting with flowers.

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(Byron's Mexican Sage) One of our favorite Mexican Sages, this large variety is reputed to be a hybrid between Salvia mexicana and S. hispanica -- a species of Chia Sage.

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(Honey Rose Mountain Sage) So dark that they almost seem black, the stems of this Mountain Sage add drama to flowers the color of creamy tomato soup. The lush, mid-green foliage has distinctive ribbing and is stiffly upright; it makes a strong statement when grouped with soft, rounded Salvias.
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(Hot Lips Sage) What a winner for fascinating flowers! Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ is a native of Mexico that produces a combination of solid red, solid white, and bicolor red and white blossoms all on the same plant and sometimes at the same time.

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(Red Velvet Mountain Sage) This is one of the most intense red-flowering variety of Mountain Sage we grow. Medium-sized flowers are profuse on this large, vigorous plant -- particularly in spring and fall. Dark stems and calyxes intensify the plant's drama along with glossy green foliage.

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(Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its medium-size scarlet flowers and glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.

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(Variegated Mirto de Montes Sage) Over the years, we have seen a number of variegated varieties of Mountain Sage. None have been as lovely and sturdy as this one, from botanist Brent Barnes of the University of California at Riverside.

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(Fuzzy Bolivian Sage) Large, bright and fuzzy, the cherry-licorice red flowers of this sage top what at first glance appears to be smooth, glassy green foliage. Up close, the large, lance-shaped leaves are velvety with clear-to-white hairs.

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(Big Pitcher Sage) As its scientific name indicates, this sage has very large flowers. They are almost two-tone, changing from deep violet to a light blue or white at their base where they are cupped by dusky purple calyxes.

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(Lavender Lace Autumn Purple Sage) Large, rich lavender-purple flowers cover this shrubby Sage from late fall into the spring.  It has great vigor, grows fast and is a favorite of the hummingbirds.  A "must have" for warm climate Salvia gardens.

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(Orange Mountain Sage) This is the reddest of the Salvia regla species and the most floriferous. Side by side with the other varieties, this one is a bit taller and has darker flowers.

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(Bolivian Lace Leaf Sage)  A large decidious woody shrub, this is a distinctive and somewhat unique Salvia species.  The large clusters of deep blue flowers appear in the spring and again in the fall. A native from a tropical savanna climate in Bolivia, this species grows best in climates with year-round warmth.

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(Arrowleaf Sage) Brilliant royal blue flowers and unusual foliage attract the eye to Arrowleaf Sage. This large herbaceous perennial is found at elevations up to 10,500 feet in the Cordillera de los Andes of Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

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(Ground Ivy Sage) The true blue flowers, displayed above the large leaves and spreading habit makes this a very special plant. As a ground cover in shady locations it has no peer. Fast growing and free blooming, it attracts hummingbirds too.
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(Pine Mountain Sage) Small but numerous, violet and deep purple flowers surrounded by pink bracts are sprinkled throughout this well-branched,shrubby sage like confections. This is one of the showiest Salvias we grow.

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(Smith College Mystery Sage) This mysterious species came to us via Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  We refer to it as "Mystery Sage" as the origins of this fine plant are unclear.

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(Yellow Hummingbird Sage or Yellow Pitcher Sage) The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden introduced this rare yellow variety of fragrant Hummingbird Sage. Similar to other varieties of this species, Avis Keedy is alluring to butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.

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(Topanga Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) Rich pink flowers surrounded by fuzzy, burgundy and green bracts are two of the reasons why this is one of our favorite kinds of Hummingbird Sage. We also love its vigorous, wide-spreading growth.
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(Sao Borja Scarlet Sage) Three-inch-long, smokey purple blossoms that bloom from spring to fall are a major clue that this heat-tolerant perennial is not your grandmother's Scarlet Sage.

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(Burgundy Scarlet Sage) Blood red to burgundy, the drooping blossoms of this sturdy, long flowering Salvia are the first that anyone comments on in a mixed planting. Use it singly as a dramatic garden accent or container plant; mass it for a stunning effect.

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(Faye Chapel Scarlet Sage) A vivid red, the drooping blossoms of this sturdy, long flowering Salvia are large and numerous. Use it singly as a dramatic garden accent or container plant; mass it for a stunning effect. This is an heirloom plant from the Atlantic Coast, where it has been grown as a hummingbird plant for decades.

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(VIBE® Ignition Cranberry Sage) A perfect companion to our Best of Breed 'Ignition White', Ignition Sunrise has deep cranberry red flowers that are rare in a Jame Sage hybrid. They bloom spring to fall for your enjoyment.
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(VIBE® Ignition Fuchsia Sage) A perfect companion to our Best of Breed 'Ignition Purple', Ignition Fuschia has velvety deep fuschia pink flowers that are rare in a Jame Sage hybrid. They bloom spring to fall for your enjoyment.
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(VIBE® Ignition Sunrise Sage) A perfect companion to our Best of Breed 'Ignition White', Ignition Sunrise has velvety bicolor pink and orange flowers that are rare in a Jame Sage hybrid. They bloom spring to fall for your enjoyment.
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(Pink & White Wagner's Sage) Instead of pink, leaf-life bracts, this variety of Wagner's Sage has white bracts surrounding the hot pink flowers. It blooms from November to March on our coastal Northern California farm where it feeds Anna's hummingbirds all winter long.

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(Windwalker® Royal Red Salvia) Salvia darcyi x S. microphylla 'PWIN03S' is one of the top 2015 plants for USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 5 selected by Colorado's Plant Select®, a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting plants for low-water gardens.

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(Light Pink Joy Sage) Salvia x 'Alegr­a Light Pink' is one of the most vigorous new plants at Flowers by the Sea.  It is a South American introduction from Roland Uria, an agronomy professor and plant researcher from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This select clone is a soft light pink shade.

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