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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(Elk Smokey Grape Jame Sage) We think the dusky lavender flowers of Salvia x ‘Elk Smokey Grape’ look like the dusty, pale reddish-blue of Malbec grapes. This is a floriferous beauty. 

 

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(Ember's Wish Sage) Bright coral-colored, tubular blossoms contrast handsomely with the deep maroon stems, rusty rose calyxes and mid-green foliage of Ember's Wish Sage.

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(Gayle Nielson Hybrid Sage) Whorl-like clusters of violet-blue flowers on slender stems as well as its height and width indicate that Gayle Nielson Hybrid Sage is related to some form of Salvia clevelandii.

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(Love and Wishes Sage) Deep purple calyxes support the magenta-purple, tubular blossoms of Salvia x 'Love and Wishes'. They contrast handsomely with dark stems and mid-green foliage.

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(Margie Griffith Sage) Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a big, purple-flowered beauty with glossy green, ribbed foliage. It feeds hummingbirds year round down South and on our coastal, Northern California farm where winter temperatures are moderate.

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(Phyllis' Fancy Sage) The parentage of this lavender-flowered hybrid sage is unknown. However, it may be a cross between Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) and Chiapas Sage (S. chiapensis).

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(Grey Musk Sage) Lavender flowered, this is a fast-growing, chance hybrid of California Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii) and California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).
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(Raspberry Truffle Sage) Hybrid sages with Big Mexican Scarlet Sage parentage (Salvia gesnerifolia) tend to have thick clusters of large, deep purple flowers supported by bracts that are almost black.
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(Scarlet Spires Sage) This is a brilliant cross between the sturdy D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) and the beautifully colored 'Raspberry Delight' Littleleaf Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Raspberry Delight').

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(Skyscraper Orange Sage) Brand new for 2018, this beautiful plant is compact, easy to grow in the shade and full of flowers all season long. They make outstanding container plants as well.
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(Skyscraper Pink Sage) Brand new for 2018, this beautiful plant is compact, easy to grow in the shade and full of flowers all season long. They make outstanding container plants as well.
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(Waverly Sage) A pale pink to lavender blush adds delicate color to the white flowers of Waverly Sage, which are supported by plum-colored calyxes. Its mid-green leaves are lance shaped and veined.

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(Wendy's Wish Sage) A new hybrid Salvia from Australia, Wendy's Wish is absolutely spectacular! Quick to bloom, compact and tidy in habit, we believe this to be one of the finest of all Salvia varieties.

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(White Flame Sage) Like bright white candle flames, the short vigorously upright flower spikes of petite Salvia x ‘White Flame’ light up flowerbeds.

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(Envy Hybrid Sage)  A natural hybrid found in Peru and Bolivia, the parentage of this special variety is at this point unknown.  The uniquely colored flowers are abundant all season long, and the hummingbirds love it.

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(Costa Rica Blue Sage) Although this handsome plant is often listed as an Anise Leaf Sage (Salvia guaranitica), we think it is a hybrid based on differences in its growth pattern and flowering season.

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(Jean's Purple Sage) If you are looking for a deep purple perennial for accenting an entryway or back of border in flower beds, Jean's Purple Passion may be the right choice. 

We highly recommend the much improved Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Haze' as an alternative to this older variety.

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(Variegated Anise-Scented Sage) Rumpled and lance-shaped, the spectacular leaves of this sage are yellowish-lime with splotches of emerald. Rub them and you smell anise, a licorice-like scent. The bountiful, cobalt blue flowers cover the plant from summer into fall.
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(Purple Majesty Sage) This exceedingly long blooming herbaceous perennial is a cross between Salvia guaranitica spp (Anise-Scented Sage) and Salvia gesneriiflora (Mexican Scarlet Sage).

We highly recommend the much improved Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Haze' as an alternative to this older variety.

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(Red Birds in a Tree) Flocks of cardinal red blossoms shaped like tiny birds inhabit the tall flower spikes of Scrophularia macrantha, which is best known as Red Birds in a Tree and is well loved for its ability to attract hummingbirds.

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(Scarlet O'Hara Hardy Gloxinia) This plant's  long, tubular, deep pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This older hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.

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(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.

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(Red Betony) Heralding from the arid Southwest, this attractive and desirable perennial is one of the best hummingbird plants. Small pastel red/orange flowers make a real impact due to their numbers - this plant is often covered in flowers. And the furry leaves have a mild, fruity fragrance, especially in warm weather.

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