Since hummingbirds have to eat twice their body weight in nectar and insects each day, they’re protective of their good food sources in the garden and will fight aggressively to defend them. Hummingbirds do tend to try the red flowers first but their sugar content is what they really are looking for regardless of color.
Hummingbirds prefer the native species (commonly Sambucus, Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos) for nesting. They prefer a mixed diet of nectar from multiple sources for their daily diet.
Here are some locally native plants that are great nectar sources for hummingbirds:
Arctostaphylos species, Manzanita
- Comarostaphylis diversifolia Summer Holly. If you live in Coastal Areas of Southern California it is a great summer flowering bush for hummingbirds.
- Diplacus species, Monkey flowers of all colors are used by hummingbirds, but they really prefer the red ones, Diplacus puniceus and Mimulus cardinalis. Monkey flowers are a showy addition to a hummingbird garden.
- Dudleya species, Live Forever is an excellent rock wall plant. And as it is a succulent it is very drought tolerant. It naturally occurs in rock outcroppings.
- Erysimum species, Wallflowers are randomly worked in an opportunistic way. Hummingbirds prefer manzanitas but like to add a little spice to their life with a tasty treat from a wallflower.
- Keckiella antirrhinoides, Yellow bush snapdragon is a garden shrub with fragrant yellow Penstemon flowers, March – May.
- Keckiella cordifolia, Heart-Leafed Penstemon
Lilium species, the California lilies almost swallow the birds when they work the flowers, but the orange forms are used regularly. Lilium pardalinum and Lilium humboldtii are both happy to help out the hummingbirds.
- Lonicera subspicata, Southern Honeysuckle is used in varying degrees.
- Opuntia species, Cacti. Yes, the hummingbirds use cacti.
- Penstemon species, most notably Scarlet bugler, Penstemon centranthifolius, a hummingbirds dream.
- Fuchsia flowering or fuchsia flowering gooseberry, Ribes speciosum, is a four foot nearly evergreen shrub with red fuchsia-like flowers that appear in Jan. It is pollinated by hummingbirds.
- Salvia species, Sages, such as Salvia mellifera and Salvia clevelandii are all well liked by hummingbirds. And not to forget hummingbird sage, Salvia spathacea. A sage garden can be an experience when eight or ten hummingbirds fight continuously around you.
Stachys bullata, the hedge nettle is used as a side dish as the hummingbirds protect the Diplacus species. Put the Stachys in a moist shade section of the garden.
- Symphoricarpos species, Snowberry. Many of the snowberries flower April through July. The hummingbirds are not crazy for the flowers, but will live on them when more tasty flowers in the garden are not available.
- Zauschneria species, California fuchsia, should be everywhere in your garden. The California fuchsias can flower from July through December. They flower and flower, trim off the old flowers, and they flower more. They are excellent in rock walls. California fuchsias can tolerate garden water as well as being very drought tolerant.