Jul 25, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, August 2018

Helpful Hummingbird Tips

A hummingbird sips nectar from a red salvia. Photo by Connie Etter.

Deceptive Flowers for Hummingbirds

Horticulturalists typically breed flowers to be showy and colorful—characteristics hummingbirds find attractive. But such flowers aren't necessarily good food sources for hummingbirds. Begonias and tea roses, for example, don't produce nectar. Even petunias—which people often provide specifically for hummingbirds—produce small amounts of nectar relative to other flowers. Such flowers might attract hummingbirds, but ultimately, they'll disappoint. Better choices for hanging baskets that attract and feed hummingbirds include fuchsia, salvia, and lobelia.

Use Only Sugar for Hummingbird Nectar

Don't use anything other than white table sugar when making hummingbird nectar. Molasses, honey, and brown sugar (which contains molasses) are toxic to hummingbirds, and low-calorie sugar substitutes such as stevia and artificial sweeteners do not provide the calories hummingbirds need to fuel their speedy metabolism. A four-parts water to one-part white table sugar is a reasonable substitute for naturally produced nectar.

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