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.

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021