Q: What are the best plants to attract hummingbirds?
A: Hummingbirds are arriving in Houston home gardens, looking to fill up before the long trek across the Gulf of Mexico toward their winter home. Tubular flowers are hummingbird favorites and offer nectar seekers a dine-in or flyby experience. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t have to be red flowers. Here’s a shout out to some of the native Texas plants that provide a tasty feast for these tiny travelers.
Esperanza (Tecoma stans) is a bright, full-sun shrub with rich yellow flowers. Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) blooms at the tops of trees for dinner with a view amid its orange petals. Salvias of all colors — blue, purple, coral, white or red — invite a quick sip as the birds compete for the best blooms. Flame acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is an attractive shrub with yellow to orange starburst flowers. Rounding out the list of Texas native hummingbird favorites are the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii), each with stunning red flowers.
Here are a few well-adapted, non-native garden choices. Hummingbirds will enjoy an exotic treat with Australian red bottlebrush (Callistemon species) or Chinese butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) hybrids with pink and purple flower clusters that attract a variety of pollinators. The aptly named hummingbird bush or scarlet bush (Hamelia patens), which hails from tropical areas of North and Central America, entices the birds with showy orange flowers.
Be sure also to keep your hummingbird feeders full to provide additional sustenance for these little visitors. Place your feeders near windows so you can watch wistfully while these traveling birds stop for a snack.