Salvias For Hummingbirds

With over 1000 species of salvias, they are a great perennial to choose for hummingbirds. These members of the mint family are also drought-resistant and easy to care for.

Some salvias are better at attracting hummingbirds, and this list is the best for attracting hummingbirds, according to 100s of votes on multiple hummingbird forums that I have checked for you.

Salvias evolved alongside hummingbirds in the Americas, and they need the hummingbirds’ long bill to enter the flower and open a trapdoor that deposits pollen on their heads and rewards them with rich nectar.

They put on a rich display of flowers and tubular blossoms all summer that keep the hummingbirds coming back.

There are many native species of salvia that are drought tolerant and grow happily in the Southern heat.

Choose Salvias with red, pink and orange colored flowers. Native species are best but Salvias from Europe are more hardy and will grow further north, extending the range and nectar availability for hummingbirds.

Sometimes known as the sage plant, they can be grown as annuals, but also perennial varieties are available. They may need to be grown as annuals in colder areas.

Salvias are heat and drought tolerant, but water thoroughly once a week if they are very dry.

Deadhead during the summer to encourage more flowers but leave flowers on at the end of the season, so they reseed.

Growing Zones: 4 – 10
Sun: Full sun, but some will tolerate partial shade
Soil: Well-drained
Colors: Red, pink, purple, blue, white, yellow.
Height: 1 – 6 feet
Spread: 1 – 6 feet

7 Salvias That are Hummingbird Magnets:

1. Hot Lips

Hot Lips is a fantastic perennial that gets voted one of the best salvias to attract hummingbirds.

Salvia “Hot Lips” is known for its vibrant red and white petals that bloom from early summer to frost. This evergreen perennial also changes colors depending on the season – all red in summer, red and white in late summer, and white as temperatures get colder.

What makes Salvia Hot Lips popular is that it’s a hardy plant that’s easy to maintain. It thrives in full sunlight but will tolerate some time in the shade. Plant it in well-drained soil, and it will flourish. As it is an evergreen perennial, it can handle winters pretty well. It also grows and spreads fast and reaches up to 3 feet tall. You can grow it in containers or plant it in beds and gardens.

Hummingbirds are easily attracted to Salvia Hot Lips primarily because of its brilliant red hues and sometimes contrasting whites. It is also nectar-rich and releases a blackcurrant fragrance when you brush past it.

  • Growing Zones: 8 – 12
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Colors: Red, red and white
  • Height: 3 feet
  • Spread: 2 – 3 feet 
  • Plant type: Perennial

2. Salvia Guaranitica (Black and Blue)

Known as ‘hummingbird sage,’ this is a firm favorite with the hummers and gets consistent results for people wanting to attract more of these tiny birds.

However, there is nothing tiny about this salvia. This perennial grows big and bold at 4 – 5 ft tall, 3 – 5 ft wide. It is easily recognizable with its dramatic dark blue, almost violet flowers. It even smells of anise. That is why it is also called “Anise-Scented Sage”. They flower from mid-summer until the first frost.

Salvia Guaranitica thrives when grown in full sunlight with well-drained soil. If full sunlight is not available, it can tolerate light shade but not too much shade, or it may droop and fall over. It’s essential to water it during the summer, particularly when the top layer of the soil is dry. But don’t overwater it because you may cause the roots to rot.  

In order to promote secondary blooms, deadhead the flowers. Deadheading means cutting off the dead flowers to encourage new blooms. The Salvia Guaranitica can be an annual perennial if you continue to prune it after the flowers have died. Simply cut off the stems down to the ground in late winter.  

Usually, hummingbirds are attracted to red colors, but this salvia is known to be a hummingbird magnet because of its alluring fragrance and cobalt blue flowers.

  • Growing Zones: 7 – 10
  • Sun: Full sun but will tolerate partial shade
  • Soil: Well-drained but moist
  • Colors: Blue
  • Height: 4 – 5 feet
  • Spread: 3 – 5 feet 
  • Plant type: Perennials

3. Salvia elegans (Pineapple sage)

Salvia elegans or “Pineapple Sage “is a red subshrub from Mexico and Guatemala. This annual perennial is known for its wonderful aroma of pineapple that is released when you stroke the leaves every time you walk past it. This is another salvia that repeatedly gets voted as a great plant to attract hummingbirds.

The bright red, tubular flowers of the Salvia elegans make them very attractive for hummingbirds. These long, 5 foot-stemmed flowers bloom later than other salvias, usually from late summer to fall. They do make up for it by blooming until spring, especially when there’s no frost. But if frost does prevent your Salvia elegans from flowering, there’s no need to worry because they will grow back in the spring. 

Growing Salvia elegans is not difficult. They just need a full dose of sun and well-drained soil. Ideally, they’re initially grown in a pot, so you can easily monitor their water intake and then replant them in your garden later on. They are susceptible to the wind because of the length and height of their stems so plant them against a side that can shield them from strong breezes. 

The flowers are 1-2 inches long, each one having a hooded upper lip and a spreading lower lip. Hummingbirds fuel up on the Salvia elegans’ nectar before migrating for the season. 

Keep growing Salvia elegans from seeds and cuttings and protect them from frost, so the hummingbirds will have no excuse not to keep visiting your yard.

  • Growing Zones: 8 – 11
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Colors: Red
  • Height: 4 – 5 feet
  • Spread: 2 – 3 feet
  • Plant type: Perennials, Shrub

4. Greggii (Autumn Sage)

Another hummingbird magnet is the red-flowered Salvia greggi, which blooms from spring until the first frost.

Salvia greggi flowers are usually red but may also be pink, purple, orange, white, and yellow. Native to Texas and Mexico, this salvia is heat and drought tolerant but may decrease flowering in the hottest part of the season before blooming in earnest as the weather cools in the fall.

For places with warmer climates, Salvia greggii can grow and bloom all year long. It’s not hard to keep it blooming as it thrives in full sunlight and well-drained soil. It’s even drought tolerant, and humidity doesn’t really affect it. 

To ensure a more robust growth for the next season, make sure to cut the plant down to ground level after it blooms in the fall. It will only take a few short weeks for the Salvia greggii to return to its full size, provided it gets full sunlight and the right amount of water.

The bright colors of the Salvia greggii are why hummingbirds are easily attracted to it. Position it in your garden where its color stands out against other plants. It also helps to place them where you can easily brush against them so that you can relish the aroma coming from the leaves. 

The Salvia greggi is a hardy perennial that can deliver you flowers for a long time. Take care of it so you’ll never run out of hummingbirds coming into your garden. 

  • Growing Zones: 7 – 9
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Colors: Red, pink, purple, yellow.
  • Height: 2 – 3 feet
  • Spread: 2 – 3 feet
  • Plant type: Annuals, Perennials

5. Salvia Coccinea (lady in red or Scarlet sage)

Salvia coccinea or Scarlet Sage is a native of Mexico but once was thought to have originated from Brazil. Hummingbirds are unable to resist its bright scarlet flowers that rise up from its dark green leaves.

Growing Salvia coccinea is not complicated at all. You may start from seeds placed in a pot with well-draining soil. It’s easier to grow it in a pot first and then transfer it to your yard when they’ve grown enough, and it has spread.

In the wild, Salvia coccinea thrives in dry, rocky soil. In homes, backyards, and urban places, it helps to keep them contained and well-watered. When the plant has enough water, chances are more flowers will blossom.

These blood-red flowers attract hummingbirds when they start to bloom in the summer until the first signs of frost. Support their stems as they’re a little brittle and are prone to breaking when people bump into them, especially when they’re positioned as hedges. 

Apart from attracting hummingbirds, goldfinches also love Salvia coccinea because as they drop seeds on the ground, the goldfinches are there to feast on them.

  • Growing Zones:  8 – 10
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: light, moist, and sandy 
  • Colors: Red
  • Height: 2 – 4 feet
  • Spread: 2.5 feet
  • Plant type: Annuals, Perennials

6. Leucantha (Mexican sage bush)

Among the many red salvias that attract hummingbirds, the Salvia leucantha holds its own with its thick column of purple and white flowers. Also known as the Mexican Sage Bush, it originated from the tropical forests of central and eastern Mexico.

As such, it is used to experiencing drought and arid climates. However, while growing this plant, it is best to give it a bit of water to encourage more flowers. Early spring is the best time to plant Salvia leucantha if you plan to grow them from seeds.

Salvia leucantha can grow up to 6 feet, especially under full sun and well-drained soil. They grow between summer and full frost, so you have to take care to keep the soil moist, especially during summer’s heat. When the flowers die from the cold, no worries, expect new growth in spring but remember to properly trim the stems down to the ground. 

It’s not hard to understand why hummingbirds are attracted to the small purple and white flowers of the Salvia leucantha. While other salvias grow in loosely-spaced stems, Salvia leucantha flowers are densely packed on stalks that can reach 10 inches long, so that’s a lot of nectar in a small space.

  • Growing Zones: 8 -10
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Fertile, well-drained
  • Colors: Purple, White
  • Height: 4 – 6  feet
  • Spread: 4 – 6 feet
  • Plant type: Perennials, shrub

7. Chiapensis

Credit: Stan Shebs

Salvia chiapensis or Chiapas Sage are perennials that bloom year-round, particularly in areas where there’s no frost. Since they’re originally from the cloud forests of Chiapas, Mexico, these sage shrubs are best suited for planting in light shade and moist soil.

Salvia Chiapensis grow as tall as 2 – 4 feet high and maybe even more if you place them in the shade and continue with regular watering. Their leaves are 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, glossy, and ivy-green. The flowers grow in groups of 3-6 in whorls along the stem.

Hummingbirds are easily attracted to Salvia Chiapensis because of their vibrant flowers that bloom between summer and fall. If winter isn’t too cold, it can continue to bloom. You may have to keep it indoors when temperatures drop (up to 20 deg F) or bring it into a greenhouse to protect it from the elements. To spur speedy regrowth, it is best to cut back dead foliage in late winter or early spring.  

Salvia Chiapensis may also be cultivated as hanging plants or ornamental container plants to make it easier to bring them inside when cold winter comes.

  • Growing Zones:8 – 10
  • Sun: Cool sun/Light shade
  • Soil: light, moist and well-drained 
  • Colors: Red/Fuschia
  • Height: 2 – 4 feet
  • Spread: 2 – 4 feet
  • Plant type: Perennials