Best Shade Tolerant Plants to Attract Hummingbirds

You probably expect bright blooms that hummingbirds get nectar need lots of sunshine, but that is not the case. There are many shade-tolerant plants that attract hummingbirds.

You can brighten up that dark corner of your yard or a shady patio with these bright blooms that will not only look great but keep the hummers coming all summer long.

Hummingbirds’ favorite flower colors are usually purple, pink, and red and these shade-tolerant plants certainly pack a punch on color.

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So don’t delay get planting these, so they are in full bloom when the hummingbirds arrive.

1. Fuchsia

Fuschias are bright hardy perennials that provide nectar for hummingbirds all through the summer.

They look especially great in pots and containers, with their beautiful flowers abundantly drooping over the sides.

Fuschias come in hardy varieties and are easy to grow in most soils. They require very little maintenance, and so are a great addition to your potted garden.

They prefer dappled shade and not too much heat and will brighten up a more shady area of your patio.

Pinch off growing tips after flowering and fertilize every 2 weeks in the growing season.

In colder areas, they may need to be brought inside in the winter.

Growing Zones: 6 – 11
Sun: Partial sun to shade
Soil: well-drained moist soil
Colors: Pink, purple, white, orange and blue
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Spread: 1 – 5 feet

2. Columbine

Columbines are one of the best plants to attract hummingbirds because their flowers come in a range of vibrant colors and they grow well in partial shade.

Columbine is an elegant perennial plant that has spiky, bell-shaped blooms that measure anywhere from 3 to 6 inches long. They are also known as Aquilegia

There are lots of different varieties of columbine, but most grow in sun- to full shade and flower as early as spring, so they are a great option to start with if you’re trying to attract hummingbirds.

This hard-working flower is don’t only shade-tolerant but they are also drought tolerant and deer resistant.

Sow the Columbine seeds directly in the ground in spring and then they will self-seed if left at the end of the flowering season. If you would like to get ahead then sow the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frosts. Flowers will not appear on seed-grown plants until their second year.

Growing Zones: 3-9
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Neutral PH, moist but not wet soil
Colors: Red, Pink, Blue, Orange, White and Yellow
Height: 1 – 3 feet
Spread: 1 foot

3. Bleeding Heart

These shade-loving plants flower during the spring and have a lovely sweet smell. They are perennial and require little maintenance. 

They make a fantastic addition to a shady corner and the delicate flowers look amazing arching out of a hanging basket.

If they get too hot or too much sun they will die back but the roots will be fine and the plant will come back the next year.

Keep them well watered in the growing season, with the soil moist but not too wet.

Growing Zones: 3 – 9
Sun: Partial shade
Soil: Well-drained, moist
Colors: Red, White, Pink
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 3 feet

4. Foxglove

Foxglove is a beautiful, woodland flower that grows dramatically tall stems with many bell-shaped blossoms. Due, to the fact they are often found in woodlands, they are great shade-tolerant plants that hummingbirds’ long bill and tongue can reach into.

These are biennial plants, which means you need to plant the two years in a row as in their first year they do not produce flowers and then die off after their second year of flowering. They readily self-seed so you will get their dramatic display for many years.

Foxgloves are easy to grow from seed outside in late spring or late summer when temperatures are cooler.

Growing Zones: 4 – 8
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Slightly acidic, well-drained but moist.
Colors: Purple, pink, white
Height: 5 foot

5. Cardinal Flower

The long bright red tubular flowers of Cardinal flowers are designed for hummingbirds’ long bills.

These herbaceous perennials flower in late summer.  The bright red flowers appear on terminal spikes.

Cardinal flowers are not drought tolerant and prefer moist soil that does not dry out.

When planting cardinal flowers in pots ensure they are set in a tray of water that can be topped up easily.

Growing Zones: 3 – 9
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Rich, moist
Colors:  Red, pink, white
Height: 2 – 4 feet
Spread: 1 – 2 feet

6. Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is a vine with colorful clusters of tubular flowers that are among the first to attract hummingbirds when springtime arrives. Their fragrant smell fills the warm air in summer.

They like mild sunlight and moist soil, although they can tolerate dry spots, too. However, honeysuckle’s ability to survive in the shade leads many people to plant it under trees and along fences or walls as it is happy with its roots in the shade and head in the sun.

It is best to give them a trim to stop them from becoming too large and woody in winter.

Be careful as some honeysuckle is invasive, especially the Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), so stick to Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and check for your area what is invasive. Growing honeysuckle in pots is a great way to stop the spread of this plant outside of its intended area.

Growing Zones: 4 – 9
Sun: Full sun for flowers, shade for roots
Colors: yellow, red
Height: 10 – 15 feet
Spread: up to 80 feet

7. Impatiens

Bright and colorful annuals such as Impatiens are great at brightening up dark and shady areas, and these also attract hummingbirds.

They like moist and well-draining soil and deep shade, so hanging them on your porch will also work well.

Usually grown from plants bought in trays at nurseries and planted close together to create a dense mat of flowers and leaves.

Seeds can be collected from the plants and sown indoors 10 weeks before the last frost as they take a long time to flower. Cuttings can also be taken in the fall and grown indoors until the frost has passed.

Growing Zones: 2 – 11
Sun: Shade or partial shade
Soil: Rich, well-draining
Colors: Red, pink, purple, yellow, coral.
Height: 6 – 36 inches
Spread: 1 – 3 feet

8. Hydrangea

Hydrangeas’ huge flower heads are a wonderful addition to a shady area of your yard. These showy plants do not like it too hot, so shade is the preferred growing condition, especially in the afternoon.

They also like moist soil, so a large water once a week, especially in dry conditions, is needed. Pruning can be done once the flowers have died back in the winter.

Hydrangea flowers keep giving their exuberant display from spring until well into fall before the bloom fades but add interest in winter.

Growing Zones: 3 – 9
Sun: Full sun to shade
Soil: Fertile, well-draining
Colors: Pink, Red, White, Blue, Green
Height: 3 – 15ft
Spread: 2 – 12 feet

9. Ligularia

Ligularia is a fantastic addition to a shade garden. The tall spikes of flowers in bright yellow really pop against the green leaves.

The leaves of the ligularia add more interest and come in deep green and large heart shape or thin and deeply serrated.

They prefer moist soil, out of the heat of the day, and they will wilt of too hot and dry.

Hummingbirds will love to visit your shady garden if these flowers are there to welcome them.

Growing Zones: 4 – 8
Sun: partial shade
Soil: moist
Colors: yellow, orange-yellow
Height: 3 – 8 feet
Spread: 2 – 4 feet

Conclusion

I hope you have been inspired to plant some of these fantastic blooms that not only brighten up a shady spot in your yard but also get the hummingbirds visiting. My favorite is the hydrangea, as they come in so many shapes and colors, and the immense flower-heads pop in a dark area.