These shrubs all have amazing flowers that not only look fantastic but attract hummingbirds again and again.
The best part about gardening is not just seeing your plants thrive under your green thumb. It’s when your backyard becomes host to hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds love red and purple nectar-rich flowers, and there are a surprising number of shrubs that will not only attract hummingbirds but can provide year-round interest to your backyard.
Shrubs or bushes are small to medium-sized plants with multiple stems above ground all year and grow to less than 10 meters tall. They are perfect for growing in your backyard because they provide beautiful flowers, some of them with fragrances, and they attract hummingbirds and butterflies, too.
Shrubs may lose their leaves in winter or keep them all year, depending on the variety you choose. Also, some of these shrubs thrive in shady conditions, and some prefer full sun.
So whatever planting needs you have, there is a shrub or bush that you can use to attract more hummers to your yard.
9 Shrubs to Attract Hummingbirds:
Rhododendrons are a large group of woody plants belonging to the heather family, Ericaceae. There are about 1,000 species of rhododendrons ranging from tiny shrubs to large trees. These evergreen shrubs are often used in ornamental landscaping because most hardy plants lose their leaves or die from the frost. They also have bright and colorful flowers.
It is easy to differentiate rhododendrons from azaleas, their most similar species. Most rhododendrons have bell-shaped, colorful flowers with ten stamens, while azaleas have one funnel-shaped flower with five stamens per stem. Rhododendrons have many flowers per stem, azaleas only have one, but since there are many stems to a shrub, this difference is hard to see.
With many varieties of rhododendrons, it is possible to plant and cultivate them all year long, especially if you have mild climates. However, early spring planting is your best choice when you live in an area with cold temperatures.
When you have hotter weather, early fall is the right time. Rhododendrons thrive better in environments that are not too hot and not too cold. You have to give them time to acclimate to the temperatures when you plant them.
Soil preparation for rhododendrons is important. You have to keep soil acidity between a pH of 4.5 – 5.5. Do a soil test to make sure. If the pH is too high, apply a small amount of agricultural sulfur or iron sulfate. However, if the pH is too low, apply ground limestone.
Allow rhododendrons to receive 6 hours of full sunlight when you live in colder climates (Zones 4-6) but give them ample shade when you live in hotter regions (Zones 7-11). Make sure they have well-irrigated soil and avoid getting the roots soaked in water.
Hummingbirds are attracted to rhododendrons because they have a variety of colors like pink, purple, red, white, and yellow.
- Growing Zones: 4 – 11
- Sun: Partial shade
- Soil: Well-drained, Acidic
- Colors: Pink, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow
- Height: 18 inches to 50 feet
- Spread: 2 – 3 feet
- Plant type: Trees, Shrubs, Vine
Hibiscus plants are from the mallow family, Malvaceae, and there are hundreds of varieties, including perennials and evergreens. Some perennials, like the Hibiscus coccineus, can grow in Zones 6 to 9, while some evergreens, like the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, can grow year-round in Zones 9 and 10.
Hibiscus plants are characterized by large, trumpet-like flowers that may be colored red, yellow, pink, orange, and white. They may have five or more petals. Some single-bloom varieties flower for only one to three days. Some tropical hibiscus species are able to flower repeatedly during their season.
Depending on the region, most Hibiscus plants start to flower from mid to late spring or mid to late summer. Some have also been known to flower until fall, but that may only be possible if the climate is mild.
If you want your hibiscus plants to flower, make sure they receive up to 6 hours of full sunlight daily. Watering your hibiscus depends on the weather. If it’s too hot, give it water daily. If it’s average, a couple of times a week will be enough, as long as the soil is moist. If it gets cold, hold off on watering until the soil is dry, and make sure to keep the plant indoors because they don’t really tolerate cold weather.
Hibiscus plants are a sight to behold when they’re in full bloom, and it’s understandable why they can attract hummingbirds. Taking care of your hibiscus will keep hummingbirds coming to your backyard for sure.
- Growing Zones: 6 – 10
- Sun: Full Sun
- Soil: Well-drained,
- Colors: Red, Yellow, Pink, Orange, and White
- Height: 3 – 8 feet
- Spread: 3 – 5 feet
- Plant Type: Perennial, Evergreen
3. Native Buddleia
Buddleia refers to a family of over 140 species of flowering plants. They are more commonly called “butterfly bushes” because butterflies flock to them because of their nectar and honey-scented flowers.
The most common Buddleia variant is the Buddleia davidii which originates from China. Unfortunately, this species has been declared an invasive species in most US regions because it spreads its seeds and can grow unrestrained in natural areas. They tend to overcrowd native plants and have been deemed as a noxious weed. Be careful not to buy the purple davidii variety.
However, other Buddleia species are available to grow in your pot or backyard, like Dwarf varieties that only grow up to 8 or 10 feet. There are also sterile varieties and native varieties that you can grow, such as Rio Grande Butterfly Bush (Buddleia sessiliflora), Wand Butterfly Bush (Buddleia racemosa), Escobilla Butterfly Bush (Buddleia scordioides), and Fountain Butterfly Bush (Buddleja alternifolia).
Keep these Buddleia plants in full sunlight to help them produce more flowers. They’re drought-tolerant, so watering is easy. Just make sure to keep them moist during a long dry spell.
Even though they’re called butterfly bushes, and butterflies tend to flock to them, hummingbirds are also attracted to them, but they prefer the red and purple varieties of Buddleia.
- Growing Zones: 5 – 10
- Sun: Full Sun
- Soil: Well-drained
- Colors: Pink, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow
- Height: 4 to 10 feet
- Spread: up to 5 feet
- Plant type: Perennials, Evergreen
Abelia is a group of 30 species and hybrids originally belonging to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.
Abelia are shrubs that can grow up to 6 meters tall and about 3 to 6 meters wide. Abelia species from warm climates are evergreen, while those in the colder regions are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves during winter.
You will recognize abelia shrubs when you see their delicate, trumpet-like flowers, mostly colored pink and white with hints of lavender. What’s also striking is their leaves, which can turn from greenish yellow (spring) to gold (summer) and red (fall) as the seasons change.
It’s not hard to grow abelia plants since they need little maintenance. Place them in an area where they’ll get full sunlight, water them but only to keep the soil moist and leave the pruning for removing dead branches to encourage the growth of new shoots.
You can enjoy abelia foliage and flowers for a long time since they flower from spring to fall in warm climates. During this period, expect to see a lot of hummingbirds and butterflies that are attracted to its bell-shaped flowers and their fragrant scent.
- Growing Zones: 6 – 9
- Sun: Full Sun
- Soil: Well-drained
- Colors: Pink and White
- Height: 3 – 6 feet
- Spread: 3 – 6 feet
- Plant type: Evergreen, Deciduous Shrub
North America has 16 native species of azaleas, and they’re all deciduous Deciduous azaleas that drop all of their leaves in the fall and they grow back in the spring. They mostly flower in colors that range from white to pink and from yellow to orange.
Azaleas are flowering plants that belong to the Rhododendron family. One way to distinguish them from rhododendrons is to check the number of stamens. Azaleas generally have 5 stamens, while rhododendrons have 10. Also, while azaleas have smaller and thinner leaves, rhododendrons have large, impressive evergreen foliage.
Asian azaleas are mostly evergreen. They have colors that range from white to purple to red, but no yellow azaleas. Though they are called evergreen, they still do drop some of their leaves in the fall because they grow two sets of leaves. Spring leaves are the ones that drop in the fall, and they’re mostly thinner and larger. Summer leaves are thicker and smaller, but they do not fall in the winter.
Azaleas have many varieties but generally, most flower in the spring, around April and May, and some around June through September. Azaleas thrive in loose, moist, or well-drained, acidic soil (4.5 – 6.0 ph). If azaleas show signs of drooping because of too much sun or exposure to winds, revive them with slow watering.
Azalea flowers carry a floral scent that attracts hummingbirds. Their nectar is the treat that will make hummingbirds return to your backyard.
- Growing Zones: 7 – 9
- Sun: Filtered sunlight, partial shade
- Soil: Well-drained, acidic
- Colors: Pink, Lavender, yellow-orange, and white
- Height: as high as 10 feet
- Spread:3 – 5 feet
- Plant type: Evergreen, Deciduous shrubs
Weigela belongs to the family Caprifoliaceae, a group of 6 to 38 species of deciduous shrubs native to Eastern Asia. It is a popular ornamental shrub because of its hardiness in most regions of the US, its low-maintenance care, and its abundant colorful flowers that are guaranteed to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
One of the reasons weigela is attractive is its leaves. They come in a wide range of colors, from green to gold and deep red, and some even have variegated leaves (or leaves with patterns or a combination of colors). Some even have a glossy finish.
Of course, its flowers are also a sight to behold. They’re tubular and have 5 petals and come in a variety of colors – white, pink, red, yellow, and even lavender. They bloom from mid to late spring and thrive when you plant them during the fall with full sun. Some variegated varieties are more suited for partial shading as they can burn when it’s too hot.
When planting weigela, make sure that you leave ample room for it to spread. Pruning may be necessary only to remove older dead branches and keep your shrub’s shape. Keep the soil moist and expose it to at least 6 hours of sun to get the best flowers.
- Growing Zones: 4 – 8
- Sun: Full sun, partial shade
- Soil: Well-drained, moderately acidic soil
- Colors: red, pink, white, yellow, and lavender
- Height: 3 – 10 feet tall
- Spread: up to 12 feet
- Plant Type: Deciduous
7. Cape Myrtle
Crape Myrtle or crepe myrtle, with the Latin name Lagerstroemia, belongs to the Lythraceae family. They are deciduous and evergreen shrubs originally from India, Asia, and Australia. They are sometimes called crepe myrtle because their flower petals have a crepe-like texture.
These Crape Myrtle trees or shrubs are brilliant additions to backyards because of their bright, large flowers, peeling bark in winter, and foliage that changes color in the fall. There are many varieties to grow, from single to multi-stemmed trees, smaller shrubs, and even dwarf trees as small as 2 to 5 feet tall.
Like most deciduous trees and shrubs, it’s best to plant them during fall or early spring to get their roots adjusted before the cold of winter or the heat of summer hits. They need at least 6 hours of full sunlight to encourage large, full blooms. They flower in mid-May and early June.
To ensure that your Crape Myrtle tree flower profusely, it is essential that you prune old and dead branches carefully. Give the new plants room to grow, so remove crisscrossing branches, short twigs, and branches that grow toward the center. Shrubs hardly need pruning except maybe to remove old and dead branches.
With their bright-colored flowers and a varying range of height, it’s easy to see why hummingbirds and butterflies love hanging around Crape Myrtles.
- Growing Zones: 7 – 10
- Sun: Full sun
- Soil: Moist soil
- Colors: dark purple, dark red, bright pink, magenta, and white
- Height: trees 15 – 20 feet, shrubs 5 – 7 feet
- Spread:trees 15 – 20 feet, shrubs 5 – 7 feet
- Plant Type: Deciduous shrubs or trees
Summersweet is a flowering shrub that looks great and attracts hummingbirds to your backyard.
Clethra alnifolia is the scientific name of the coastal sweet pepperbush or Summersweet. It is a flowering plant from the Clethraceae family that is native to eastern North America. It thrives in most climates but primarily in wetlands and edges of ponds and streams.
Summersweet is characterized by vertical spikes of spicy-smelling white flowers against dark green foliage. Their green leaves turn yellow or gold in autumn. Their name “pepper” comes from the brown seed capsules that look like peppercorns that are dropped after the flowers bloom.
Summersweet flowers bloom between July and August. They are 2 to 6 inches long and are colored white or pink. They give off a hint of fragrant scent that is extremely attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Also, the pepper-like seeds attract birds during autumn.
Since they’re coastal flowers originally, these flowers grow best in moist to wet soil and in the shade. In fact, flowers bloom larger when they’re in the shade than when exposed to too much sunlight. When the weather gets too dry, it’s best to keep them well-hydrated. They can even tolerate salty air as they are originally from that region.
The best care you can give Summersweet is to give them room when you plant them, as they can spread pretty wide. Maintain the wetness of the soil and prune old branches during spring to encourage new growth and redefine the shape of your Summersweet shrub.
- Growing Zones: 3 – 9
- Sun: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: moist to wet soil, slightly acidic
- Colors: white, pink, or rose-colored
- Height: 4 – 8 feet tall
- Spread: 4 – 6 feet wide
- Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Viburnum now belongs to the family Adoxaceae with over 150 species of flowering plants. It used to be classified under the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. Deciduous shrubs and trees are native to temperate North America, while some varieties are evergreens from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia.
Viburnum flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies because they have a variety of nectar-rich shapely flowers. You will also love them because some of them have intoxicating fragrances, like Cayuga and Burkwood. They also have very interesting leaf colors, like purplish-red or blue-green. Finally, their berries also have eye-catching colors, like red, pink, purple, blue, and black.
Early spring to late summer is the flowering season for Viburnum for most varieties. However, there are some like the Bodnant Viburnum that flower in winter. After these flowers bloom, get ready for the showcase of brilliantly-colored fruits and captivating fall foliage.
Most viburnums prefer to grow with their fill of sunlight, about 6 hours worth, and this will ensure the best flowers, bountiful fruits, and fall foliage. There are some varieties that will also thrive with partial shade. While they may vary in sunlight needs, they all prefer well-draining soil and a bit of pruning after flowering to remove old, dead, and broken branches.
Viburnums are a perfect asset to your backyard – they have fragrance, colorful flowers, and foliage, and they even have eye-catching fruits. Hummingbirds will surely find their way toward your viburnums.
- Growing Zones: 2 – 9
- Sun: Full sun, Partial sun
- Soil: Moist but well-drained soil
- Colors: white, pink
- Height: 3 – 8 feet, 8 – 20 feet
- Spread: 3 to 12 feet wide, depending on the type
- Plant type: Evergreen, Deciduous shrub