Hanging Baskets for Attracting Hummingbirds

Hanging baskets are a great way to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Once they find your flowers, they will return again and again, to dine on them all season long.


Tips for Selecting Flowers

Hummingbirds feed often - about every 10 minutes. In fact, in a single day they typically eat many times their body weight in sugar. When selecting flowers for your hummingbird baskets, look for nectar-rich, tubular or trumpet-shaped blooms, which the birds will be able access easily with their long, trough-like tongues.

Aim for a variety of different flowers, and be careful about using too many hybrids, as they tend to produce less nectar than their "wilder" cousins. Regardless of which types of flowers you choose, make sure that all of the plants in each basket share similar food, water, and light requirements. Here are some other important points to consider:

  • Growth habit. Hummingbirds feed while hovering in midair and rapidly beating their wings (up to 100 beats per minute). To facilitate easy feeding, choose trailing plants with blooms that protrude cleanly from the plant's foliage.
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  • Flower color. Hummingbirds rely on their eyesight to find food. According to ornithologists, they most attracted to the color red, which they can see from great distances. Although red may be the color most likely to draw them in, they will happily drink nectar from flowers of any color.
  • Flower abundance. These tiny birds are efficient feeders. Baskets featuring plants with prolific amounts of open blooms, like Million Bells, will be visited more often than plants with only a few large blooms, such as hibiscus.
  • Bloom time. Plan for an extended season of blooming. This can be done by planting several different baskets with staggered bloom times, or by selecting plants that bloom continuously throughout the flowering season (e.g. petunias).

    Northern gardeners will still want to offer nectar in traditional hummingbird feeders for hummers that return to breed in the spring before the growing season has gotten fully underway.

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  • Provide water. Hummingbirds love water, but they don't necessarily bathe the same way that other garden birds do. Instead, they prefer to brush against wet leaves after it rains, fly through misting water, or splash in shallow basins to get clean. After their bath, they find a perch to preen their feathers, and may even take short sun-bath to dry off.

Selecting Baskets

Hummingbirds are not at all picky about what type of basket you use, although wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss are a nice choice, as lichen and moss are their preferred nesting materials. A basket 12 inches or more in diameter will be easiest to maintain and will be more visually appealing because it can hold more plants.

Hanging Your Baskets

When hanging your hummingbird basket, choose a sunny location that is sheltered from the wind. Ideally, it will be near enough to a patio or deck to allow you to closely watch their activities. Male hummingbirds can be quite territorial. Hanging a second basket out of view of the first (e.g. one in the backyard and one in the front yard) can help reduce competition among birds.

If you are using a pole system or Shepard's hook to support your basket, seal the pipe seams with a small amount of clear silicone gel. There have been reports of birds injuring their tiny feet by accidentally getting them stuck in between the seams of the poles.

Try to hang your basket in the same place each year. Hummingbirds have very reliable memories and will look for hanging baskets in the same location year after year.

Flowers Recommended for Hummingbird Baskets:


  • begonia
  • cigar plants
  • cosmos
  • four-o-clock
  • fuchsia
  • geranium (trailing types)
  • impatiens
  • lantana
  • million bells
  • nasturtium
  • nicotiana
  • parrot's beak
  • petunias
  • phlox
  • salvia
  • scaevola
  • shrimp plant


  • agastache
  • bee balm
  • coral bells
  • dwarf delphinium
  • penstemon
  • phlox
  • salvia
  • snap dragon
  • verbena
  • veronica

Vines & Climbers:

  • canary creeper
  • cardinal climber
  • Caroline jasmine
  • clematis
  • cypress vine
  • honeysuckle vine
  • morning glory
  • scarlet runner
  • trumpet creeper

Hummingbird Feeding from Flower

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com


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