Compiled by the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, Inc. Printable PDF version here
Hummingbirds are mainly attracted to flowers in the red spectrum, from light orange to deep purple, although they will frequent flowers with other colors. The reason they prefer red flowers is that most insects avoid red flowers thus there is more nectar in them for hummingbirds. The typical hummingbird flower is a long flared tube, which keeps out rival pollinators and invites the birds to lap up tasty nectar with their long bills and tongues. While they subsist primarily on insects during late fall and winter, in spring and summer the feisty birds also take advantage of the profusion of native blooms. The following plants are hummingbird favorites and are drought-tolerant once established.
Types of Hummingbirds found in Southern California
The Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) is the most common hummingbird found in Southern California gardens and is also the largest of the species.
The Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is the smallest hummingbird and can be identified by it's dark purple/blue gorget (throat patch).
- Aquilegia formosa, Scarlet Columbine
- Berberis nevinii, Nevin’s Barberry
- Calliandra californica, California Fairyduster and Calliandra eriophylla, Fairyduster
- Ceanothus species.
- Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow
- Galvezia juncea, Island bush snapdragon and Galvezia speciosa, Baja snapdragon
- Heuchera spp., Coral bells, Alum-Root/ Dainty pinkish flowers on long nodding stalks provide “hummingbird candy.”
- Iris species
- Mimulus species., Monkey Flower. Attractive to both hummingbirds and bees.
- Penstemon species. Bell-shaped flowers in a range of reds, blues and violets attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.
- Phacelia Species. Phacelia
- Salvia spathacea, Hummingbird sage Each rosette of this low-growing plant forms a long stalk of irresistible carmine flowers in early spring.
LATE SPRING THROUGH MID-SUMMER
- Salvia species. Sage. Whorls of fragrant blue, purple, or white flowers attract hummingbirds and beneficial insects.
- Trichostema lanatum, Woolly Blue Curls. Hummingbird heaven. Light irrigation extends the blooming season through summer and fall.
LATE SUMMER AND FALL
- Epilobium canum ssp. canum California Fuchsia. A hummingbird favorite, Epilobium blooms when many other natives are dormant. There are many cultivars of California fuchsia to choose from, from low growing groundcovers to small shrubs. Flower colors range from white through rich reds. Stick to the reds for the best opportunities to attract hummingbirds.
- Arctostaphylos species, Manzanita. Nectar-rich blooms attract insect prey that helps resident hummingbirds raise their first brood.
- Isomeris arborea, Bladderpod. Loved by bumblebees and hummingbirds, Bladderpod blooms almost continuously year-round