Nectar Plants for Hummingbirds in California

The perfect way to make sure hummingbirds grace your garden is to grow nectar plants. These fascinating creatures prefer tubular-shaped blooms of orange or red. However, hummingbirds are not only after the nectar, or sugar, in your plants, they also need the fat and protein that they get from insects on other flowers. Once hummingbirds find a good food location, they will come back the next year. Most importantly, when planning a hummingbird garden, you must not spray your garden with harmful chemical pesticides, as they can sicken the hummingbirds.


Columbines love moist, rich soil, but will adapt to alternate conditions and soil types. This wildflower reseeds itself readily. You may find them sprouting up in locations you would prefer they were not. Simply pull them up or transplant them in another area of your garden. They grow from 1 to 3 feet in height, depending on the variety, and bloom from May through June. Columbines are perennials, yet you will need to replace them every three to four years, as they loose their vitality. These flowers grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9, which encompasses all of California. Columbines come in orange, red and almost any other color you prefer.

Western Azalea

With over 1,400 species of the western azalea to choose from, you are bound to find the perfect one for your hummingbird garden. Make sure the location you choose for this flowering shrub is adequate, as it can grow to 6 feet in height. Choose from white or pink blooms. Some varieties may also have yellow markings. It's nice to find a plant that prefers shade, when so many are sun lovers. The azalea also prefers a slightly acid soil. To learn your soil's acid level, pick up a pH (acid) tester at your local garden center or nursery.

Monkey Flowers

The California monkey flower is so named because the bloom creates the image of a grinning monkey, some say. These plants grow particularly well in rock gardens, in full sun. However, they will also grow in a partial or full shade location. Monkey flowers like moist soil, but prefer not to be watered to the sopping stage. If you live in the Sierras or along the coast in California the Orange Bush Monkey Flower does especially well in those locations. For southern California, choose the Narrow Leaf Southern Monkey Flower, which is an apricot color.

Keywords: nectar plants, hummingbird garden, hummingbird plants