Hummingbirds need nectar-filled flowers to survive. They also need fresh, clean water to drink and sunny and shady areas. Provide perching and nesting areas to attract them to your garden for the entire summer. Some hummingbirds become dependent on one garden for their food source. Hummingbirds are attracted to flower color and nectar.
Bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis) produce foliage that reaches 3 feet in height. The large, shiny dark green leaves have soft spine on each of the lobe tips. In late summer, a flower stalk grows to 5 feet tall. Creamy white, pink or purple flowers cluster at the top of this stalk. Bear’s breeches prefer moist, enriched soil and light to moderate shade. Root pieces broken off of the parent plant contributes to the growth of the 4 foot wide clump. In some areas, this flower is considered invasive.
Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) grow 2 to 5 feet tall. The green, lance-shaped leaves grow up and down the stem. Bright red flowers appear in August. These wildflowers are tube-shaped with flaring petal tips. The native habitat of the cardinal flower is in boggy woodlands, so mulch around the plant to keep the roots damp. This is one of the favorite flowers of the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is also called the summer lilac. A mature butterfly bush grows to 10 feet tall. In one season, it can grow 5 to 8 feet from ground level. The leaves are 4 to 10 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. The gray-green leaves are white and fuzzy underneath. The butterfly bush blooms from July to the first frost. Deadhead the dying flowers to encourage continued blossoming. Prune the bush down to the ground in the early spring to create a vigorous growing plant.