The sight of hummingbirds in the garden always brings a smile to my face. It doesn’t matter how busy I may be – I will stop whatever I’d doing to just watch their antics as they search for the ‘best’ bloom to feed from.
While the sight of hummingbird feeders is commonplace in many gardens, you don’t have to rely on them to attract these ‘flying jewels’ in the summer. In the low desert, where I live, there are many flowering shrubs that will ensure I’ll have hummingbirds to watch.
Today, I’d like to share with you five, summer-blooming shrubs that you’ll find in my garden that will be sure to beckon hummingbirds near and far to yours as well.
The graceful arching branches of the shrub are covered with bright-green, narrow leaves that add a welcome shade of green. Deep orange tubular flowers are the perfect size for hummingbirds to stick their beaks into. I like plants that have a long bloom period and Coral Fountain doesn’t disappoint – it blooms spring through early fall. It take a couple of years to really get growing but the little patience it takes is SO worth it.
Plant in full to filtered sunlight. Pair with purple or yellow flowering plants for great color contrast. Coral Fountain also does great in large pots. It is hardy to 20 degrees F.
One of the most exciting new(er) plants on the market is ‘Sparky’ Tecoma. It’s a relative of the more common Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans) and is named after my alma mater’s (ASU) mascot, ‘Sparky’. What’s fun about this shrub is that it has bi-colored flowers, which appear throughout the warm season. They are a very pale orange on the outside and center is a deep maroon color. There are several wonderful Tecoma species available ranging from shades of yellow, orange, to red, and all attract hummingbirds.
Use in full to reflected, sun. These are larger shrubs so allow enough room for them to grow. They are ideal for beautifying a bare wall. Hardy to 20 degrees F.
If you have bright shady areas in your garden such as underneath a desert tree, this small shrub is for you. Mexican Honeysuckle has lush green foliage, which adds a visual cooling effect in the landscape. Orange, tubular flowers appear off and on throughout the year with the heaviest bloom occurring in spring. It is very easy to maintain needing little to no pruning. I have one growing in my hummingbird container garden where it has thrived for five years.
Plant in bright to filtered shade (avoid full sun in the desert garden). Group in three’s or five’s for maximum impact. Hardy to 15 degrees F.
One of the easiest plants to grow is Lantana. They come in several species but the one that I find attracts the most hummingbirds are Bush Lantana (Lantana camara). This species grows taller than the others and almost always has multi-colored flowers. While there are several color combinations available ranging from pink/yellow, orange/red, my favorite are the ‘Radiation’ Lantanas with magenta/orange/yellow blooms. Bush Lantana are among the most colorful shrubs for the summer garden.
Plant in full sun for best flowering. Lantana are also a good choice for using in pots for summer color. Prune back severely in spring for best appearance. Hardy to 20 degrees F.
Perhaps one of the most ‘showy’ summer bloomers is Red Bird-of-Paradise. Despite their large size, they have light, lacy foliage that adds lovely texture to the desert garden. They wait until temperatures begin to rise into the 90’s before bursting forth with large colorful flowers. Not surprisingly, the orange/yellow/red colors have hummingbirds making a beeline for them. The key to success with this big shrub is to give them plenty of room to grow in full sun. In early spring, prune back severely to 1 1/2 feet tall to keep them lush and reduce woodiness – they do grow back quickly.
Plant in full sun. Use in groups of three, or more to create an informal hedge or delineate a property line. Hardy to 15 degrees F.
*These are just five of many summer-bloomers that will attract hummingbirds to your desert garden. Another notable favorite to try is Baja Fairy Duster, which we featured in a separate post last year.
What plants do hummingbirds visit in your summer garden?
Noelle Johnson, aka, AZ Plant Lady, is a horticulturist, landscape consultant and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the Phoenix area. She is the author of the popular blog, Ramblings From a Desert Garden, and instructor at the Desert Botanical Garden. Noelle is a noted speaker throughout the Southwest and teaches people how to garden in the desert with her popular online course, ‘Desert Gardening 101’ and membership club.