Calibrachoa, also known as Million Bells, is a genus of flowering plants with impressive, deep flowers mostly native to South America, though they’re grown as ornamental plants in many locations, including in hanging baskets.
Their beautiful flowers are impressive to the human eye, but let’s take a look at whether or not they’ll also catch the eye of our favorite backyard pollinators, including hummingbirds.
What Is Calibrachoa?
Calibrachoa flowers are often compared with petunias, and their other name, Million Bells, refers to the number of flowers that grow from each plant.
They can light up a hanging basket or flower pot in a stunning display with the sheer amount of color they provide.
According to the National Garden Bureau, it’s a rather new flower in terms of human cultivation.
The group states that the plants first made their way onto the United States market in the late 1980s. In the less than 40 years since then, they’ve grown in popularity.
Wild species and subspecies include the following, according to the World Flora Online Wild Plant List:
- Calibrachoa caesia
- Calibrachoa cordifolia
- Calibrachoa dusenii
- Calibrachoa eglandulata
- Calibrachoa elegans
- Calibrachoa ericifolia
- Calibrachoa excellens
- Calibrachoa felipponei
- Calibrachoa hassleriana
- Calibrachoa heterophylla
- Calibrachoa humilis
- Calibrachoa irgangiana
- Calibrachoa linoides
- Calibrachoa longistyla
- Calibrachoa micrantha
- Calibrachoa missionica
- Calibrachoa ovalifolia
- Calibrachoa paranensis
- Calibrachoa parviflora
- Calibrachoa pubescens
- Calibrachoa pygmea
- Calibrachoa scabridula
- Calibrachoa sellowiana
- Calibrachoa sendtneriana
- Calibrachoa serrulata
- Calibrachoa spathulata
- Calibrachoa thymifolia
Do Hummingbirds Like Calibrachoa Flowers?
Calibrachoa flowers certainly have the look that is commonly associated with top hummingbird attractants, with deep tubular flowers in a variety of bright colors, including brilliant reds and pinks.
Most hummingbird species are native to Central America and South America, where the nectar from Calibrachoa is certainly on the menu.
There are also Calibrachoa species native to North America, especially in southern locations.
In the rest of North America, where Calibrachoa plants are grown for their beauty as a part of a flower garden or in a hanging basket, hummingbirds may also visit these plants as one of their daily stops in their never-ending quest for food.
Each hummingbird’s food preference is going to depend largely on what’s closest to their nests, cover, and other food sources. Hummingbirds eat the human equivalent of over 100,000 calories in order to sustain their daily activities, so they’ve got to be economical.
What About Other Wildlife?
The Johnson Nursery Corporation states that while Calibrachoa isn’t “deer resistant,” necessarily, “deer do not seem to be interested in grazing on them.”
In addition to hummingbirds, other pollinators like bees and butterflies are likely to visit and pollinate Calibrachoa flowers.
How To Grow Calibrachoa Plants
I can’t pretend to be an expert in the specifics required to grow most plants, so I’ll defer to the experts over at Gardeners’ World Magazine:
They suggest partial shade with about six hours of sunlight per day, keeping them well-watered while draining excess soil. They grow best in pots and baskets, though that doesn’t mean they can never be planted in the ground.
For more on how to grow Calibrachoa plants, click the link above.
Where Are Calibrachoa Plants Native To?
Most species are native to South America and Central America, which is also where most hummingbirds are native. One Calibrachoa species is most commonly associated with native residence in parts of the United States, Calibrachoa parviflora.
This plant’s common name is the seaside petunia, though it’s not a petunia at all. According to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, it may be native to the Gulf Coast states and California in addition to Mexico and South America, while it has also been found in the Northeast for quite some time.
The center reports that it was found in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn in the 1800s, but it was likely brought there in the dry ballast of ships.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Other Flowers Do Hummingbirds Like?
Hummingbirds are most commonly associated with brightly colored, tubular-shaped flowers, especially red, orange, yellow, and pink ones.
Among the flowers typically considered their favorites are cardinal flower, beebalms, honeysuckles, hummingbird trumpet, columbine, and lupine, though any nectar-providing flower has some opportunity to receive hummingbird visits.
What Else Can You Do To Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard?
Most of a hummingbird’s diet is typically insects and small spiders, so in addition to natural nectar-rich flowers and feeders, hummingbirds need insects.
Filling your yard with native plants will help the insects immensely, and in turn, it will help the hummingbirds and other songbirds.
And if you want to see hummingbirds regularly, getting them to nest in your yard is the best way to do that. This requires not only food but adequate cover and nesting habitat. Tall deciduous trees as well as shorter bushes for cover will help hummingbirds feel safe in your yard and enhance your chances of making them regular residents in your location.
Fresh water in a bird bath or from a natural source like a pond or river can also be a bonus.