There are plenty of reasons to grow a garden! You may want to enhance your curb appeal, make your home more beautiful, or create a gorgeous outdoor retreat.
If you’re like many others who love hummingbirds, you also garden with these delightful little birds in mind. Lantana is a popular plant across much of the Southern US, but does it help to attract hummingbirds?
Good news for people who like lantana and its delicate, colorful blooms: hummingbirds do like lantana! It’s a great option to add to any garden that you are designing to appeal to hummingbirds.
Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating world of hummingbirds and lantana.
What Is Lantana
Lantana is a prominent flowering plant known for its striking array of colorful flowers. Within the genus, there exist over 150 species and numerous hybrid varieties of lantana, making it a versatile choice for gardeners seeking to beautify their outdoor spaces and attract hummingbirds.
Lantana is shrubby, typically reaching a height of 2-6 feet and a width of 10 feet, depending on the specific variety. Its foliage consists of opposite leaves that vary in size and shape, with some exhibiting serrated edges. The leaves are green.
The most captivating aspect of lantana is undoubtedly its plentiful blooms! Lantana blossoms are small, tubular, and clustered together in round, umbrella-like inflorescences known as umbels.
These umbels are composed of numerous tiny florets, and the flowers themselves can be found in an array of vibrant colors, including shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and lavender. Some lantana varieties even boast multi-colored blooms, creating a kaleidoscope of hues. These blooms have a distinctive and unusual smell.
Lantana’s Seasonal Patterns
Lantana plants are popular with gardeners because they have a long blooming window, often producing flowers from late spring through the first frost of fall. This extended bloom time makes lantana an appealing choice for gardeners who love hummingbirds because lantana ends up providing hummingbirds food for the entire season.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Lantana
Lantana varieties typically thrive in full sun, although some can tolerate partial shade. They do best in hardiness zones 7-11, making them more common in the southern US.
They are well-suited to well-drained soil with a preference for slightly acidic to neutral pH levels. Trailing varieties do well with a trellis, fence, or other support structure.
Why Are Hummingbirds Attracted to Lantana?
The attraction of hummingbirds to colorful lantana flowers is rooted in the birds’ exceptional ability to perceive a wide spectrum of colors. Hummingbirds can see more colors than humans.
Hummingbirds are equipped with four types of cones in their eyes, whereas humans only have three. This extra set of cones enables hummingbirds to perceive ultraviolet (UV) light, granting them access to a realm of colors invisible to the human eye.
When a hummingbird gazes upon a lantana flower, it beholds a broader spectrum of colors than we can fathom. Many lantana blooms feature UV-reflecting patterns and spots that serve as visual beacons, guiding the birds towards the nectar-rich reward.
While we may perceive lantana as radiant and beautiful, hummingbirds view them as vibrant, UV-marked landing zones.
What Do the UV Markings Look Like on Lantana Blooms?
Photographers who take pictures under UV light can give us an idea of the markings that hummingbirds see when they are looking for nectar.
A group of white, yellow, and pink umbels may appear to have spots and streaks under UV light.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat? (Including Lantana!)
Lantana provides hummingbirds with plenty of nectar, but is nectar all they need to survive?
Hummingbirds eat a lot.
The San Diego Zoo writes:
“Even though hummingbirds are small in size, they have a large appetite. Their diet is mostly liquid—nectar—and these birds get plenty of exercise with all that zipping around just to get from sip to sip. These petite birds consume between 3.14 and 7.6 calories a day. That may not seem like much, but if humans (who may eat 3,500 calories a day) had the metabolism of a hummingbird, they would have to consume approximately 155,000 calories a day. That’s about 77 times as much as most humans eat! The hummingbird’s need for lots of calories is due to its high heart rate and small body size. Some hummers have been observed visiting 20 flowers a minute, and with their hover-and-sip style of feeding, they keep beating their wings and working out even while they eat.”
You might have heard that hummingbirds eat thousands of calories per day, but the truth is that they eat about their own weight in food every day. This equates to about 3-4 grams for the average adult hummingbird, which is around 14 calories per day.
14 doesn’t sound like a lot to humans, but in comparison, humans would have to eat more than 100,000 calories per day to match the metabolism and food consumption of a hummingbird.
The 2 Main Components of a Hummingbird’s Diet
Insects: During the breeding season, hummingbirds capture and consume an astonishing number of insects daily, sometimes exceeding 2,000 insects per day. Their insect prey includes fruit flies, ants, aphids, beetles, mites, weevils, mosquitoes, and even small spiders. Hummingbirds will even pluck insects from spider webs, stealing the spider’s meal.
Nectar: Nectar, the sweet liquid found in flowers, constitutes another vital part of the hummingbird diet. It can be sourced from two main locations: flowers and feeders. Although planting nectar-rich flowers is always going to be the most natural and best method to attract hummingbirds, you can always supplement their diet with clean, full hummingbird feeders.
Is Lantana a Calorie-Rich Food for Hummingbirds?
Lantana’s plentiful blooms make it an ideal calorie source for hummingbirds. While individual lantana flowers may be petite, these plants have so many blooms (umbels) that they are an excellent source of nectar for busy little hummingbirds.
Preferred Lantana Varieties for Hummingbirds
With numerous varieties available, you might wonder if you should plant one variety of lantana plants instead of another if you want to draw hummingbirds to your landscaping.
Lantana tends to come in pink, yellow, purple, orange, and red. These are great hummingbird colors! You can choose just about any lantana and expect it to be appealing to the hummingbirds in your neighborhood.
Additional Flowers That Captivate Hummingbirds:
In addition to lantana, hummingbirds are drawn to a diverse array of flowers, including:
- Trumpet Vine
- Trumpet Creeper
- Coral Honeysuckle
- Red Hot Poker
- Cardinal Flower
- Bee Balm
- Scarlet Sage
- Red Sage
- Hummingbird Mint
- Mexican Sunflower
- Bleeding Heart
How To Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard!
To create an environment that entices hummingbirds to your garden, consider these strategies:
- Select a variety of flowers that bloom sequentially throughout the seasons, as this provides a season-long supply of nectar.
- Combine both annual and perennial plants to establish a low-maintenance habitat that consistently attracts hummingbirds year after year.
- Incorporate native plants and drought-resistant grasses into your garden design to reduce the need for excessive watering.
- Refrain from using pesticides, as they can prove harmful to both hummingbirds and the insects they rely on as a food source.
- Provide shaded areas within your garden where hummingbirds can rest and cool off on hot days.
- Supply clean, fresh water in a small birdbath for drinking and bathing, as hummingbirds require hydration as much as they do nectar.
Should You Add a Hummingbird Feeder?
While planting tubular, colorful flowers like lantana, the optimal approach to attracting hummingbirds, you can further welcome them by introducing sugar-water feeders. Please only start putting out feeders if you are committed to keeping them clean and full. Dirty feeders can spread disease, and empty ones discourage hummingbirds from visiting again.
We discourage the use of red food dye, because there are concerns about its safety. Instead, you can just use a feeder with red components.
Plant Lantana and Enjoy More Hummingbirds in Your Yard!
Incorporating lantana into your garden offers an enchanting invitation to hummingbirds.
Our favorite backyard acrobats are drawn to the vibrant, nectar-rich blooms of lantana, which provide the essential high-energy nectar they need to fuel their busy activities.
By planting various lantana varieties alongside other tubular flowers in hues of red, orange, yellow, and pink, you can provide a continuous supply of nectar throughout the seasons. Additionally, the inclusion of water sources and insect-friendly plants will contribute to the creation of a thriving hummingbird habitat.
Using lantana as one of the elements of your hummingbird-friendly garden will bring you plenty of delightful hummingbird visits for years to come. Enjoy your new backyard visitors!