There are abundant varieties of lilies, and hummingbirds like just about all of them!
Hummingbirds like lilies for the same reasons they like other flowers: they are colorful and nectar-rich, which means they are easy to find and full of essential calories.
Let’s learn more about hummingbirds and their preference for lilies!
Why Hummingbirds Like Colorful Flowers
First, why do hummingbirds like colorful flowers in the first place?
Well, in addition to seeing the same bright colors that we do, hummingbirds have a fourth set of cones in their eyes that allow them to see ultraviolet light (that’s in contrast to humans, who only have three sets of cones.).
Birds and insects that can see this wavelength see a world that we don’t, including special UV markings on blooms that act as a bullseye.
Hummingbirds can see lilies from a distance because the UV rays allow them to zero in on the colors that signify nutrient-rich blooms.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
A hummingbird’s diet is made up of two main things: nectar and insects.
They catch insects in the wild, diving acrobatically as they chase them around the yard or garden. They eat all kinds of little critters, including fruit flies, aphids, ants, beetles, weevils, mites, and mosquitos (how convenient these little pest-controlling birds are!).
Hummingbirds often eat bugs that have gotten caught up in spiders’ webs. They will also eat spiders, but only small ones that aren’t big or strong enough to overpower them.
As for the nectar, they can get it from either the flowers in their habitat or from hummingbird feeders that are filled with sugar water.
Why Do Hummingbirds Like Lilies?
Hummingbirds love lilies because these large, showy flowers are full of nectar, which they need to fuel their busy days.
There are a lot of estimates out there about how many calories hummingbirds need to consume every day, but a lot of those estimates are inaccurate. The short answer to how much hummingbirds need to eat is this: they consume about their body weight in food every day. That’s the equivalent of about 14 calories a day for most hummingbirds.
But considering the fact that hummingbirds are so tiny, 14 calories is actually quite 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.”
So what does that have to do with lilies?
Well, the large, colorful blooms of lilies are a great place for hummingbirds to consume large amounts of calories!
What Kind of Lilies Do Hummingbirds Like Best?
Hummingbirds like all varieties of lilies. They are usually drawn to pink, orange, yellow, and red blooms, colors which are found in many different kinds of lilies.
Ideally, hummingbirds will find blooming varieties throughout the breeding season, even though individual types of lilies may only bloom for a few short weeks every year. A good hummingbird garden will include flowers that bloom throughout the year.
Choosing a variety of lilies that bloom at different points in the spring, summer, and fall will provide great nutrition for hummingbirds all season long!
Asiatic lilies bloom in the mid-to-late spring. Oriental lilies bloom in mid-to-late summer, and surprise lilies bloom for just a few days in late July or early August. Daylilies bloom based on their variety, but there are daylilies that bloom in the spring, summer, and early fall.
Other Flowers That Are Great for Hummingbirds
In addition to lilies, hummingbirds like the following flowers:
- Red Hot Poker
- Bee Balm
- Coral Honeysuckle
- Cardinal Flower
- Bleeding Heart
- Red Sage
- Hummingbird Mint
- Scarlet Sage
- Mexican Sunflower
- Trumpet Creeper
Advice for Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard With Lilies and More
If you want to see more hummingbirds in your yard, try these ideas!
- Plant your garden so that its flowers bloom sequentially, thus guaranteeing nectar all summer long.
- Mix a blend of annuals and perennials to build a perfect hummingbird habitat that is easy to maintain.
- Use native plants and grasses for a more sustainable garden that requires less water.
- Pesticides may reduce the number of bugs and insects that annoy you, but pesticides can make hummingbirds sick, and these little birds actually need to consume insects to survive! We recommend skipping the pesticides in your hummingbird-friendly garden.
- Hummingbird gardens should offer some shade.
- Water is important! Offer water through a small birdbath that you keep clean and filled with fresh water.
What About Hummingbird Feeders?
We have written a lot about hummingbird feeders over the years!
Although the very best way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is through colorful flowers with tubular blooms, offering sugar water (AKA: hummingbird nectar) is a great way to increase the hummingbird activity in your yard.
However, you have to be smart about how you introduce hummingbird feeders. Only offer feeders if you are committed to keeping them full and clean!
You should also avoid using red food dye, as there are some concerns about the safety of red dye for the sensitive systems of tiny hummingbirds. The good news is that you don’t need red dye to attract hummingbirds to your feeders. Some red elements on the feeder itself, such as red flowers, a red sugar water reservoir, or other red coloring, will attract hummingbirds just as easily as one filled with red dye.
Plant Lilies & Enjoy Hummingbirds Coming to Your Yard!
Hummingbirds are drawn to the bright, colorful blooms of lilies for good reason: these flowers provide the high-energy nectar they need to support their fast metabolism. Lilies come in a diverse range of colors, shapes, and blooming seasons, making them an ideal addition to any yard looking to attract more hummingbirds.
Planting an array of lily varieties, along with other tubular flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink, will supply a steady sequence of nectar through the seasons. Mix in some running water and insect-friendly plants for a balanced habitat. You can add feeders with sugar water, as long as you keep them clean and full.
With a hummingbird-friendly garden, you’ll be rewarded with a dazzling display as these tiny acrobats dart from flower to flower. Their graceful hovering and aerobatic flights bring joy, and they help pollinate your garden as they feed.
By understanding their preferred food sources (like lilies!), we can create a welcoming oasis for hummingbirds to thrive.