Every year during hummingbird season, fans of these delightful little birds eagerly await their arrival.
Many of us even take hummingbirds into consideration when we plant our gardens and create landscaping. Flowers in pots and containers, beautifully mulched landscaping areas, and flowerbeds in the front and back yard can all be designed to maximize hummingbird activity.
The number one reason why hummingbirds would want to visit a particular flower is whether or not it has enough nectar. If a plant is full of nectar, hummingbirds are going to be far more interested in it! That’s why hummingbirds prefer flowers like lilacs and trumpet vines over low-nectar blooms like daisies and roses.
What about nasturtium? This popular garden flower is pretty, but is it also a good way to attract hummingbirds?
Are Hummingbirds Attracted to Nasturtium?
Absolutely! Nasturtiums are a lovely addition to any garden, and of course, they help to draw in our hummingbird friends. Hummingbirds love nasturtiums because they are a great source of nectar, and their tubular bloom is a perfect fit for the bird’s tiny tongues.
Let’s explore why nasturtiums are such a popular choice for these energetic tiny birds.
What Makes Nasturtiums So Appealing to Hummingbirds?
Nasturtiums are warm-season annuals that produce brightly colored, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, and cream. They bloom abundantly throughout the summer and add a tropical flair to any garden.
An important fact about nasturtiums is they bloom prolifically during summer, providing a vital source of food for hummingbirds after spring flowers have faded. This summertime nourishment is crucial because fewer flowers are available!
Hummingbirds have an extremely fast metabolism and must consume up to half of their total body weight in nectar each day, spread out over multiple feedings. This is why they will visit 1,000-2,000 blooms each day! For most of the day, they never go more than 5-10 minutes without eating.
Hummingbirds can lick up to 15-20 times per second with their specialized long tongues. The trumpet shape of a nasturtium bloom is perfectly designed to match a hummingbird’s long, slender beak!
Additionally, nasturtiums produce an abundance of energy-rich, sugary nectar that helps satisfy a hummingbird’s extreme nutritional needs. They need this nectar when they arrive after their long migration, while they are raising their young, and throughout the season.
Because nasturtiums bloom prolifically in summer, they provide an excellent food source for hummingbirds when few other flowers are available. The nectar content and quantity of blooms are ideally suited to a hummingbird’s digestion and high energy requirements in summer.
Do Other Pollinators Like Visiting Nasturtiums Too?
Yes, nasturtiums also attract a range of pollinators in addition to hummingbirds. The pollen in the nasturtium attracts bees, moths, and butterflies. If a hummingbird doesn’t visit a nasturtium to lap up the nectar, the tubular bloom will fill with nectar, and even bees can reach it.
Planting flowers specifically for pollinators is a great strategy for any gardener, as our ecosystems are healthier when we have plenty of pollinating going on!
How To Grow Your Own Nasturtiums To Attract Hummingbirds
Nasturtiums are a beloved warm-season annual that adds tropical flair and color to the garden. Let’s explore how to plant these blooms to benefit your garden — and attract more hummingbirds, of course!
Choosing the Right Nasturtium Varieties
Nasturtiums of all varieties are attractive to hummingbirds, so feel free to choose any of these varieties! Here are some of the best options:
- Alaska: Variegated foliage, a mix of yellow, cherry, salmon, and crimson blooms
- Apricot: Compact, apricot blooms
- Black Velvet: Deep red, nearly black blooms
- Empress of India: Bushy dwarf, bright red blooms, blue-green foliage
- Fiesta Blend: Low-growing, orange, yellow, bicolor blooms
- Indian Chief: Trailing, bright red blooms, dark foliage
- Jewel Mix: Trailing, yellow, peach, carmine, salmon blooms
- Dwarf Jewel Mix: Bushy, yellow, red, apricot double blooms
- Orange Gleam: Trailing, bright orange semi-double blooms
- Orchid Flame: Bushy, yellow blooms with red splashes
- Peach Melba: Bushy, creamy yellow blooms with red centers
- Phoenix: Semi-trailing, red-orange ruffled blooms
- Purple Emperor: Trailing, light purple fading to lavender blooms
- Vesuvius: Bushy, salmon pink blooms
- Whirlybird Mix: Low mounding, a mix of scarlet, yellow, and golden blooms
- Yeti: Trailing, creamy white and yellow blooms
How To Grow Nasturtiums: Step-by-Step
Here is how to grow nasturtiums:
- Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date. Plant the large seeds 1/2-1 inch deep in your seed starting mix.
- Alternatively, direct sow seeds into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds 5-6 inches apart and 1/2-1 inch deep.
- Nasturtiums prefer partial shade in hot climates and full sun in cooler areas. Select a site with well-drained soil.
- In mild winter climates, plant nasturtiums in fall for winter and spring bloom.
Care and Maintenance
- Water newly planted seeds frequently until established. Then water when the soil is dry. Too much water can lead to fungal issues.
- Avoid fertilizing, as this produces more leaves over flowers. Poor, sandy soil is ideal.
- Pinch off spent blooms to encourage more flowering. You will need to deadhead container plantings routinely.
- Protect plants from frost by covering or moving containers indoors temporarily.
- For more blooms rather than leaves, refrain from amending the soil with compost or fertilizer.
- Grow trailing types of nasturtiums in containers where they can cascade attractively. Bush varieties work well in garden beds.
- Remove faded blooms regularly to promote continued flowering into fall.
What Else Is Irresistible to Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds favor nasturtiums but also enjoy many other brightly colored, tubular flowers. Their favorites vary by region. Here are some of the best flowers to grow based on your geographic area in the US:
|Great Plains||Firecracker Penstemon|
What About Using Hummingbird Feeders to Supplement Natural Food Sources?
In addition to planting nectar-rich flowers, hummingbird feeders are another great way to supplement natural food sources and attract hummers. Keep in mind that hummingbird feeders are a big commitment!
They always need to be filled and clean, and you will need to hang them for the entirety of the season so that you don’t accidentally train hummingbirds to come visit and then suddenly stop providing the food they are dependent upon!
Here’s what we recommend:
- Choose a feeder that has hummingbird perches and raised feeding ports.
- Fill the feeders with homemade or store-bought nectar. Homemade nectar is made using a ratio of 4:1 water to white granulated sugar.
- Change the nectar every 2-3 days. You may need to change it even more frequently during hot weather.
- Clean the feeders using a water and vinegar solution. This helps to disinfect the feeders.
- Position the feeders in shady areas to prevent spoilage. If you have more than one feeder, try not to put them close together, as this can create unhealthy competition between males.
- Avoid using pesticides near your feeders, as this kills the insects that hummingbirds need to complete their diet.
- Finally, we don’t recommend using red food dye, as there are some suspected health risks. It’s not worth the possibility of making a hummingbird sick, especially when they don’t need red food dye. A red feeder will attract them just fine.
We Hope You Enjoy Your Nasturtiums – The Hummingbirds Certainly Will!
Hopefully what you’ve learned here is that nasturtiums are clearly an excellent way to attract beautiful, energetic hummingbirds to your garden! Their tubular blooms brimming with nectar are perfectly suited for a hummingbird’s needs. Plus, nasturtiums bloom abundantly right when hummers need them most – throughout the summer season.
With the right mix of pretty yet functional flowers like nasturtiums, plus clean feeders, you’ll soon enjoy a garden filled with hummingbird activity. It is such a joy to listen to them buzz around and watch those bright flashes of color. When they hover at the flowers you have selected for the garden, it’s even better!