Can you attract hummingbirds with pansies?
Every year when it’s time for spring flowers to bloom, it’s not just the gardening enthusiasts who get excited. It’s also time for hummingbird fans to celebrate — hummingbirds are coming back!
It’s so delightful to observe hummingbirds nimbly hovering at flowers, flying backward, zooming around the yard, and fluttering their wings so fast that they seem invisible.
Of all the flowers that we cultivate to lure hummingbirds to our gardens, pansies may be one of the prettiest. But unfortunately, they don’t create a lot of nectar, which is what hummingbirds need to survive. Pansies are a great addition to the garden, but you need to combine them with other nectar-rich blooms to be successful in building a hummingbird garden.
Let’s find out more.
What Makes a Flower Attractive to Hummingbirds?
Flowers that produce a lot of nectar are always going to be a hummingbird’s top choice. Tubular-shaped blooms are appealing, too, because they are the perfect fit for a hummingbird’s long bill and slender tongue.
Finally, hummingbirds like bright colors, especially red and orange. They are less interested in blue and purple flowers.
What Are Pansies?
Pansies are cool-weather bloomers that unfurl brightly colored flowers in a wide range of hues like purple, yellow, white, red, and even black. Some pansy varieties produce flowers with color combinations on each bloom.
Although pansies don’t make much nectar, their bright colors attract hummingbirds. By planting pansies near tubular flowers with more plentiful nectar, like sages or trumpet vines, you can create an irresistible draw for hummingbirds.
How Much Do Hummingbirds Eat?
Hummingbirds need to consume up to half their body weight in nectar every day. They will visit between 1,000-2,000 flowers a day to gather this much nectar.
They also eat insects and will visit hummingbird feeders. Even though some pansies attract them visually, hummingbirds need nectar-rich flowers nearby to satisfy their extreme nutritional requirements after migration and during the breeding season.
Since pansies bloom early, they offer a vital visual cue for hummingbirds when not much else has flowered yet. By combining pansies with more nectar-productive flowers, you can provide the food hummingbirds need after migration and for the rest of the time that they are in your geographic area.
Do Other Pollinators Like Pansies?
Yes, pansies also lure an array of pollinators besides hummingbirds. Butterflies, bees, hawk moths, and more are likewise enticed by their bright colors, early in the spring season.
The more pollinators that explore these blossoms, the better their pollination success! When there aren’t a lot of other blooming flowers in an area, the main thing pansies have going for them is their early blooming window.
How To Grow Your Own Pansies as Part of Your Hummingbird Garden
Pansies are prized cool-weather bloomers that contribute vibrant color to your garden. Let’s learn how to plant these flowers.
Understanding Varieties of Pansies
There are several kinds of pansies to choose from.
- Classic Pansies: This includes the familiar large-flowered pansies. Some popular classic pansy varieties are Majestic Giants, Matrix, and Padparadscha.
- Trailing Pansies: These pansies grow in a spreading, trailing habit rather than an upright clump. Cool Wave and Cats Pajamas are two trailing pansy series
- Pansiola: This type is a cross between a pansy and a viola. Pansiola blooms show pansy-like flowers on trailing viola-type plants.
- Novelty Pansies: These unique pansies have ruffled, striped, or blotched petals for added flair. Some examples are Frizzle Sizzle, Sangria, and Morpho.
- Perennial Pansies: A few pansy varieties like Tufted are perennial in some regions. They may not be as cold hardy but can rebloom.
Selecting the Best Pansy for Your Garden
- Trailing pansy varieties like Cool Wave are great for containers and hanging planters. They bloom longer with more heat tolerance.
- You can start pansies early indoors from seed, or buy young plants from garden centers.
- Look for compact, healthy plants without leggy stems and plenty of buds ready to unfurl.
Where and When to Plant Pansies
Pansies thrive with about six hours of sun daily and with well-drained, enriched soil.
In warmer zones, protect them from the hot afternoon sun. The ideal planting time is late summer or early fall, at least 6 weeks before the first frost. Early spring planting also works.
Thoroughly prepare soil by mixing in compost or other organic matter to retain moisture. Space plants 6-12 inches apart depending on variety. Allow more room for trailing types.
Care and Maintenance
You will need to water deeply 1-2 times per week until established. Once established, water when the soil dries out.
We also recommend that you apply slow-release fertilizer at planting time. Liquid feed every 4 weeks to encourage blooms.
Be sure to deadhead spent flowers promptly to promote more buds for the rest of the season. In warm climates, pansies may bloom year-round. Elsewhere, pull them when summer arrives. Use mulch to conserve moisture and control weeds.
Oh, and don’t forget to monitor for slugs and do your best to remove the slugs if you find them!
Follow these practical tips to successfully raise pansies for spectacular spring displays near nectar-rich blooms. You’ll notice hummingbirds flock to these flower pairings as soon as they unfurl!
Other Plants That Hummingbirds Love
You’ll find hummingbirds drawn to pansies, but they also need nearby flowers with ample nectar. Their top picks vary by growing zone. Here are some of the best nectar-producing blossoms to combine with pansies based on your region:
Supplement With Hummingbird Feeders
Not everyone has enough space or time to grow a lot of hummingbird-attracting plants. If all you have are pansies, you should definitely consider supplementing with a hummingbird feeder!
Combined with nectar-filled blossoms, hummingbird feeders provide added food and attract hummers.
Choose feeders that have suitable perches and raised ports for hummingbird beaks and tongues. Fill with homemade nectar using 4 parts water to 1 part white sugar.
We recommend that you change the nectar every 2-3 days to prevent spoilage, but you may need to do so more often in hot weather. Rinse your feeders thoroughly before refilling, and periodically sterilize with vinegar solution.
Situate feeders in shady areas to keep nectar fresher longer.
Should You Use Red Dye?
Red dye has been marketed to people buying hummingbird nectar for ages. However, there are some concerns about the safety of this additive.
Although the science isn’t settled on whether or not red food dye is dangerous for hummingbirds, it seems like an unnecessary risk when:
- Hummingbirds don’t need the red dye
- Feeders usually have red components anyway
- The potential risks outweigh any benefits
Instead, just use a red feeder, or one with red components, and fill it with plain sugar water. You can always buy clear hummingbird nectar at the store if you don’t have time to make your own.
Enjoy Pansies & Attract Hummingbirds
By planting pansies near tubular, nectar-rich flowers, you can tempt lovely hummingbirds into your landscape.
We love watching their iridescent feathers shimmer as they feed, and it is almost always a magical experience. With the right blooms and feeders, you’ll be excited to entice these energetic jewel-like visitors to pansies and neighboring flowers!