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Hummingbird Plants


By Ellie Gioumousis

Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine)

Will take sun or shade but takes more water in sun. It blooms in spring with delightful red and yellow hanging flowers.

Arctostaphylos (Manzanita)

Many species; bloom from January to March and are drought tolerant. Part sun to light shade. Berries provide food for other birds.

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow)

This seldom seen plant grows by washes and oases in the desert so does need some water. It has beautiful rose- lavender flowers but needs heat to bloom. There is a nice specimen in the De Anza Environmental Center.

Cirsium occidentale

This is the cobweb thistle, a native. It has white foliage and a brilliant red flower and is not invasive. It grows in open woodlands in this area and may be seen along Page Mill Road. It is an extremely good source of nectar.

Cynoglossum grande (Hound's tongue)

This is a native forget-me-not that is found in open woods and blooms in March. It is fairly drought tolerant when established, going completely dormant in summer. Best to start from seed.

Delphinium cardinale (Red larkspur)

Beautiful brilliant red flowers on 2' to 5' stalks blooming from May to June make this a very desirable plant. It needs good drainage, partial shade and regular water while growing. It will go dormant in summer and must be protected from snails.

 Galvezia speciosa

The bright red snapdragon-like flowers on this small shrub give it the common name of Island bush snapdragon. It is tender to frost but grows back quickly if well-mulched. it will produce flowers almost all year and hummers visit it frequently. It should be cut back in late February as you would a fuchsia.

 Isomeris arborea

Known as Bladder pod for the interesting balloon shape of its seed pods, this small shrub has gray green foliage and yellow flowers. It is very drought tolerant and blooms nearly all year.

  Lavatera assurgentiflora (Tree mallow)

This Channel Island native will grow 10 feet in one year. It blooms nearly all year with pretty rose- pink flowers that are most valuable as a nectar source for hummers.

 Lonicera involucrata

Known as Twinberry because of the flowers and fruit that grow in pairs, this native honeysuckle is easy and quick to grow but prefers some shade and needs regular moisture.


Like the sages, there are many different species and all like full sun and are drought tolerant. They usually require good drainage.

Ribes speciosum (Wild gooseberry)

Bright red fuchsia-like flowers in early spring. Light shade and some water.

Ribes glutinosum (Wild currant)

Many selections with beautiful pink pendulous blossoms in early spring. Light shade to part sun and some water. Berries are attractive to other birds.

 Satureja mimuloides

This is a native perennial related to the herb Summer savory. It has orange flowers in great abundance all summer and even into fall. It grows to a clump 2-3 feet wide in one season.

Salvia (Sage)

There are many native species that are good sources of nectar. They are drought tolerant and take full sun. Visit the Salvia demonstration planting that Betsy Clebsch has grown at Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley Street, Palo Alto (just off Embarcadero Road).

 Silene laciniata (Fringed Indian pink or Catch fly)

This is a pretty little plant that is unfortunately very attractive to snails as well as to hummers. Louise Blakey has found that it does very well in hanging baskets and is thus protected from the snail's depredations.

 Trichostemma lanatum (Wooly blue curls)

Striking shrubby blue-flowered perennial that is native to the southern coastal ranges. It requires good drainage and no summer water when established. It is very attractive to hummingbirds and has a long blooming period.

 Epilobium canum (formerly Zauschneria) (California wild fuchsia)

Several varieties, but all have bright orange flowers which bloom in late summer and fall and are excellent nectar sources. They are hardy and extremely drought tolerant.


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