A female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on red-flowered bee balm. Photo by Joe Schneid from the Wikimedia Commons.
Donald Mitchell, a Master Gardener based in Red Wing and Minnesota's gardening expert on hummingbirds, spoke recently at the St. Anthony Park Garden Club.
Among the plants available at the 2023 Friends School Plant Sale, these are the absolute best ones for the ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only hummingbird found in Minnesota.
Hummingbirds generally go for flowers that are red, tubular, and nodding. Often the flowers have reflexed petals, and they are generally scentless. The nectar the birds are looking for is dilute and copious, and it's nutrition source is sucrose (so that's why using table sugar and water to fill a hummingbird feeder makes sense).
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)—red-flowered varieties, especially Jacob Cline
- Coral Bells—red-flowered varieties, especially Firefly, Snow Angel
- Larkspur, Tall (Delphinium exaltatum)
- Royal Catchfly
- Cigar Flower—Honeybells
- Hummingbird Mint—Bolero
- Salvia—S. coccinea (Forest Fire, Summer Jewel Red), S. greggii (Mirage Cherry Red), and S. guaranitica (Amistad, Black and Bloom, Bodacious Rhythm and Blues, Bodacious Smokey Jazz, Hummingbird Falls)
- Tobacco, Flowering (Nicotiana mutabilis)–White to Rose
- Cardinal Climber
- Honeysuckle, Climbing—especially Dropmore Scarlet, Major Wheeler, John Clayton
- Runner Beans—all
- Trumpet Creeper—all
There are many other plants marked with the hummingbird symbol in our catalog, and sources say they are also known to be visited by hummingbirds, but in his presentation, Mitchell said he has documented that these species (or the varieties within these species) are the absolute best ones.