July 2008
The Herb Farm

Herbs to Attract Hummingbirds

by H. T. Farmer

Last month I wrote about a few herbs you could grow to attract bees. This month I would like to concentrate on herbs to attract hummingbirds.

There are countless flowers that attract hummers. Personally, I like to plant the ones we can also call herbs. After all, it is my name, you know?

Let’s start with some tall varieties like Digitalis purpurea or foxglove. Although this herb is poisonous to humans, the drug industry has made a chemical from a derivative of this plant to treat certain heart-related ailments. Hummingbirds are attracted to the trumpet-shaped stalk of blooms loaded with nectar.

Another tall herb is Monarda didyma, otherwise known as bergamot or beebalm. This herb is in the Lamiaceae family, which means it is a mint. Hummingbirds are attracted to its tubular-shaped flowers of red and pink. Another fun fact about this herb is its other name is Oswego tea, which comes from the Oswego Indians. It is written that the Oswego Indians taught the European settlers how to make tea from this mint after the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Agastache sp. is another mint that attracts hummers. There are about a dozen or so species of this mint ranging in color from red to light blue and a lot of shades in-between. It grows about three-feet tall and with all those color choices you can plant according to your color scheme.

Salvia is a great staple for hummingbirds. Again, this herb comes in a wide variety of colors, heights and is available in annual or perennial varieties. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) with its bright red tubular blooms is a favorite of these beautiful creatures in my garden.

There are several species of hummingbirds visiting Alabama each year. These include, but are not limited to, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycer-cus), Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanenensis), Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) and Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). Although there are several other species of hummingbirds spotted in Alabama each year, these are the regulars visiting our gardens.

Folks, bird-watching is a part of gardening and, even if you are an apartment dweller, enjoying these little beauties can be done without herbs in your garden. Buy or, better yet, make a hummingbird feeder today and place it outside your window. Feed them what they want and need and you’ll have these visitors every year from March until October in most areas.

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions about hummingbird herbs or feeders. Until next month, thanks for reading!