How to Attract & Care for Hummingbirds (Includes Homemade Hummingbird Food)

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How to Attract & Care for Hummingbirds (Plants to Grow, Homemade Hummingbird Food)

Last year, one of my goals was to attract more birds to our garden. While birds do help keep insect populations at bay, my main motivation was the simple enjoyment of it. I’ve been working to turn my garden into a peaceful oasis where I can sit and read with a cup of coffee in the morning or read. Last year, we bought a bird feeder and a bird bath as well as a hummingbird feeder.

Attracting hummingbirds to my garden was so special to me. How amazing to be working out there and to hear the hum of their wings and find them in my nasturtium or perched on top of my tomato cages!

Today I want to share with you the very simple and inexpensive feeding method I used.

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After doing a bit of research, I opted for the Perky Pet Hummingbird Feeder (currently ~$17 at Amazon). There are all kinds of fancy hummingbird feeders you can buy, but turns out hummingbirds are highly attracted to the color red. I can tell you that this particular feeder attracted hummingbirds all spring and summer long last year!


Setting this up is fairly easy to do. The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the red wire from the bottle and attach it to the lid as pictured above. This is going to be the loop you’ll use to hang your feeder.

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Make sure to clean out your feeder before using it. I like using a mild dish liquid or soap (no harsh chemicals) and a bottle cleaner like this one (Amazon, ~$5). I highly recommend you pick up a bottle cleaner! As you can see from the image above, the bottle has a very small opening that screws into the base. This will make it tricky to clean without a gadget like this.

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Leave your bottle out to dry while you work on your hummingbird food.

How to Make Your Own Hummingbird Food

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Making your own hummingbird food only takes minutes and is a huge cost savings over buying the red-dyed nectar you’ll find at the store! All you need is four cups of water and one cup of sugar.

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Heat over a stove until dissolved. You don’t need to bring it to a boil, you only need to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before pouring into your hummingbird feeder and hanging.

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Now, the important part: if you’re going to have a hummingbird feeder, you’re going to have to commit to taking care of it regularly. I replaced the nectar in mine every 4-5 days, and as often as every 1-2 days during the summer when it’s really hot. If you don’t take care to replace the nectar and clean out your feeder, it can develop black mold, which is harmful to the hummingbirds.

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When you hang up your feeder, be patient! It may take a few days before the hummingbirds find it. Sometimes it may take a little experimenting to find the right location for your feeder as well. At first, we hung the feeder under the covered porch. After a week with no results, I moved it to our deck and lo and behold: hummingbirds! It turns out this was a better location for us, too, because the deck is visible from our kitchen and family room.

Selecting Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

Besides just offering a hummingbird feeder, I worked to incorporate flowers throughout my yard and garden that would provide a natural source of nectar to my bird friends.


I found that flowers that are brightly colored, particularly red and deep pink, and trumpet-shaped seem to work best for attracting hummingbirds. In my own garden, fuchsia, nasturtium, and agastache all attracted hummingbirds.

Some other common plants you might try incorporating include:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Clematis
  • Columbine
  • Dahlia
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Honeysuckle
  • Lily
  • Petunia
  • Salmonberry
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I have also read that trailing vines, such as scarlet runner beans, may attract hummingbirds. This was certainly the case with the nasturtium flowers I grew up a trellis last summer. They visited these flowers constantly! These are incredibly easy flowers to grow and they grow vigorously. For more information, check out the tutorial I wrote last year on the tee-pee trellis set up I used. It costs about $5 and takes just minutes of your time.

Are you looking forward to welcoming hummingbirds to your yard this spring? Any other tips for attracting them?

18 thoughts on “How to Attract & Care for Hummingbirds (Includes Homemade Hummingbird Food)”

  1. Love my hummingbirds!! We have two that have stayed all through the winter, they come to the window in the morning and just hover. In the summer, I open all the doors to the outdoor room and before I can get them all open they are already on the Meyer lemon blossoms on the trees I grow.

    • Sara, I’m curious to know whereabouts in the country you live? I’m guessing not Pacific Northwest as we’re not much of a citrus growing region (OK, that’s a bit of an understatement)!

      • I actually do live in the pacific northwest, about 30 minutes from Seattle, however, my Meyer lemons are kept in my outdoor kitchen. I do cheat and heat it up to prevent my beloved plants (including the Meyer lemon trees) from dying during the winter months.

        • AH! OK – that makes total sense! I love, love Meyer lemons btw – and have been thinking of getting a plant (or two!) for indoor use. Have you had success growing them?

          • I have three Meyer trees, two did really well, the third had a little accident which was totally my fault. I’ve tried growing the smaller plants that you can keep indoors but they never worked for me. Two years ago I purchased 4 ft. trees and couldn’t be happier.

  2. Hummingbirds are near and dear to our family, since they always remind us of my father-in-law. He loved them and after he passed away in 2003, hummingbirds would appear when we were on the phone with my mother-in-law, even though I had no feeder or hanging baskets. True story! I had heard they will stay year-round in our region (I live in Federal Way) and decided to try it this year with great success. When it got really cold, I would increase my homemade food’s sugar concentration to 2:1. We have 3 distinctly different birds who visit us every day!

    • I love that story – thanks for sharing, Melissa! And great tip on the sugar concentration.

  3. Do you have any tips on how to keep ants from invading your feeder? Or do you know of a specific feeder that ants can’t invade? I’ve tried a few tricks (vaseline/vicks rub) on my shepherd’s pole to keep the ants from climbing up but they somehow still find their way into my feeders. Ugh!

    • U need go to WALMART, go in hummingbird section. U should find “Pennington hummingbird feeder” (bee/ant resistant) attracts 2X as many birds.

  4. When I first moved to Silsbee Texas I had about 15 humming birds but after the first year I have only from 2-5 every year I love to sit on my front porch and watch them one time I had a coffee cup in my hand and it had redbon it a humming bird came up clise and just hummed I lovedbit

    • In Maine on vacation I noticed how territorial hummingbirds are and had to put up a second feeder because one bird claimed the first one and chased all the other birds away. Definately need more than one!

  5. I have humming birds that will come up and fly within 2 inches of my face when they arrive back in Oklahoma every year.

  6. I am not sure if feeding them sugar water is a good idea.Are you sure it does not impact their health? Because sugar has been shown to be bad for humans. I also feel natural flower nectar is different from sugar.

      • Absolutely wrong! Honey will ferment very quickly and become toxic to hummingbirds. Never ever use honey. Plain old sugar is correct. Hummers only sip sugar water to supplement their diet. They also eat bugs, drink flower nectar. Be sure to change and thoroughly rinse the feeder often.

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