Red and orange tubular flowers are typical hummingbird nectar sources. These flowering plants have a good chance of attracting hummingbirds. These will not necessarily be the most showy plants or flowers. The birds also may frequent plants with red flowers that look more spiky than tubular, such as red fairy dusters or bottlebrush trees. Hummingbirds are somewhat flexible in their flower choices depending on what is blooming.
When the red or orange tubular flowers are not abundant … and sometimes when they are, we have seen hummingbirds try flowers with other colors and shapes. A chaste tree with purple flowers and a desert willow with white flowers were regularly visited one season in our yard.
The best way to choose hummingbird plants for your yard is to look at what the hummingbirds prefer in your area. Which plants are they visiting? Which plants would do well under the conditions you have, such as climate and space? If you do not know, there are several good ways to find out: search online; ask a birdwatcher; ask experienced staff at your local botanical garden or plant nursery; check with a local water conservation organization; or, ask for help from your local library.
When planning your garden, consider the timing and length of each plant’s flowering season. You may be able to attract hummingbirds by planting so that something is blooming during most of your hummingbird season.
Also consider the kinds of predators that may be around and the height of the flowers. Are the flowers low to the ground? High? In areas with many active cats, you may want to blooms higher or the plants potted and hanging. In areas with many predatory birds, you may want the blooms lower to the ground and in more cover.
Our best sources for regional information have been our local botanical gardens and nurseries. Your local government or water conservation agency may have very good materials to identify hardy, low water plants that also attract hummingbirds and other wildlife.
Hummingbird feeders and several other things may encourage hummingbirds to stay near your home. These include leaving perches near your hummingbird flowers and leaving some spider webs during the nesting season for females to use in nest building. Gnats in the area are also a benefit to hummingbirds since small insects are a source of protein for the birds.