Do Hummingbirds Like Sunflowers?

do-hummingbirds-like-sunflowers

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Sunflowers are wonderful flowers to grow for many reasons. These exceptional blooms are spectacular to look at, produce tasty seeds, and really do scale up into the heavens! They also happen to be wonderful flowers to feed pollinators and can help attract all kinds of animals into your garden. But – do hummingbirds like sunflowers, in particular?

Hummingbirds adore sunflowers, and you’ll likely attract plenty of avian visitors with your own crop. Sunflowers produce abundant nectar and are easy to spot – making them instant winners with local pollinator populations.

Why are sunflowers popular with hummingbirds? 

It’s mainly to do with their bright, exuberant colors. Sunflowers boast a bright yellow coloring to their petals, naturally attracting hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are attracted to bright, deep colors such as reds, pinks, and oranges. Given that sunflowers can be some of the brightest flowers we grow in our gardens, it’s unsurprising that they find them so attractive.

Sunflowers can also grow exceptionally tall, making them some of the most obvious to visiting birds. Therefore, they are highly convenient for passing pollinators who do not have to hover too low to find nectar. Generally, you can expect an average sunflower to grow to around ten feet tall. However, by growing giant plant varieties, you may expect double this size!

Depending on the weather and time of day, the sunflower heads will also turn towards the sun’s direction, potentially making it easier for pollinating visitors to spot.

Although it may not appear so to the naked eye, sunflowers have multiple tube-shaped cavities in their center, which contain nectar. These tubes are the perfect shape for hummingbirds’ long, thin beaks, making them ideal for quick feasts. Sunflowers also happen to be rich in nectar, too – they are ‘superfood’ providers for pollinators on the hunt!

Which other flowers should I grow to attract hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds will happily feed on bright, tube-shaped flowers that are easy for them to quickly pop their long beaks into. While sunflowers are fantastic at attracting hummingbirds to your yard, do remember that these pollinators enjoy various plant nectar. It’s best to grow a strong selection of different blooms to keep hummingbirds interested. The same applies to other visitors, too – such as butterflies and bees.

Dipladenia, clematis vines, calibrachoa, and even a simple splash of lavender will readily bring hummingbirds flocking to your garden. This selection will also help to broaden the color palette in your yard, too, allowing your sunflowers to reach up high above the pack.

However, there are some flowers, such as marigolds, that hummingbirds aren’t too fond of. A hummingbird will likely avoid blooms that give off very little nectar, or are otherwise regarded as ‘ornamental’. You may find that some types of hydrangea, for example, give off little in the way of usable nectar.

How do I grow sunflowers? 

As the name suggests, these flowers will need a lot of natural light – so, choose a sunny spot in your garden, and ensure your soil is rich in nutrients. It is a good idea to put compost or even manure on the ground before planting your sunflowers. Sunflowers are normally the hardiest if you live and grow plants in USDA zones four through nine. What’s also great is that these plants will come back year after year with sufficient care, meaning you can always rely on them to keep hummingbirds visiting.

Water your sunflowers regularly, and if they are in a spot where they will brace a lot of wind, then it is good to plant stakes next to them to keep them from snapping. 

It is usually best to plant sunflowers in the spring and to ensure that you choose the right variety for your garden. As mentioned, giant sunflowers can reach up to 20 feet in height – are you sure you have the space for them?

It’s also worth considering sunflower height if you want to see hummingbirds flying around your garden. If they are too tall for you to see, hummingbirds will rarely come down to Earth and you’ll miss out on all the wild action! This is another great reason why it pays to check your sunflower species before planting them and to ensure you have a rich variety of flowers and plants hummingbirds love to feed on.

Once the heads of your sunflowers have died, do not deadhead them completely. Instead, leave them there for local animals to find, unless you want to collect the seeds yourself. 

Sunflowers are immensely rewarding, beautiful to look at, and are never too difficult to grow. They are natural magnets for welcome pollinators, making them a firm favorite here at Wild Yards!

About author
Graham Pierrepoint is an avid wild gardener, spending much of his spare time creating exciting spaces for local birds, bugs, and other beasties to explore! He writes regularly for Wild Yards to help share his years of flora and fauna expertise with other birdwatchers and horticulturists.

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