Figaro's Blog

April 25, 2024

Creating a Hummingbird Oasis: Attracting Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds to Your Vancouver Garden

Featured image for “Creating a Hummingbird Oasis: Attracting Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds to Your Vancouver Garden”

With their dazzling colours and agile flight, hummingbirds are some of British Columbia’s most captivating birds. Many gardeners relish visits from these tiny powerhouses. Today, we’re exploring attracting hummingbirds to your Vancouver-area garden.

Hummingbirds of Vancouver

Among the species that call this region home are the Anna’s Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbird.

About Anna’s Hummingbird

A male Anna's hummingbird with its red head in flight

The male Anna’s Hummingbird is known for its red, iridescent head.

Our most common species is the Anna’s Hummingbird, a year-round resident along the coastal regions of British Columbia and Vancouver’s official City Bird. Unlike other hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds are common in urban areas including yards and parks, as well as in woodlands and along the coastline.

Named for Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli, Anna’s Hummingbirds readily come to feeders. They are known for their distinctive vocalizations, producing a series of chirps and whistles during courtship and territorial displays. The males, with their iridescent red heads, climb to great heights before diving in a series of dramatic arcs to impress females.

About the Rufous Hummingbird

A Rufous Hummingbird with its orange throat

Rufous Hummingbirds can appear rusty orange.

Smaller and feistier than Anna’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbirds travel up to 6,300 km from their wintering to their breeding grounds in British Columbia. According to BC Bird Atlas, “This hummingbird performs the longest migration in the world measured as distance travelled relative to body length, from its wintering range in Mexico and the Gulf States, to breeding grounds in the Northern Pacific Rainforest east to the Northern Rockies.”

Their arrival is closely timed to the blooming of several BC native shrubs, including Red-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) and Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis).

Rufous Hummingbirds are highly territorial and fiercely defend their feeding and nesting territories from intruders, including much larger birds. Despite their small size, Rufous Hummingbirds are incredibly resilient, withstanding extreme weather conditions during their epic migrations.

The name Rufous refers to the species’ reddish-brown colouring. Males tend to be more orange while females are green and rust.

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Vancouver Garden

It’s not difficult to create a welcoming environment for hummingbirds, especially if you live in an area with street trees and gardens. Generally speaking, hummingbirds are attracted to long, nectar-rich, tubular flowers. They have a preference for red flowers, but also frequent flowers in other bright colours. Here are some of the best plants for attracting hummingbirds to your garden and enticing them to linger:

Best shrubs and vines for hummingbirds

Honeysuckle flower

Looking for a vine that attracts hummingbirds in Vancouver? Look no further than a honeysuckle.

Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush): While named for its ability to attract butterflies, this deciduous shrubs is also beloved by hummingbirds. A repeat bloomer, Buddleia flower clusters are made up of many tubular blooms. Because Butterfly Bush can be invasive, ensure you choose a sterile variety (that won’t self seed). Dwarf varieties like ‘Blue Chip’ are a good choice for urban gardens.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet Vine): Reaching heights of up to 40′, Campsis is an extremely vigorous vine not suitable for most gardens. If you do have the space, however, growing this vine with its beautiful scarlet blooms will undoubtably bring hummingbirds to your garden.

Lonicera spp. (Honeysuckle): Flowering honeysuckle vines typically have vivid red or orange tubular flowers: perfect for hummingbirds! L. sempervirens or Trumpet Honeysuckle is a favourite, as are hybrids such as ‘Goldflame’ or ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’

Ribes sanguineum (Red-flowering Currant): A native of our region, this deciduous shrub bursts into clusters of pink to deep red flowers in early spring, providing a vital nectar source for early arrivals.

Best perennials for attracting hummingbirds in Vancouver

Agastache's coral blooms

Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop or Sunset Hyssop)

Agastache spp. (Hummingbird Mint or Hyssop): Available in a range of colours, agastache is both fragrant and drought tolerant. And it didn’t earn the common name “Hummingbird Mint” without good reason: hummingbirds love this plant. Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is native across much of North America.

Aquilegia spp. (Columbine): With nectar-rich blooms that are irresistible to hummingbirds, aquilegia is also shade tolerant. Look for the Western Columbine, a BC-native wildflower boasting vibrant red and yellow blooms.

Dicentra formosa (Pacific Bleeding Heart): A shade-loving native perennial, Pacific Bleeding Heart produces delicate heart-shaped flowers in shades of pink and white, beckoning hummingbirds to explore its blooms.

Heuchera spp. (Heuchera): In addition to being versatile, heuchera’s small, bell-shaped blooms draw in hummingbirds and butterflies. Shade tolerant and foliage forward, heucheras are worth having in every garden.

Monarda spp. (Bee Balm): Also known as bergamot, Bee Balm forms clusters of tubular flowers in shades of red, pink, or purple, emitting a fragrant aroma that entices hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies alike.

Salvia spp. (Salvia or ornamental sage): With their long tubular flowers, salvias are a favourite haunt of hummingbirds. Choose hardy varieties such as Salvia nemerosa or look for notorious hummingbird favourite ‘Hot Lips.’

Best annuals for hummingbirds in Vancouver

A hummingbird feeds on lantana

Lantana is grown as an annual in cooler climates such as Vancouver.

Cuphea spp. (Cuphea): This heat-loving annual has the perfect offering for hummingbirds: long, red, tubular flowers. ‘Vermillionaire’ is a great variety.

Fuchsia spp. (Fuchsia): Adorned with pendulous flowers in hues of pink, purple, and red, fuchsias are a timeless choice for hummingbird gardens. A hanging basket full of annual fuchsia is an irresistible feeding station for hummers.

Viburnum lantana (Lantana): Technically a perennial, lantana is sold in cooler climates as an annual basket stuffer or bedding plant. Its flowers are beloved by both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Nicotiana alata (Flowering Tobacco): A wonderful addition to a cut flower garden, flowering tobacco also offers beautiful scent.

Petunia spp. (Petunia): This commonly available annual boasts the trumpet-shaped blooms hummingbirds love and is available in a wide range of colours. Petchoa and calibrachoa are similarly attractive to hummers.

Using and maintaining hummingbird feeders

A hummingbird at a red and yellow feeder. Attracting hummingbirds in Vancouver is made easier by providing feeders.

Feeders can be a wonderful way to attract and observe hummingbirds at home.

Planting nectar-rich flowers is a wonderful way to attract hummingbirds to your garden, but there simply aren’t enough blooms to support Vancouver’s resident humming bird population throughout the winter months. Many bird lovers opt to set out hummingbird feeders as a way to feed Anna’s Hummingbirds year round.

Choosing a hummingbird feeder

Look for a quality feeder with a glass or plastic vessel. Avoid metal, which can overheat in the sun and even burn hummingbird feet or tongues. Look for red port flowers and simple parts; the feeder should be easy to disassemble and clean.

Maintaining a hummingbird feeder

Maintaining clean feeders is crucial for attracting and supporting hummingbirds in your garden. Here are some tips for feeder upkeep:

1. Clean feeders regularly: Wash feeders with hot water and a bottle brush at least weekly to prevent mold and bacteria buildup, ensuring a safe and hygienic feeding environment for attracting hummingbirds to your garden.

2. Fresh nectar is key: Replace nectar every three to four days, especially in warm weather, to prevent fermentation and spoilage. To make your own nectar, boil 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water until sugar dissolves.

3. Provide multiple feeding stations: Position several feeders throughout your garden to reduce competition among hummingbirds and accommodate their varying feeding preferences when they come to your garden.

4. Keep feeders shaded: Hang feeders in shaded areas to prevent nectar from spoiling quickly in the sun, prolonging its freshness and appeal to hummingbirds attracted to your garden.

5. Be consistent: Once hummingbirds know about your feeder, they’ll put it on their “route,” visiting routinely throughout the day. In winter, when natural sources of nectar are rare, it’s crucial to maintain feeding. To avoid freezing, keep two feeders and regularly rotate them between indoors and out. Or, set up a source of heat to keep nectar in its liquid state.

By planting a diverse array of nectar-rich flowers and maintaining clean feeders, you can transform your Vancouver area garden into a haven for Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds. Come visit us at Figaro’s Garden to find the plants mentioned in this article and many others! Let us help you make your garden a sanctuary for these extraordinary birds.


plants make everything better

Whether you're an experienced horticulturist, or looking for your first plant, our team at Figaro's Garden is excited to help you realize your plant and garden dreams. Contact us today or stop by the shop to see what's in-store.

Contact Figaro's Garden