Here are ideas for shade plants that attract hummingbirds to your garden. By adding a few readily available plants to your pots and planters, you can bring hummingbirds to your garden.
If you are like me, you love hummingbirds. These tiny iridescent birds are my absolute favorite, and I spend most summers keeping an eye out the window for them.
When we moved into our current home, I was excited to get started filling up pots and planters to really make it a home. One challenge though: we have a lot of shade!
All of the native full sun plants I had been hoping to plant would be limited to only one side of the house, and I was stumped with what to do with all the shade we have with our north facing home nestled into the trees on two sides. After a little research and a trip or two to the local plant nursery, I had a plan.
I had learned about one colorful plant that is a hummingbird magnet that thrives in shade — coleus.
How can you attract hummingbirds to a shade garden?
Attract hummingbirds to your shade garden by adding a few readily available plants to your patio, deck, or porch planters. Coleus, when allowed to flower and when paired with bright red and pink annuals such as impatiens or begonias will attract hummingbirds to your shade garden.
Coleus are usually grown for their colorful leaves that brighten even the darkest corner of your shady garden. Because of this, the tiny flowers they produce are usually trimmed away to let the plant focus on producing fuller leaves. But, these small flowers are magnets for hummingbirds! If you let the coleus plants flower, hummingbirds will visit the plants often throughout the day.
Hummingbirds are drawn to brightly colored flowers, so choose plants that are bright pink or red. And pairing them with other plants in these bright pink and red colors will give you an extra boost of hummingbird attracting color.
I’ve used this formula for my window boxes for several years now, and it’s a no-fail hummingbird magnet. I’ve sat on our front porch and time after time watched the hummingbirds zip right up to enjoy a snack from the coleus flowers!
Because I love a good window box, but wanted my plants to get at least a little sunlight on the porch, I decided to plant a few reliable shade plants in a flower box hung from brackets on our front porch railing. I use the thriller, filler, spiller method of filling my boxes, which breaks down like this.
What is thriller, filler, spiller?
- Thriller – showy plants that grow tall
- Filler – medium sized plants that grow fuller than tall, or mounding plants
- Spiller – trailing plants that will spill out of your planter, down the front and sides
For my flower box, I used coleus plants as the thriller, impatiens as the filler, and creeping jenny as the spiller. These are all plants that should be easy to find at your local garden center or nursery.
When planted, arrange the spillers (here, creeping jenny) at the front and sides, then mix in the thrillers (coleus) and fillers (impatiens) leaving some space for them to grow and fill in.
I plant my boxes in late April or May here in North Carolina, then watch them fill in nicely as the warm weather arrives for summer. I do not trim down the flower stalks on the coleus when they form, and they quickly spike up with tiny white and purple flowers that hummingbirds just love. Here you can see how the box has filled in within two months.
Full flower boxes are totally my jam, so this year I’ve stuffed it full. I tried a few new plants this year with the coleus, and I’m excited to see how it grows in.
This year I’ve included a new trailing plant – silver spotted dead nettle which has a nice silvery leaf for a different look. I also swapped begonias with light pink and white flowers and darker leaves to pair with the darker red coleus leaves. I did add in a little creeping jenny for a pop of bright green.
I’m excited to see how full it grows!
Here are a few ideas for shade loving plants that attract hummingbirds to add to your containers, pots and window boxes.
Plants for shade window boxes
- Heuchera aka coral bells (can be both a thriller and a filler)
- Heuchera aka coral bells
- Creeping jenny
- Spotted dead nettle