Creating a Vibrant Southern California Hummingbird Garden

Written by Susan B.
Creating a Vibrant Southern California Hummingbird Garden (Ten Hummingbird-Attracting Plant Recommendations)

California is one of the few states where hummingbirds stay throughout the year. And because of our mild climate, we’re able to plant flowers to create a year-round habitat that lures them to our nectar-rich flower choices. And once they discover your floral buffet, you’ll be able to enjoy their frequent visits – several times a day. 

Pollinator Support Tips 

  • Create interest in your landscape with native plants. When we talk about native plants, we’re not referring solely to flowers. There are many varieties of ornamental grass as well as shrubs that are also native to our area. These plants are vital because they give insects and hummingbirds places to lay eggs and build nests. They offer shelter for these creatures when they want to rest or sleep. 

  • Look for nectar-rich flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the year. This will give pollinators, including hummingbirds, a nectar source all year. 

  • Don’t be afraid to group plants in clumps. Groupings of plants will allow multiple hummingbirds to feed simultaneously without being seen. Since some species are aggressive and territorial, the only way to prevent one hummingbird from bullying others and chasing them away is to make sure that every bird that comes to feed on your plantings can do so undetected. 

  • Avoid using pesticides and insecticides. 

  • Provide hummingbirds and pollinator insects with water through a birdbath, solar-powered fountain, or a hanging water feeder. 

  • Put up hummingbird feeders. Fill them with a solution of one cup of sugar to every quart of water. Take your feeders down to wash and refill them every two days during heat spells, and no more than every three to four days during milder weather.

Native California Hummingbirds

Anna’s Hummingbird 

Anna’s hummingbird is the most common species found in California. At one time, its habitat was strictly confined to the western part of Southern California and the northern Baja peninsula. Its habitat has expanded so that it is now found from Baja up the far west coast of the United States north to Canada. 

Male Anna’s have hot pink on their heads and throats, and iridescent green feathers that are clearest in bright sunlight. Anna’s migratory behavior is complex. They don’t fly south for the winter. They do often go to higher elevations or to other local areas in search of abundant food sources. Plan your habitat so that you have nectar-rich flowers blooming throughout the year. 

Anna’s hummingbirds are very territorial. As they fly around, they engage in showy diving behaviors around other birds and people. It’s their way of showing others that the area belongs to them. If you want to keep one bird from chasing others away, you need to spread your plantings out and vary the height of flowers you choose. That way, the aggressive bird won’t see others as they feed on flowers on your property. 

Allen’s Hummingbird

There are Allen’s hummingbirds who live in California all year. Those who migrate fly up the Pacific coast through a small swatch of chaparral and scrub in early spring. Their breeding territory extends along the coastline from the California border up into Oregon. Allen’s hummingbirds who migrate return to Southern Mexico for the winter.

Male Allen’s hummingbirds have a bright orangish-red gorget. Their tummies are a rust-colored orange, Adult males are short and stocky. Adult females and immature males have a non-distinct metallic green with pale rust-colored specks on their backs. Their underbodies are light.  

Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbirds are year-round residents of Southern California. Both males and females have very short tails. Adult male Costa’s have a deep purple gorget (throat) that extends towards the sides – like an ultra-long mustache. Mature females have greyish-green backs. They also have a very distinctive gray patch on their cheeks. They have a white eyebrow-like stripe. And their bellies are partly white. The wings on perched Costa’s hummingbirds are barely longer than their very short tails. 

Ten Hummingbird Attracting Plants for Every Season

Hummingbird Sage-Salvia spathacea 

Hummingbird Sage is a member of the mint family. It is native to California, where it is found in areas in the Central and Southern parts of the state. It is an evergreen perennial shrub that prefers dry shade or partial shade, but it does best in full shade. It grows to between 1-and-3-feet tall, and it spreads to a width of 3 feet through rhizomes. It produces dark rosy-pink to red flowers that bloom during winter, spring, and summer, creating a fruity aroma when in bloom. 

Black Sage-Salvia melifera

Black sage is a perennial shrub that is the most common California save species. With a moderate growth rate, its height will reach between 3 and 6 feet. It spreads to a width of ten feet in a mounding form. It produces blue, lavender, and white flowers that bloom in spring, summer, and winter. Flowers emit a pleasant aroma. 

Bush Monkey Flower-Mimulus longiflorus and Mimulus Puniceus

Bush Monkeyflower (also known as Island Monkeyflower and Sticky Monkeyflower), is a perennial flowering shrub. It is native to an area that extends from Baja, Mexico, through all of California up to southern Oregon. It is an evergreen shrub that has a moderate growth rate. Its mature size ranges from between 3.9 feet to 5 feet tall, and it spreads to 5 feet in width with a mounding growth habit. Its scentless flowers are orange and yellow and bloom during winter, spring, and summer. 

Big Berry Manzanita-Arctostaphylos glauca

Big Berry Manzanita is one of the native California Manzanitas. It is a perennial shrub/tree that is best for rocky slopes. It does best when the planting site faces north – or lies in at least partial shade. Avoid planting it where it will get sun from the south. The ideal planting location should be near large rocks. If that’s not possible, surround the shrub with a circle of large stones after planting it. 

Big Berry Manzanita grows at a slow to moderate rate. Its height can range from a short 3.3 feet to a massive 20 feet tall. It will spread from between 6 and 20 feet in width. This evergreen bush produces slightly fragrant pinkish-white flowers that bloom during winter and spring. 

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria)
This striking perennial plant produces tall, vibrant red, orange, or yellow flower spikes from late spring to early fall. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to 3-4 feet tall.
Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans): This vigorous, climbing vine produces large, trumpet-shaped orange or red flowers from summer to early fall. It can quickly cover fences, arbors, or trellises, making it an excellent choice for adding vertical interest to your garden. Plant in full sun to partial shade.
These versatile perennials produce delicate, bell-shaped flowers in various shades of red, pink, or white atop slender stalks. They’re also known for their attractive foliage, which comes in a range of colors. Coral Bells thrive in partial shade to full sun and grow up to 2 feet tall.
This low-growing, native California perennial produces tubular, bright red or orange flowers from summer to fall. It’s drought-tolerant and attracts hummingbirds with its vibrant blooms. Plant in full sun or partial shade, and it can grow up to 2 feet tall.
This evergreen shrub is known for its distinctive, brush-like red, pink, or white flowers that bloom from spring to summer. It can grow up to 10-15 feet tall and prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
This aromatic perennial features tubular red flowers that bloom from late summer to early winter, attracting hummingbirds with their sweet nectar. Pineapple sage prefers full sun to light shade and well-draining soil. It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall.

By incorporating these hummingbird-friendly plants into your Southern California garden, you’ll create an inviting and colorful space for these delightful pollinators to visit throughout the year.

We encourage you to come in to see our selection of native plants as well as other popular and less well-known nectar-rich flowers. Our garden experts are eager to help you find what you need or recommend plants and flowers they know will do well in our area. And if you’re new to gardening, we’ll help you create a habitat that will bring hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to your landscape year after year.  

Do you like what you see? Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get content like this every week!