One question that lingers in the minds of all bird enthusiasts and gardeners is: Do hummingbirds like begonias? The answer is yes, hummingbirds are attracted to you begonias albeit based on a few conditions. It’s just like buying a gift for a friend that you don’t know too well. Will they like it or not?
And when it comes to hummers, the answer is that hummingbirds are attracted to flowers with abundant nectar, and begonias are one of such flowers.
With their beautiful, colorful blooms and easily accessible tubular flowers, begonias are an ideal plant to attract these small, quick birds to your garden. In this article, you will learn:
- a quick overview of hummingbirds
- why they are drawn to begonias
- how to attract hummers with begonias
- the varieties of begonias that attract hummingbirds
- other plants to grow alongside begonias to attract more of these birds
Let’s get into it…
Hummingbirds – An Overview
Hummingbirds are tiny birds with extremely fast flapping wings enabling them to hover in midair and even fly backward. Their name comes from the characteristic humming or buzzing sound created by their rapidly beating wings which flap at rates of 50-200 times per second depending on the species.
- There are over 325 described species of hummingbirds found exclusively in the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to Chile.
- They are the smallest birds in the world, ranging in size from the aptly named Bee Hummingbird at just over 2 inches to the 8-inch Giant Hummingbird of South America.
- Iridescent feathers in metallic greens, oranges, blues, and purples adorn the throats and crowns of males of most species. Females are more subtly colored.
- Their extremely fast metabolism leads them to consume over half their weight in nectar each day obtained from hundreds or even thousands of flower visits.
Hummingbirds have the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate animal. To support their high energy needs, they feed almost exclusively on sugar-rich nectar and tiny insects including spiders, gnats, mosquitoes, fruit flies, and aphids. When seeking nectar, hummingbirds prefer flowers that offer:
- Bright, vibrant colors in the visual spectrum attract them visually, especially shades of red.
- Tubular or trumpet-shaped blooms match their specialized beaks and tongues.
- Little or imperceptible fragrance since hummingbirds have a poor sense of smell.
- An open form allows easy access to the nectar reward inside.
By landscaping with plants that provide essential food sources, you can successfully attract these energetic, acrobatic birds to take up residence in your yard.
Why Hummingbirds are Drawn to Begonias
Red and yellow begonias
Begonias are popular flowering plants with over 1,800 species originating from the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and especially South and Central America. Some key facts about begonias:
- They thrive in filtered sunlight and high humidity.
- Plants range from compact 6-inch bedding types to giant upright varieties reaching 6-10 feet tall in optimum conditions.
- Leaves come in a variety of interesting shapes and patterns in shades of green, red, silver, purple, and even black.
- Flowers appear in continuous clusters throughout the growing season in colors of white, pink, coral, orange, yellow, and red.
- Blooms consist of 4-6 petals on male flowers and 3 winged sections on female flowers.
Many begonia hybrids and cultivars are excellent at attracting hummingbirds to gardens due to:
- Tubular-shaped blooms perfectly suited to the long, slender beaks and extensible tongues of hummingbirds reaching inside to lap up nectar while hovering.
- Bright floral colors in the red, orange, and hot pink spectrum appeal strongly to a hummingbird’s visual perception.
- A minimal fragrance that would interfere with a hummingbird’s lack of olfactory senses and deter them from visiting.
- Continuous flowering from spring through fall provides a consistent and reliable nectar source during the growing season.
Here are some of the most popular begonia varieties proven to draw in hummingbirds with their plentiful blooms:
When planning a landscape design to attract hummingbirds, make begonias a priority for their tubular flowers in colors that appeal to hummingbird vision, lack of competing scents, and long flowering from spring through first frost.
Growing Begonias to Attract Hummingbirds
When planting begonias to lure hummingbirds to visit your garden or yard, keep these tips in mind:
- Select a partly shaded location protected from the hot afternoon sun which can burn leaves. Morning sunshine is ideal.
- Enrich planting beds with organic compost and use a rich, loose, and well-draining potting mix in containers. Begonias require consistently moist soil.
- Water thoroughly when the top inch of the soil is dry. Increase watering during heat waves. Avoid wetting foliage which can cause disease.
- Apply a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during active growth and flowering.
- Certain begonia species and hybrids fare better growing indoors than outdoors. Check plant tags for recommended location.
- Bring potted begonias indoors before the first fall frost. Most common garden types are not cold-hardy.
- Prune back leggy growth and heavy flowering stems to encourage bushiness and new blooms.
- Propagate begonias from leaf, stem cuttings, or rhizome division for free plants each year.
Group bright colors of tuberous or wax begonias together in beds, borders, window boxes, or hanging baskets to create a splash of color. Place containers on decks, patios or porches near seating areas where you can comfortably observe hummingbird activity up close as they feed. Distribute some red, orange, and pink flowering plants throughout your yard to spread the feeding habitat.
Companion Plants to Go With Begonias
While begonias are a prime choice, consider incorporating other hummingbird-favored flowers that can complement and extend the blooming and nectar availability:
Early Season Bloomers:
- Fuchsias – Dangling red and purple flowers loaded with sugar-rich nectar.
- Columbines – Scarlet and yellow blooms with sweptback petals and nectar spurs hummingbirds love.
- Lupines – Tall spikes of pea-like flowers in a range of colors.
- Petunias – Trumpet-shaped flowers in bright reds, purples, pinks, and corals begging hummingbirds to visit.
- Bee Balm – Dense clusters of tubular red flowers atop lush green foliage.
- Coral Honeysuckle – Bright red tubular flowers for hummingbirds to probe with sweet nectar.
Late Season Bloomers:
- Cardinal Flower – Spikes of brilliant red tubular flowers attract hummingbirds before migration.
- Cannas – Large flowers in vibrant red, orange, pink, and yellow hues.
- Scarlet Sage – Abundant spikes of rich red flowers from summer through fall.
Check for native plants in your region that hummingbirds are specially adapted to use for food and shelter. Native species are ideally suited to local soils, climate, and ecosystems.
Providing Full Habitat Needs
In addition to planting nectar-producing flowers, you can make your yard even more attractive as a habitat for hummingbirds by providing for their other needs:
- Install 1-2 hummingbird feeders with fresh nectar (1 part white sugar boiled with 4 parts water) to supplement blooms.
- Place feeders in the open near flowers so birds can perch and access them easily.
- Change nectar every 2-3 days, or daily in hot weather, and clean feeders weekly to prevent mold.
- Provide a shallow bird bath, mister, or water feature for drinking and bathing.
- Refill water daily and clean weekly to give fresh clean water.
- Mist plant foliage, trees, and shrubs daily to quench thirst and allow drinking from water droplets.
- Allow dead leaves, tall grasses, and plant debris to accumulate in out-of-the-way corners to supply materials for nest building.
- Plant a mix of trees, shrubs, and vines to create protected areas for nesting, roosting, and shelter from predators and weather.
- Avoid pruning plants, trees, and shrubs during the spring nesting season.
- Never use pesticides or herbicides which reduce food supplies and can leach into nectar sources.
- Keep cats indoors or supervised when hummingbirds are present. Cats will prey on birds.
- Place decals on windows to help prevent collisions that can severely injure or kill hummingbirds.
Do Hummingbirds Like Begonias? – Final Thoughts
With their energetic nature and dazzling iridescence, hummingbirds are a delight to observe visiting any garden. By incorporating a mix of tuberous begonias, wax begonias, and other nectar-producing companion plants in your yard along with food, water, shelter, and safety measures, you can successfully create an attractive habitat certain to draw in these tiniest and most captivating of birds.
Vibrant begonias offer an easy, beautiful, and reliable way to provide sustenance for hummingbirds across the entire growing season. Any gardener seeking to increase hummingbird activity around their home should definitely make begonias a feature for their non-stop blooming nature, bright colors, tubular flowers, and irresistible appeal to hummingbirds.
FAQs About Hummingbirds and Begonias
How long do hummingbirds feed from each flower?
Hummingbirds only spend 10-15 seconds feeding from each flower before moving rapidly to the next. They consume over half their body weight in nectar daily, requiring visits to hundreds or thousands of flowers.
What colors of flowers most attract hummingbirds?
Red, orange, and hot pink flowers have the most visual appeal to a hummingbird’s eye and attract them best. Yellow and purple flowers are also regularly visited. Blue is less attractive since hummingbird vision is poor in the blue spectrum.
Do hummingbirds sleep at night?
Yes, hummingbirds enter a hibernation-like state at night called torpor where their metabolic rate slows, body temperature drops dramatically, and heart rate falls to conserve energy.
Should I deadhead spent begonia blossoms?
Yes, pinch or snip off old flower heads regularly to encourage new blooms which provide nectar. Deadheading also improves plant appearance.
Are begonias annuals or perennials?
Common tuberous and wax begonias grown as bedding plants are usually annuals. Dragon Wing and other cane-like types are perennials in frost-free climates. Rhizomatous begonias persist year-round in ideal environments.
How do I overwinter potted begonias?
Before frost, bring containerized begonias indoors next to a sunny window. Reduce watering to prevent root rot and stop fertilizing. Prune away dead leaves and spent flowers. Resume normal care in spring after danger of frost has passed.