Pinxter Azalea and Palamedes Swallowtail Photo: Will Stuart

Bird-Friendly Native Plants

Nectar for Hummingbirds: The Sweet Azalea

The Sweet Azalea is one of our top Bird-Friendly Native Plants of 2017, and a particularly important food source for our local Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Azalea flowers grow in a funnel-shape, and range in color from white to pink with red stamens that extend beyond the petals. Held in small clusters of 3-7 flowers, they bloom profusely in early to midsummer. Their glossy green leaves then turn deep red to purple in fall.

Find this and other plants at your local participating retailer.

Birds that Love Azaleas

According to Audubon’s Guide to North American Birds, “hundreds of kinds of hummingbirds nest in the American tropics, and more than a dozen in the western U.S., but east of the Great Plains there is only the Ruby-throat.”

At the peak of summer, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are commonly found in open woods and gardens, especially when flowers like the Azalea are in full bloom.

Featuring a strong fragrance, the Sweet Azalea provides nectar for hummingbirds and supports a variety of caterpillars (up to 50 species) for baby-bird food. By hovering over the flower, beating its wings more than 50 times per second, this hummingbird collects nectar and plucks insects from its foliage to survive.

How it Grows

Native to eastern North America, Sweet Azaleas are a wonderful landscape plant, perfect for backyards and gardens. This bird-friendly native plant grows best in sun to part shade, and can achieve a height of 3-6 ft.

Toxic to humans, Azaleas are beloved by deer, butterflies, and of course, hummingbirds.

Sweet Azalea is one of many 2017 Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year. Learn more about our other 2017 picks here!

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