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Hummingbird Food DIY Recipe

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Gone are the days of red dye and synthetic ingredients in your hummingbird food. Offer them a tasty treat with our crazy simple hummingbird food DIY recipe.

Hummingbirds have always fascinated me. Their ability to hover, their amazing speed, and how they appear to dance with the air. As long as I can remember, my grands and my ma had a red feeder hanging outside the window to attract hummingbirds. Little did we know back then that the red food dye was bad for them. Now that we know better, this simple DIY Hummingbird Food Recipe fills those feeders and attracts them just as good. 

In addition to the simple hummingbird food recipe, I’ll share a fool-proof way to stop ants from eating all their food!


Is it Better to Make Your Own Hummingbird Food?

Commercial products sold as “instant nectar” or “hummingbird food” may also contain preservatives and/or artificial flavors as well as dyes, and are not necessary. The long-term effects of these additives on hummingbirds have not been studied and therefore should not automatically be considered safe.  

Besides, it’s crazy simple to make your own hummingbird food DIY style, why risk it?

Hummingbird Food- Don’t let them starve

Hummingbirds consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight. 

Spring is the time for the hummingbird migration from southern Mexico and Central America. In some warmer state, this migration can start as early as January.

Fall migration tends to get overlooked as an important time to offer these tiny creatures some food. However, by August and September, their breeding periods are complete, and the hummingbirds begin moving south for the fall migration.

They refuel their bodies in the early morning, traveling midday, and foraging again in the late afternoon to maintain their body weight.

As the hummingbirds make their way back to their northern and southern homes, they will need to stop for food and fuel. By making your own hummingbird food, you can aid in their migration.

homemade hummingbird food recipe

Hummingbird Flowers- The Best 18 Plant Families for Natural Nectar

In order to help support the hummingbirds (as well as other beneficial pollinators) consider planting flowers to attract these amazing birds.

The Hummingbird Society

  • Abutilon (Chinese Bell Flower)
  • Agastache (Cusicks Giant Hyssop)
  • Aloe Vera
  • Anisacanthus (Desert Honeysuckle)
  • Aquilegia (Crimson Columbine)
  • Caesalpinia (Bird of Paradise)
  • Callistemon (Crimson Bottlebrush)
  • Chilopsis (Desert Willow)
  • Fuchisa
  • Hamelia (Firebush)
  • Justicia (Shrimp Plant)
  • Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
  • Lobelia (Fools Bane)
  • Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Penstemon (Beard-Tongue)
  • Salvia (Sage)
  • Tecoma /Tecomaria
plant these plants to help feed the hummingbirds.

Herbs to Plant for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds will sip nectar from various herbs that produce tubular flowers. This includes most members of the sage and mint families, as well as mallows and lavender.

Mint is one of those herbs that everyone seems to have luck growing. If you would like to learn more about adding mint to your garden for the hummingbirds and other pollinators, we have this article just for you~ Mint: How to Grow, Cook, & Use Fresh Mint

Four great herbs that will help attract hummingbirds to your garden include

  • Anise Hyssop (Agastache Foeniculum)
  • Hummingbird Sage (Salvia Guaranitica)
  • Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
  • Red Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma)

Each of these herbs are relatively easy to grow and produce nectar-rich blooms.

Hummingbirds love this list of herbs. We also offer a hummingbird food DIY recipe.

Hummingbird Food DIY Recipe

Make sure you have an ample source of food available for these feathered friends with this Hummingbird Food DIY Recipe. 


  • 1 cup granulated (organic) cane sugar
  • 4 cups of filtered water


  1. Place these in a saucepan, heat just until sugar dissolves.
  2. This is very much like preparing simple syrup.
  3. Turn the heat off, allow to cool.
  4. Keep refrigerated.
  5. The feeders will need cleaning every couple of weeks in order to prevent mold.

Do not add red food coloring, it is not necessary and is not good for their little diets

Trouble Shooting Your DIY Hummingbird Food

  • Do I need to Boil Sugar Water? Yes, you need to dissolve the sugar. However, don’t boil it too long, just enough to see the sugar crystals disappear.
  • Ants or Bugs in Hummingbird Feeder. See bonus tip below to help with this.
  • What is the correct sugar to water ratio for hummingbirds? According to the Smithsonian’s Nation Zoo & Biology Conservation, a ratio of 1:4 is needed. So that’s one part sugar to four parts water.
  • Sugar Water is too Thick. You either boiled it too long or you didn’t use enough water. In either case, you can add m ore water until is resembles the consistency of a light syrup.
  • Mold in The Feeder/Water. Clean out the feeder and place in a pan of hot water and a splash of vinegar for ten minutes. Rinse and dry with a paper towel. Make a fresh batch of hummingbird food making sure all pans, spoons and anything used is completely clean.

Hummingbird Feeder DIY Bonus Tip

Ants can sense food from far distances and seem to have a special attraction to sweets. To keep ants out of your hummingbird feeder you need to make an ant trap moat.

All you need to make this moat is:

  • an old (clean) medicine cup
  • a wine cork
  • two round eye bolts.

Screw one round eye bolt through the bottom of the medicine cup and into a wine cork, then screw another eye bolt through the bottom of the cork.

Fill the medicine cup with water and it will act like a moat to keep ants out of your feeder, hang your feeder from the bottom of the cork like in the picture above.

Hummingbird Migration

Want to know when the hummingbirds are headed your way? Check out this migration chart so you’ll be ready with their hummingbird food. 

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