It's that time of year when the days are getting warmer and longer. Birds chirping, flowers blooming, and yards across America have lawns and gardens in full bloom. But as you know from experience (or if you're reading this blog post), sometimes it can be hard to coax birds out of hiding so you can get a good look at them up close! Of course, birds and wildlife will flock to your yard if you provide them with food, water, shelter, or a place to raise their young. But what plants are best for attracting birds and other wildlife? This blog post is about the 12 best plants for attracting birds and wildlife to your garden. It provides information on plant species that attract native and migratory birds and those that provide cover from predators like hawks or cats.
- Plant native plants from your local area: Native plants grew in your area before being developed. Birds and other wildlife have been using these native plants for food, shelter, or to raise their young for hundreds of years. Planting native plants is best for attracting birds and wildlife because it provides them with food that they're familiar with, so they are more likely to visit your garden. Some examples of common eastern North American native plant species include trilliums, pawpaws, cardinal flowers, trout lilies, partridge peas, bonesets, joe-Pye weed, black cohosh, bluets, and many more! You must take care of these plants in your gardenandgrass to maintain wildlife in your yard.
- Bird feeders: Put up bird feeders in the winter when natural food sources are scarce. Put out suet during the breeding season to attract insect-eating birds like woodpeckers, warblers, nuthatches, and titmice. These species will also eat sunflower seeds or peanut butter suet cakes. You can purchase suet at your local bird supply store, or you can make your own using beef fat and other ingredients. You may not even need to provide water if you have a bird feeder close by because many birds will eat from your feeders, then take baths in nearby water sources after eating their fill!
- Install a water feature that attracts birds and other wildlife: If you have a stream, pond, or lake nearby, you can create a birdbath by placing rocks and gravel in the water to create a shallow area where birds can get a drink. Add a small pond to attract frogs, turtles, and insects. Don't forget to put out fresh, clean water for birds in the summer, especially during periods of drought when natural sources are scarce: Bird baths should be cleaned once per week and filled with fresh, clean water daily.
- Best plants for attracting birds and wildlife: Common eastern North American native plant species include trilliums, pawpaws, cardinal flowers, trout lilies, partridge peas, bonesets, joe-Pye weed, black cohosh, bluets
- Black cohosh, a perennial plant native to North America, blooms in early summer with clusters of white flowers that grow about one foot tall. Its seeds attract songbirds as well!
- Trout lilies, native to North America. They are one of the first flowers in spring that attract wildlife and birds with their sweet nectar.
- Cardinal flower is a perennial plant whose red blossoms can be seen atop tall stalks in early summer. The seeds provide an essential source of food for birds and other wildlife.
- Milkweeds are the only plants on this list that provide an essential source of food to Monarch butterflies. Milkweed is also popular with other wildlife like deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds.
- Sunflowers provide nectar to bees as well as a food source for chipmunks and other small animals. Sunflower seeds are also popular with many songbirds.
- Cardinal flower is an herbaceous perennial that provides nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds and a source of food for birds. It also attracts dragonflies!
- Wild petunia, bee balm or wild bergamot, fireweed (a summer annual), and joe-Pye weed are other herbaceous perennial plants loved by bees and hummingbirds with butterflies and birds.
- Aster – this pretty flower blooms in late summer and can be found growing wild on roadsides. Antelope horns, Chinese Houses, or Mexican Sunflowers are other common asters that attract butterflies and birds.
- Butterfly Weed – this bright red flower is very popular with butterflies, and it grows wild on roadsides across North America. It's also known as pleurisy root or orange milkweed because some Native American tribes used it for medicinal purposes. It is an herbaceous perennial that provides nectar for bees and butterflies and food for many bird species. Butterflies love it!
- Columbine- many different types of columbine grow wild in the US, but they're all equally popular with hummingbirds. Columbines are also known as granny's bonnets or quaker bonnets, and there are many different colors of columbine available to choose from depending on where you live.
- Fringe Cups – these tiny yellow flowers attract butterflies like crazy and have a sweet fragrance. You can find fringe cups (and many other types of wildflowers) growing in meadows, forests, and even on the side of old country roads!
- White Wild Indigo is one of my favorite native flower plants because it blooms very early in the spring before most flowers are out. White wild indigo is also a beautiful white color with purple speckles, and it has a powerful fragrance.
- Grow vines on trellises to create shade for smaller plants underneath them: small plants are more accessible to small animals and are an excellent food source.
Honeysuckle is a climbing vine with small white flowers in the springtime and dark berries in late summer/fall, providing excellent early season forage for birds. Additionally, honeysuckle vines are very easy to grow and can be used as living fences or arbors: they also help keep smaller plants up off the ground, away from some pest insects.
Lilies and other blooming flowers attract Insect-eating birds: provide several types throughout your garden for a variety of different color combinations that will attract more species! Birds such as warblers, hummingbirds, orioles, and others eat nectar out of flowers, and they are also attracted by feeders filled with birdseed.
If you're looking for a specific species of birds to attract, consider providing habitat that is similar to where the animals live in their natural environment: waterfowl will visit shallow ponds with aquatic plants; ducks like dense grasses or shrubs near wetlands; warblers and other songbirds will enjoy brushy areas; and hummingbirds like to perch on plants with long, tubular flowers.
Conclusion: It would help if you planted a diversity of native plants in your yard to create a natural environment close to the forests and natural wildlife surroundings. If you want to get birds, butterflies, and other wildlife into your yard this year, plant some of these wildflower plants!