Garden Plants for the Birds
large & medium trees
- Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) - great fall color with star-shaped leaves and large round seed-balls which many species of bird will eat.
- Sourgum (Nyssa sylvatica) - unusual form and excellent fall color. dark fruit in late summer and fall attracts wood thrush, flickers, grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, & scarlet tanangers.
- Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) - white spring flowers. fruit eaten by many species of bird.
- American Mountain-ash (Sorbus americana) - attractive & abundant orange fruit for many species for birds
- Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) - fruits & winter shelter for many species of birds. Good windbreak. Best in a hedge or border. Spruces, pines, & hemlock are also good evergreen choices.
- Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) - good nesting tree, nice fall color
- Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis & laevigata) - interesting bark. small orange-to-black fruits attract many bird species.
- Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) - always grows perfectly straight with good form and beautiful tulip-like flowers, which are favored by hummingbirds.
Other possibilities include any of the native trees such as oak, hickory, ash, birch, beech, walnut, bald cypress, hornbeam, and hop-hornbeam.
- Serviceberry (Amalanchier canadensis & arborea) - fruits eaten by many species. beautiful spring flowers.
- Flowering and Pagoda Dogwood(Cornus alternifolia & C. florida) - fruits perfered over other species of dogwood. beautiful spring flowers & form. seek disease resistant cultivars of Flowering Dogwood.
- Flowering Crabapple - (Malus spp.) - fruits for a variety of birds. excellent spring flowers.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) - provides fruit and a protected nesting site.
- Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) - fruit loved by birds and people.
- Speckled Alder & Hazel Alder (Alnus rugosa & serrulata) - best in damp or swampy borders. seeds eaten by many species.
- American Hazel/Filbert (Corylus americana) - attractive form. nuts favored by bluejay and hairy woodpecker.
- Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) - tolerant of many conditions. beautiful spring flowers. seeds eaten by mockingbirds, catbirds, bobwhite, and wild turkey.
- Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) - unique form and texture. red bunches of fruit are attractive to people and many species of birds. i perfer the wild variety to the cutleaf variety available in nurseries. Smooth and shining sumac (R. glabra and R. copallina) are also good choices.
- Wahoo Tree (American Strawberry Bush) (Euonymus americana) - interesting pink fruit eaten by by many songbirds.
- American & Red Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis & pubens/racemosa) - Beautiful large shrub with berries for birds & pies. golden-leaf cultivars available.
- Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) - large shrub with good fall color and showy red flowers which are attractive to hummingbirds.
- Sassafrass (Sassafras albidum) - great fall color. blue fruit attracts many birds. needs acid soil.
- Viburnum - showy spring flowers. fruit eaten by many birds. At this time all of the native viburnum in this area are susceptible to viburnum leaf beatle, and not recommended. Recommended non-native species include V. plicatum (Doublefile Viburnum), V. rhytidophyllum (Leatherleaf Viburnum), V. judii, V. carlisii, V. davidii, V. setigerum, & V. bodnatense.
- Red,Black, or Purple Chokeberry (Aronia spp.) - fruits attractive to the eye and the birds.
- Inkberry, Winterberry & Possumhaw (Ilex glabra, Ilex verticillata & Ilex decidua) - fruits attractive to the eye and the birds.
- Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) - fruits not showy, but liked by the birds. nice form and foliage.
- Sandcherry & Chokecherry (Prunus pumila & Prunus virginiana) - fruits eaten by many birds. Sandcherry has purple foliage.
- Weigela (Weigela florida) - beautiful pink spring flowers favored by hummingbirds.
- Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) - creeping & upright forms available. abundant & showy fruit eaten by many species of bird.
- Pussywillow (Salix discolor) - great choice for wet areas. good nesting site for goldfinch.
- Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) - pink flowers loved by hummingbirds. large and small cultivars available.
- Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina) - beautiful pink flowers, hips are eaten by a some birds. Meadow Rose (R. blanda) and Rugosa Rose (R. rugosa) are also good choices.
- Gray Dogwood, Silky Dogwood, Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus racemosa, C. amomum, C. sericera) - provide berries and protection. Best in borders.
Other good candidates include Huckleberry, Dangleberry, Buttonbush, Sweetfern, Shrubby St. John's Wort, Fly Honeysuckle, Dogberry, Gooseberry, Current, Brambles (Blackberry, Raspberry, Thimbleberry), Snowberry, Coralberry, Lowbush/Highbush Blueberry, Beautyberry, Aralia, Spicebush, Mahonia, and Firethorn.
Such as Virginia Creeper, Sawbrier (Smilax glauca), Greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia), Trumpet Honeysuckle, Trumpet Vine, and various wild grapes.
Such as Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), Bunchberry/Creeping Dogwood (Cornus canadensis), Creeping Cotoneaster, Wild strawberry, Wintergreen, Creeping Juniper, Partridgeberry, and Bog Bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum),
Perennial and Annual Flowers with Edible Seeds
Such as Asters, Centaurea/Cornflower, Bellflower/Campanulas, Thistle, Black-Eyed Susan, Goldenrod, Ageratum, Cosmos, Cleome, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea),China Aster (Callistephus chinensis), Coreopsis, Celosia, Dusty Miller, Amaranth, Phlox, Portulaca, Purslane, Silene, Scabiosa, Tarweed, Berbena, Sunflower, and Zinnia.
Hummingbirds and ButterfliesPerennial Tubular Flowers with Nectar for Hummingbirds and Butterflies
Such as Bee Balm, Butterfly Bush, Columbine, Cardinal Flower, Coral Bells, Hollyhock, Honeysuckle, Indian Pink (Speigelia marilandica), Jewelweed, Joe-Pye Weed, Morning glory, Penstemon, Phlox, Sage, Trumpet Vine, Red Buckeye.
Annual Tubular Flowers with Nectar for Hummingbirds and Butterflies
Such as Four O'Clock (Mirabilis jalapa), Fuchsia, Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)(self-seeding), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja spp.)(self-seeding), Petunia, Zinnia.
List of Northeast Butterfly Host Plants (where they lay eggs to overwinter) - click here
You can do a custom search for plants attractive to birds and/or butterflies here.
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