Will birds eat these berries?

birdsrwonderfulMay 3, 2007

I just planted an American Cranberry bush and am hoping the birds will enjoy eating the berries.

What has been your experience with this bush. Is it good for wildlife?

Thanks for your replies.

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vonyon

I'm in New England. I still have them hanging on the shrubs from last year. So I have to say the birds here don't eat them, but I have heard that it depends on your region. In any case, they are beautiful glossy red, so the berries will give you some color in your garden through the winter.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 10:46PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Highbush cranberries need to go through a freeze/thaw process to make the berries palitable. They ARE eaten by the birds but most tend to hit the ground before being eaten as they have dried to a raisin-like state by the time they are palitable.

Better natives for you would be dogwoods, nannyberry, arrowood viburnum, black elderberry and fruits such as gooseberry, black raspberry etc...The most delicious berry though (according to my birds) is the berry from the native serviceberry shrub. For me the native is Amelanchier canadensis...that one could be native for you too but I would look it up as there are many varieties of serviceberry across North America.

Barb
southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 8:28PM
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vonyon

Barb, that is good to know. I went out there tonight and the plants are leafing out with clusters of red raisins on them.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 10:21PM
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tweedbunny

"Better natives for you would be dogwoods, nannyberry, arrowood viburnum, black elderberry and fruits such as gooseberry, black raspberry etc...The most delicious berry though (according to my birds) is the berry from the native serviceberry shrub."

Ohhh... I would be in HEAVEN if I could get beautiful woodland plants like this to grow in my hot, clay-filled, desert yard! You lucky ducks....

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 5:11AM
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birdsrwonderful

OOPS! Looks like I may have made a poor choice with the cranberry bush. At least Vonyon says it looks pretty in the winter. I haven't seen any flowers on it yet so maybe I won't see any berries either. It is a pretty, healthy looking bush right now so I hate to dig it up immediately.

Thanks for the suggestions Barb. I will see if I can find any of those especially the serviceberry. I have never seen one to my knowledge.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 12:22PM
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birding_nut(6)

We had those cranberry bushes growing wild behind our house when I lived in NY. Birds I saw eating the berries, were Cardinals, Cedar Waxwings, Robins, House Finches, and White-throated Sparrows. Most of them were eaten late in winter so this shrub is beneficial in providing food when a lot of other stuff has been depleted. I would keep it if I were you...variety/diversity is good to have in your yard for birds. Serviceberry is a shrub that fruits in the summer...so birds eat it then and they are all gone by winter. Nannyberries on the other hand do hang on into winter and are eaten before the cranberry bush berries.

BN

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:12PM
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dadgardens

I have three large V. trilobums in my yard; in the early they are covered with red berries; byNew year's they are almost stripped of berries.

Cardinals, blue jays, robins, and sparrows seem to like them a lot.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 9:28PM
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birdsrwonderful

Thanks BN and dadgarden. I am encouraged to know that sometimes the birds do eat the cranberries. Good info about the Serviceberry. I will also see if I can find a Nannyberry bush. I have never seen those at the garden centers around here. I need to find out if they have another name in this area.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 3:25PM
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kelp

Nannyberry, AKA Viburnum lentago, is hard to find. Blackhaw is easier-V. prunifolium. They're both trees. If you want shrubs, you could also try Mapleleaf viburnum(V. acerifolium) or Hobblebush (V. alnifolium). They don't grow as tall as Nannyberry or Blackhaw.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 9:28AM
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vonyon

It must depend on the region (which I have heard is the case) or my birds just have plenty to eat, but I went out today to see my American cranberries blooming and still holding the fruit from last year. I would not trade them for the world though. I think the leaf, flower and fruit are all beautiful.

I think you can find nannyberry either at NH Nursery or Cold Stream farm in Michigan. I have about 10-15 that I bought at one of those a few years back.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 11:23PM
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birdsrwonderful

Thanks for the replies. I have another question about the cranberry bush. The one I bought just about a month ago and planted right away has had no flowers on it as of yet. Is it too late this year for it too bloom and if it is do you think it will bloom next year or do I have a "dud" bush?
It sounds like it will be a beautiful plant and I am anxious to see it with the berries.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 10:52AM
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vonyon

It would really be better if it didn't bloom this year. I think you want it to put its energy into the roots this year. As with all viburnums, it will berry better if it has another blooming at the same time so that it can cross-pollinate. Like apples, you get more fruit that way. I wouldn't worry about it this year.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:52PM
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birdsrwonderful

Thanks for the good info vonyon. I feel better about it not blooming now. Obviously the plant is smarter than I am. So far it is a healthy looking bush and I think has increased somewhat in size already. Does anyone have any suggestions as to fertilizer type and timing/frequency?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:16AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I wouldn't fertilize it at all. The only help any of my plants have is to add Fertilome's Root Stimulator when I plant and maybe a month later. And an occasional watering if the conditions call for it. Especially on new plants.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:42PM
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vonyon

Birdsrwonderful, Its not that you aren't smart, just anxious. Its understandable. I have heard that you should pinch flowers on plants the first year. I don't know if that includes shrubs, but it makes sense. The beauty of native shrubs is that they are meant to grow in your soil. I have planted mine in really minimal soil. In fact, some was an area that my contractor originally planned for a road bed! They are all growing like crazy with no fertilizer. I would agree with terryr.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:23PM
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birdsrwonderful

Thanks to both of you for the advice about not fertilizing. I am keeping it watered every couple of days since it is a new plant and it has been hotter than normal for this time of year. I also put some mulch around it. I think the light green leaves with a touch of red are very pretty.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 3:13PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

You might not get blooms next year either. I have viburnums, but not the Viburnum trilobum. Neither my Viburnum lentago (nannyberry) or my Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw) have bloomed. I planted them in spring of 05. Waiting, waiting, waiting.....On the other hand, I ordered a bare root Viburnum dentatum last spring and that thing has not only tripled in size, but it also bloomed this year.

We lived for a short time down in SE TN, just north of Chattanooga, still in Hamilton County. I e-mail a friend down there and she was telling me today that you guys are in a drought situation. We had had very little rain in May here until last Sun when it rained all day long. We received 3.6" of rain! So there's hope!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:05PM
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vonyon

Terry, Hmmmm, I wonder what the problem is? I have had very good luck with all the viburnums. I got blooms and berries the second year, but I did plant around 200 shrubs that year and it has been wet here since. I have NEVER had to supplementally water them (thankfully) as I would have gone broke!! The wildlife gods were watching out for me I guess. I'm sorry to hear that and hope you get some blossoms this year.

Birdsr: The plant is very attractive. I like everything about it including the trilobed leaves and the beautiful berries (even if the birds don't like them). I understand you can make jelly with the berries, but I like to look at them. Be aware that it tends to layer and can begin to take up quite a bit of space widthwise. I suppose you could just keep it in check by cutting the branches that fall and layer, but hopefully you have the space.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 7:55PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

vonyon, I don't know why no blooms on those two viburnums yet. I know that the year (05) I planted them was a tie breaking dry year. Tap water just isn't the same as rain water. They've grown, just not as well as I would of expected or no where near like that arrowwood planted just last year. If no blooms this year, then I certainly expect them next year or I'm going to be pretty disappointed!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:17PM
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birdsrwonderful

Vonyon what do you mean by layering? Lots of branches growing on top of one another horizontally? Sorry if this is a "silly" question. I have no experience growing viburnum and so don't know what to expect.

Terry: yes we have had very little rain here. It is a lot of work trying to keep things watered. But the rewards are worth it. Hopefully mother nature will take pity on us soon.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 10:06AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

birds, what I know as layering is when the branches hit the ground, they take root and grow into another shrub. That way they keep on going. Like a forsythia does. And yes, you bet the rewards are worth it! Just gets exasperating when there is no rain, only tap water. Tap water just doesn't give them whatever it is that's in rain water. Or maybe it's that tap water has added things that rain water doesn't have...lol.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 5:46PM
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vonyon

Birds r . . .There are no silly questions. It is exactly what Terry said. Some plants tend to do that as a habit. This particular species does that. You will want to put them in a spot that has room to spread out or keep them trimmed back.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 8:24PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Can these take some sun? I had another viburnum that didn't make it thru that hard freeze we had in April. It's pretty sunny now, but when my trees get going, there won't be much sun.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 8:49PM
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vonyon

I believe that berrying bushes need full sun to produce fully. I don't know that that is entirely true though as I see them on edges of woodlands in mostly full sun, but certainly next to and under trees.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 7:53AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I think I'll get one. Now these aren't the ones that the blooms smell bad, are they? It will go next to the porch, so I don't want anything bad smelling there.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:51AM
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birdsrwonderful

Terry & Vonyon thanks for explaining layering to me. Not at all what I thought it was. What a great resource the people on this site are.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:56AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

You're very welcome birds! We all have to learn this stuff someplace, and I too am glad for the wealth of knowledge on this forum. I learn something new every day.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 11:43AM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

I planted a V. lentago somewhere around 2001-03 and it still hasn't bloomed. I think it's in too much shade. I plan to move it next March. My highbush cranberry planted the same spring has bloomed twice. It got frozen this spring and didn't put out any new flower buds.

Do they need pollinators? I've never had fruit on the highbush cranberry.
VG

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 1:29PM
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vonyon

Birdsrwonderful.........you're welcome just paying it forward for all the good info I learned here.

VG: My (very limited) understanding of viburnum requirements is that they benefit but do not require pollinators. I think like apple trees, they benefit from viburnums of different parentage that bloom at the same time. So, if you have two shrubs of the same species, I don't think they pollinate each other even if they do bloom at the same time. If, on the other hand, your lentago and trilobum bloom at the same time, they will cross pollinate and produce better. Like I said, my knowledge is very limited. I wish one of the viburnum experts who used to come here could be here to answer. Why don't you try posting this to the shrubs forum. There is a guy named Kevin and a guy called viburnum valley that are really amazing. They posted some lists of potential cross pollinators once. If the threads haven't dropped off they may still be here. I'll take a look.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:47PM
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vonyon

Ok, here are links to two of the golden oldie viburnum threads. I'm sure there were more that have since dropped off. :o( Is anyone interested in emailing one of the experts and beg them to come back?

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wildlife/msg1011015213454.html?74

and

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wildlife/msg0417235424200.html

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:06PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have Wentworth American cranberry bush in my yard and the birds do eat the berries but not their favorite thing in the winter. This spring there were still some leftover fruit on it when the catbirds arrived from down south. They quickly finished up the leftover fruit so nothing went to waste.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 10:04PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Vonyon, thanks for the information and the links! I could not remember where I had posted this and did a search for my name. I came up with lots of threads but not this one! Just dawned on me today. You'd think it would have been easy to figure out. Oh well!
VG

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 1:35PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Who are the experts vonyon?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 9:42PM
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vonyon

Terry, The people I really learned a lot from were Viburnum Valley, Kevin and others whose names escape me at the moment. If I think of them, I'll come back and post. Those are the people I was thinking of anyway. I emailed them and never heard back, so I guess they're either too busy gardening or gone for good.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:15PM
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birdsrwonderful

Hi all. This thread has been really informative to me and I appreciate everyones comments.

It seems to me that viburnums are really important for feeding birds but it also sounds like they are or can be very large bushes. Does anyone know of any smaller varieties that still provide birds with food?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 9:10AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Yes, there are many smaller varieties of viburnums but they are more difficult to find. Usually local nurseries carry the more common and larger types. I know Wentworth grows really large, mine is at least ten feet and I think I planted it in spring 2003.

Kevin and Viburnum Valley were the ones on this forum who could have given you a list of the smaller viburnums to get but unfortunately, I don't know which to list. To me, they both are sorely missed on this forum. Lots and lots of knowledge about viburnums that information they freely shared with anyone asking questions here.

One thing I can say is that a viburnum commonly listed as being a smaller one, Blue Muffin, is not at all small. Mine grew so large I had to move it this spring from the front of the border where I had it to the very back of the row because it was so tall.

Another thing is pollination. To set berries you need the correct partners or no fruit set. I myself had many problems with that when I started planting viburnums and it took some additional shrubs to get things right.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 10:28AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

birdsrwonderful, try contacting this place

Classic Viburnums 1385 Q Rd. Upland, NE 68981 308-425-3057

Unfortunately, they don't have a website, but if you call them, they can send you out their CD with all the plants and the prices. They can also answer any of your questions.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 10:51PM
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