Thistle seeds bad?

organic-kiki(Zone 6)June 19, 2006

I bought a thistle sock and attracted some goldfinches this spring. I have been really excited about having them in the yard. Today I was going to buy more seed and my husband said, "You can't put that in the yard! The thistles will sprout and be all over the place!"

He says they have super long roots and we'll never get rid of them.....I'm thinking if that's true we already have them as the sock has been out there a week or so.

What do you all say about the thistle seed, please? Is there anything else to attract the finches besides waiting for the coneflowers and is it the purple ones they like?



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lisa11310(z5 MI)

I say hubby is overly concerned. I have had Niger Thistle out there for over a year in several feeders, I have NO thistle plants growing. I even found an old feeder the squirrels ran off with that had moist thistle seed in it and had been in the sun, nothing growing..... I DO have sunflowers comming up all over from the BOSS. The squirrels and chimpmunks like to help plant it around the yard!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 5:52PM
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candyinpok(5b or 6, NY)

I've had a variety of thistle feeders in my yard for years and have no thistle growing. I have millet sprouting from the mixed seed feeders, but no thistle.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 7:15PM
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ellix(augusta ga)

I too have thistle in 3 feeders and have never had any to grow. I find the gold finchs eat it and now are going to plants that are seeding -any plants. I also find they love the hulled sunflower feeders. I went out and found wild growing thistle plants -3 types so far in order to get some thistle to grow in my back--far back yard as they are a host plant for some butterflies.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 10:34PM
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Thanks, that makes me feel better. By next spring I can point out to him that there are no plants growing from the seed. These birds are so great to watch.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 10:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The seed that we purchase as 'thistle' seed is not a thistle AT ALL. Not even remotely related to thistle. It is correctly called Black Nyjer, a pretty yellow flowering plant from Ethiopia (I think).

The reason why we all don't have huge crops of nyjer coming up under our feeders is that the seed is heat treated so that it is no longer viable.

I don't know how the heck the confusion with thistle started many moon ago, but it sure makes no sense whatsoever!

Feel better?

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Nyjer seed, not thistle!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 10:42AM
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Yes, thanks.....I was willing to have a yard full of thistle plants, but hubby sure wasn't keen on it.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 1:47PM
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Something else to remember about thistle, er, black njerger, bah, I'm calling it thistle. Goldfinches will ignore the seed after a few weeks when it gets stale.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 8:36AM
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Hmmm, I have thistle/niger seed and the excess does sprout like crazy!! I'm not sure why mine would and others don't??

It seems to me, that in years past it didn't but this batch surely does! I think I got it at Lowes' last year--a huge bag of it!

BTW--I'm new here, I'm usually on the Hosta Forum, mostly!! :O)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 9:33PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

But let's remember that the seed that may be germinating from your Nyjer seed is NOT thistle.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 8:39AM
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marilena8(Zone 7 MD)

I have some nyjer seed from last year and the birds don't seem to be eating it. What do I need to know about keeping and storing this seed. Also, does it go bad in the rain? It costs too much to waste. Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 3:31PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Marlena, I had an old bag (previous year) of niger/thistle seed that smelled 'off' to me while still in the bag...that kind of scent you would expect from olive or other cooking oil that had gone bad. I replaced the seed and didn't try using it, I don't know if the birds would have minded or not.

I feed finches and chickadees the seed in the sock type feeder, and it seems to dry quickly after rain (even days of rain), stays loose in the bag and doesn't clump or get hard, still attracts birds.

I keep mine in the bag I buy it in, in my kitchen...but I have a heat pump and the humidity in my house is low. If you're concerned about it aging, you could always put it in a sealed container, or even your freezer - my aunt lived on a tropical island many years and kept all seeds, nuts, beans, flour, sugar etc for their own human use in the freezer :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 1:20AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I only fill my feeder about 1/3 full of Nyjer seed. My feeder has one of those removable plastic dome covers to help protect it from rain. I keep the seed in the chest freezer in the basement, original bag in a tightly sealed bag. It appears to stay fresh indefinitely.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 9:00PM
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I am beginning to think there is another reason thistle seed might be bad - I've always had thistle socks out - year after year, and suddenly this year the price of the seed skyrocketed. I had put out a large circular screened feeder becz I had so many goldfinches.
But they didn't stay long and I thought there was something wrong with the feeder. I know they raise young in July so I put out more socks and it attracted them again right away, but in less than 5 minutes they were all gone. It's the seed they don't like - is there something wrong with this year's 'crop' of Thistle Seed?? Has anyone else noticed this? My pet store (where I get cracked corn for the wild turkeys) told me many people were complaining there were 'no goldfinches this year' - well they come, but they quickly leave. I think the seed is actually bad - and not becz of reseeding thistle plants - which it does, if you don't mow well. I have the goldies on my coneflowers, but not at the feeders as before. I wonder if the seed is contaminated? I don't know how anyone could tell except the birds rejecting it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:48PM
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