perennials for birds

cydonia33(7a)September 12, 2005

Hi!!! I just love this forum! O.K... I live on a small city lot and have pretty much maxxed out my space for large plants. This year alone I planted a river birch, a cornus florida, a cornus red dosier, a serviceberry, two different arrowood viburnum varieties, a clethra alnifolia, three virginia sweetspires, 1 mountain laurel, two rhodies... all for the birds, bees, and butterflies!! Did I mention I have quite a small lot?? All I really have room for is to fill in between my shrubs and trees with wildlife-friendly perennials. I already have a clump of coneflower, a clump of monarda, and a clump of goldenrods... and I think I'll keep the pokeweed and the dayflowers that are growing wild that I saw the cardinals feasting on today. What other perennials can I plant that will be enjoyed by the local bird population? My yard is in partial sun, and has rich, acidic soil. Thanks for any and all suggestions!


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You should plant native grasses. Also look into native perennial sunflowers (not the big showy annual hybrids, but the species) and black-eyed susans (various Rudbeckia species). All of these need sun, however. Birds will eat the grass seeds all winter (I always host a mixed foraging flock, headed by juncos, in winter) and the perennial seeds all the time.

If you look at the Prairie Nursery catalog or website, you will find species that will do well in your conditions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Prairie Nursery

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 11:11AM
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Thank you for the link. It is very informative. There were several grasses listed that take part sun to shade, and I actually need something "grassy" for some texture, so this is the way to go. Thanks again.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 1:27PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Think about going vertical, too! A vine can be a great attraction, whether it's on a trellis, a post, a fence or a tree. Some vines that grow well for me in the suburban Philly area include

Lonicera sempervirens (native honeysuckle) - hummers love it

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) - will grow all over you if you let it, but again, the hummers love it

Clematis virginiana (virgin's bower) - heaven for late pollinators, it blooms from August through early fall

Aristolochia durior (Dutchman's pipe) - larval host for pipevine swallowtail, great for covering large, ugly spaces (like the side of my garage...)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) - can also be a ground cover, pollinators love the flowers, birds like the berries

As for other perennials to consider, think about coreopsis for the birds and phlox for the butterflies.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:25PM
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Here's one more that is easy to grow and native to our region Agastache scrophulariifolia, purple giant hyssop The goldfinches hummingbirds butterflies all love it.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 6:10PM
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How about a couple of nice feeders with some high quality seeds..raisins..suet..peanuts? Always attracts a diverse crowd to set up light housekeeping in your wonderful trees!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 6:47PM
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Thank you all. That pic of the finch is great. I have seen that plant around town, being attacked by bees, but wasn't quite sure what it was. Now I know.

Jill, is the clematis you mentioned that fragrant white flowering vine that is blooming like mad right now, and seems to be growing like a weed all over my hood? I love it, and have a fence between the yards that I can grow it on.

I have two feeders in my yard, but then I started noticing mouse droppings outside my house, then when the droppings started appearing INSIDE the house, that was it--- the birds were cut off. Besides, no matter how top shelf the bird food I give out is ($13 for a small bag, with raisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other goodies), all I can seem to atrract to my yard are those damn HOSPS... by the dozens. I will go back to putting food out for the birds once the harsh winter sets in.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 10:34PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

You may be seeing clematis virginiana in your neighborhood, as it just finished blooming here - or it could be C. terniflora, an exotic introduced from Japan. I'm not quite sure how to tell them apart (although I'm sure there are any number of ways, if I troubled to look them up!) - anyway, that's why I made sure to purchase mine from a reputable supplier of native plants!

The best all around seeds for attracting desirable birds but not the HOSPs are probably safflower and thistle. You're better off with the plantings and putting out water, though. Once your plants start maturing, you'll see an increase in numbers and diversity, just wait.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 10:47PM
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wardw(z6 NJ)

Only partly in jest I'd say crabgrass. Anyone who doesn't use herbicide on their lawn is bound to have it, and it is hard to think of a more prolific seeder.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:35PM
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jillhudock(z7 PA)

Be careful of the Virginia bower, it is considered invasive in parts of this country. I notice you are near me (Phili) and I ripped one out about 5 years ago and am STILL weeding it out of all my beds. I would suggest not planting it. Here is what the federal database says:

virgin's bower
devil's darning needles
This plant is considered invasive by the authoritative sources noted below. This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above.
N'EAST Uva, R.H., J.C. Neal, & J.M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York.. 397pp.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 2:39PM
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I found this somewhere:
Virgin's bower is easily confused with sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora or Clematis paniculata), an Asian vine that has escaped from gardens. The two vines can be distinguished by their leaves; on a virgin's bower, almost all leaves are have jagged teeth. Sweet autumn clematis has rounded leaves, which are mostly untoothed.

I assumed that the virgin's bower was weedy/invasive because it is coming up mostly in people's yards who let their yards "go wild," so to speak.

I have TONS of crabgrass!!!

I also have virginia creeper growing up my trellises and fence, but I am still waiting for the berries... When can I expect them to appear?


    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 3:30PM
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