Wednesday, July 17, 2019

5 Flowering Perennials That Attract Birds

Bird on Echinacea flower seeds

Bird-watchers who want to see them up close usually attract them with bird feeders, houses and baths. Why not? The avian friends are provided their creature comforts, and we enjoy the pleasure of their company. But they are also attracted to natural sources, especially foods. By planting flowers that produce seed and nectar, we can beautify our landscapes and feed the birds at the same time.

When choosing them, consider bloom time, the types of seeds and nectar produced, and the species they would attract. From early to late, nectar to seed, this will provide extended seasons of color and bird-watching interest. Otherwise, planting for the birds should follow the same principles you would for planning any garden.

There is also a financial benefit; perennial herbs and vines produce nectar and seeds season-after-season so you don’t have to buy so many so often.

You must remember that to grow flowers successfully for the birds, you shouldn’t dead-head them,i.e. remove the spent flowers. It defeats the purpose if the seeds aren’t allowed to mature. Another consideration is that plants should be chosen for their minimal maintenance requirements. Selections that require pesticides to prevent insects and diseases present a hazard to the birds.

Here are 5 flowering perennials that the birds and you will love.

Coreopsis is a bright-flowered plant that resembles large asters. In fact, Coreopsis is a member of the Aster family. Most are yellow, but some are in pink shades, too.

Coreopsis is commonly known as tickseed, and for good reasons. Coreopsis means "bug-like", in reference to the little dry fruits called achenes which in some ways resemble insects. Not only are the seeds small and brown, their hair-like structures cling to passers-by who brush against them; and they don't just drop off, they must be picked off. Thus the name, Tickseed. Birds love them!


Dendranthema, commonly known as “hardy garden mum”, is a gorgeous, old-fashioned looking plant with blossoms that resemble large daisies. Colors vary, but my favorite shade is pink. It’s what you might expect to see in your grandmother’s garden. Maintenance is minimal. It blooms in late summer or fall. Birds are attracted to their abundant seeds.


Echinacea is known worldwide for its showy flowers, reputed herbal remedies, and abundant seeds. It’s native to the United States and Canada, and known by many names including Hedgehog or Purple Cone flower, and Comb flower. All because of the very obvious seeds. Birds notice them, too. The handsome flowers are often used in decorative fresh and dried arrangements. The plants require very little maintenance, are drought-tolerant, and will grow just about anywhere.


Rudbeckia is one of my summer favorites, and not mine only. I often pass cars parked beside highways, the driver and passengers strolling among bright-flowered patches to pluck bouquets. Birds also love the seeds of Black-eyed Susans.

They’re mighty easy to grow, especially R. fulgida, which is the great-granddaddy of the most reliable perennial cultivars. If they’ll grow untended beside the highway, they ought to thrive for you. Read my article, Rudbeckia – Where Black-eyed Susans Grow, for in-depth info on this memorable and ever-popular selection.


I admit that Sedum is not the first flower that comes to mind to those who want to feed the birds, but I want to remedy that. As you know, sedum flowers prolifically. All those tiny jewels at shoe level are perfect for ground-feeding species.

Beside the fact that the seeds nourish birds, sedum is a marvelous ground cover for filling cracks and crevices in rock gardens and stone walls, and for cascading out of containers. What’s more, sedum will grow just about anywhere. If you garden from USDA climate zone 3 to 9, sedum will probably thrive for you.

These suggestions, of course, do not represent all the plant choices to consider. Asters, Centaurea, Cosmos, Gaillardia, Helianthus, Leucanthemum, Papaver, Solidago, Tagetes, and even those cursed Taraxacum (Dandelions), attract birds. Think outside the bird feeder when you think of feeding the birds.!

For these and many other bird-friendly plants,!

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