What makes a garden into a welcoming club room for birds? Simply put,
water and shelter. Provide these three basics and your landscape can
quickly become an avian haven. Today I'll have a few more suggestions
for plants that you might want to consider if attracting birds is one
of your priorities.
If you missed last week's column, which was the first part of a two
parter on bird-friendly gardens, you can find it under the Plant Man
heading at my Web site, www.landsteward.org
Food will always be a major motivator. Essentially, plants that provide
fruit, nuts or seeds are the ones that are the most likely to attract
Additionally, plants that provide nesting materials, shelter from the
weather or a comfortable roosting location will make your landscape
even more bird-friendly.
Here are some more plants that appeal to both birds and bird lovers:
American Bittersweet (Calastrus scandens)
Plant some Bittersweet and watch birds and other wildlife as they enjoy
the clusters of yellow-orange fruit when it ripens around October. If
you can harvest any before the birds have pecked it all away, you can
make delightful fall floral arrangement with the boughs. Bittersweet
adapts well to most soil conditions and can reach a height of 6 to 10
feet at maturity.
Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus)
I like the highly fragrant reddish brown flowers on this dense, rounded
deciduous shrub. The birds like the urn-shaped fruits that are really
seed capsules, developing in early fall and often lasting well into the
By the way, this shrub is sometimes called Strawberry Bush because the
blooms smell a bit like a combination of strawberries, bananas and
pineapple. Even the leaves are pleasantly fragrant when you bruise them
to release the aroma. Planting Carolina Allspice near a window or
around a patio would be a good way to enjoy the fragrance and the
I particularly like two varieties named Robinson Crabapple and
Centurion Crabapple. The former is the faster growing of the two and
sports distinctive pink blossoms. The Centurion has a rose-red flower
and, with a mature height around 25 feet, is a good choice for
landscaping or alongside a driveway.
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Spicebush produces shiny red berries (called drupes) that are
attractive to a variety of birds including American Robin, Northern
Bobwhite and the Great
Crested Flycatcher. Spicebush can make a very pleasant hedge when
planted about 3 feet apart. It has a mature height of 3 to 6 feet and
produces fragrant yellow-green flowers in early spring.
Viburnum Cardinal Candy (Viburnum dilatatum)
Yes, I've told you about this one before, but definitely worth
mentioning again! This Viburnum produces masses of shiny scarlet-red
fruit that really is "eye candy" and seems to be a bird's version of a
candy treat, too. The fruit starts appearing in late summer and quite
often can still be seen in early spring the following year. By May, the
branches are covered by creamy white flowers and the process begins all
Red Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
This dense, thorny shrub produces both leaves and fruit that are
delightful shades of red. As well as food, this bush can provide a safe
haven for birds as the thorns will usually deter the neighbor's kitty
from plunging in too recklessly.
Arnolds Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera arnolds red)
The birds and the bees - well, definitely the bees anyway - will be
drawn to this Honeysuckle that seems to grow well in just about any
soil type short of a swamp. With bright red blooms in spring, it is
tough as well as attractive, and makes an ideal screen or hedgerow with
a mature height between 6 and 10 feet.
And be sure to provide fresh, clean drinking water for your birds to
enjoy after all their munchies!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, including archived columns, visit