Plants for Feeding Birds

Garden Plants with Seeds that Birds Love

Birds bring beauty and sound to a garden. It's nice to put out bird feeders with seed and suet to attract birds to your yard and garden. But birds still like to forage and find their own food and it's especially important to have food for them to find, when the feeders are empty. There are many wonderful trees and shrubs with fruits and berries in the fall and winter months. Less often talked about are the common garden flowers with seeds that most birds seem to gobble up. Let the last...MORE blooms stay on these plants throughout the winter and wait until spring to cut them back. Along with nourishment, many provide shelter and nesting material, too.

  • 01 of 10
    New England Asters
    Photo: mrmac04

    There are many asters that are garden-worthy and most of them bloom late in the season when a spot of bright color is especially welcome. Look for an aster variety that does well in your region. Many are native plants and will attract all types of pollinators, but they all attract some type of bird, among them: cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, indigo buntings, nuthatches, sparrows, towhees.

  • 02 of 10
    Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
    © Marie Iannotti

    Like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans are a prairie garden staple and can remain standing through most of the winter. These are tough, hardy plants that won't mind sitting in snow or wet soil. Some of the birds feasting on rudbeckia seeds will be: American goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, and towhees.

  • 03 of 10
    Conflowers (Getty Images #: 678916763)
    Photo: Amy Hendrickson / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Coneflowers will bloom long into fall and, with their sturdy stems, can remain standing long into the snowiest winter. Among the birds seen pecking at coneflowers are the American goldfinch and the pine siskin. Although there are many new varieties of coneflowers in an assortment of colors, stick with the traditional purple coneflowers, if you want the seed to feed the birds.

  • 04 of 10
    Coreopsis Grandiflora Photo
    © Marie Iannotti

    Coreopsis is a reliable repeat bloomer, especially Coreipsis grandiflora. If you thought all that cheerful yellow throughout the summer was the only contribution your Coreopsis plants make to your garden, watch for the songbirds its seeds will attract.

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  • 05 of 10

    Globe Thistle

    Globe Thisle (Echinops)

    Globe Thistle, is a nice alternative to the nyjar thistle used in bird seed mixes and globe thistle is a much more attractive and well-behaved plant. The steely blue flowers will slowly fade in color and the seeds are especially popular with goldfinches.

  • 06 of 10

    Goldenrod (Soladago)

    Goldenrod Flowers (Solidago)
    Don Johnston / Getty Images

    Goldenrod packs a double punch. Several birds, like finches, pine siskins, yellow-rumped warblers, indigo buntings, will munch on its seeds. But it’s also a popular overwintering site for insects. So the birds get a well-balanced meal from one plant. Don't confuse goldenrod with ragweed, which blooms around the same type and is responsible for torturing hay fever sufferers. Goldenrod, especially the newer, better-behaved cultivars, does not contribute to hay fever.

  • 07 of 10
    Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)
    Mark Turner / Getty Images

    Stately Joe Pye Weed can often be seen in meadows alongside roads. You can grow the tall species in your garden or opt for one of the more refined cultivars. Birds love Joe Pye Weed seeds to eat as well as to use the fluff for building warm nests. Look for chickadees, wrens, titmice and juncos

  • 08 of 10
    Sedum Plant
    © Marie Iannotti

    Many gardeners keep sedum plants standing for winter interest. It seems to start re-growing as soon as the old leaves die. Leave the flower heads on and you will attract many types of local birds. Even the ground hugging sedum varieties are popular with pretty much all types of seed eaters.

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  • 09 of 10

    Silphium (Cup Plant, Prairie Dock, Compass Plant)

    Cup Plant (Silphium)
    Gert Tabak The Netherlands / Getty Images

    This genus of tall, daisy-like flowers can be quite a sight in the garden when the flowers bloom way at the top of their 6 - 8 ft. stems. But birds, like finches, prefer them as their seeds are drying out.

  • 10 of 10
    Zinnia 'Scarlet Splendor'
    Zinnia 'Scarlet Splendor' 1990 AAS Winner. Photo Provided by The National Garden Bureau (http://www.ngb.org)

    If you’ve grown zinnia and collected their seeds, you know how many there are in each flower. A single plant can keep a sparrow or goldfinch busy for an afternoon. Other annuals to keep around for seed include Impatiens and marigolds.