Plants for Feeding Birds

Hummingbird and Colorful Vibrant Pink Zinnia Flowers in the Garden
Marcia Straub / Getty Images

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 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 09


    Aster flowers with purple radiating petals with yellow centers clustered together

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 09

    Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

    Black-eyed Susan flowers with radiating yellow petals and black centers on thin stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 09


    Coneflowers in garden with bright pink radiating petals and orange cone-like centers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 09


    Coreopsis flower with bright yellow circular petals on thin stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 09

    Globe Thistle

    Globe thistle plant with silvery-green stems and leaves with bright purple globe-like flowers on top

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Globe Thistle, is a nice alternative to the nyjar thistle used in birdseed 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 09

    Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)

    Joe Pye weed plant with bright pink flower clusters on tall stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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

  • 07 of 09


    Sedum plant with light purple and green flower clusters on stall and dense stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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.

  • 08 of 09

    Silphium (Cup Plant, Prairie Dock, Compass Plant)

    Silphium plant with radiating yellow petals around brown centers on thin stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 to 8 feet stems. But birds, like finches, prefer them as their seeds are drying out.

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  • 09 of 09


    Zinnia flower with bright red and white double-petals on thin stem

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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.