Seed-Bearing Flowers and Birds

Flowers to Plant to Attract Birds With Seeds

American Goldfinch on Flower
Many small finches, such as goldfinches, are attracted to seed-bearing flowers. Photo © Don Kasak/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

Birders who hope to see hummingbirds often plant nectar-bearing flowers to attract them, but hummers aren't the only birds attracted to flowers. There are many seed-bearing flowers and birds can't get enough of their abundant seeds. Not only are these flowers an attractive addition to your landscape, but they'll be attractive to many hungry birds as well.

Birds Eating Seeds

There are many species of birds that feed on seeds, and without birdseed available, they are perfectly happy to find wild seeds from flowers, grasses, weeds, shrubs and trees.

Adding seed-bearing flowers to a yard can attract birds such as sparrows, towhees, quail, finches, doves and other species. Small, agile birds that can perch on flowers to feed directly from the blooms are often attracted to seed-bearing flowers, while larger ground-feeding birds feed after the seeds have been shed. All types of birds will scratch on the ground or through leaf litter in search of fallen seeds, making these flowers beneficial long after their blooms have faded.

Benefits of Adding Seed-Bearing Flowers to Your Landscape

Not only can seed-bearing flowers be an attractive addition to bird-friendly landscaping, but blooms that produce copious seeds can help birders save money on birdseed. Flowers produce large amounts of natural seed, providing nourishment for a great number of birds without birders continually buying more seed to refill empty feeders. Flowers can also attract a greater variety of birds, especially shy species that may be unwilling to come out in the open to visit feeders.

Depending on the types of flowers selected, plants can continue producing seeds for years with minimal pruning or maintenance required, and uneaten seeds will grow into new blooms to enlarge the buffet. With so many great results from seed-bearing flowers, even a few flowers can be beneficial to backyard birds.

Seed-Bearing Flowers That Attract Birds

There are dozens of flowers that produce seeds to tempt birds. The most popular seed-bearing flowers for backyard birds include:

  • Asters
  • Black-eyed susans
  • Coneflowers
  • Coreopsis
  • Cornflowers
  • Cosmos
  • Daisies
  • Dandelions
  • Evening primroses
  • Goldenrods
  • Hibiscus
  • Marigolds
  • Moss roses
  • Poppies
  • Sedum
  • Sunflowers
  • Violets
  • Zinnias

From just a single plant or two to designing an entire bird-friendly flowerbed, these blooms can be amazing to add to the yard and very attractive to hungry birds.

Tips for Attracting Birds With Seed-Bearing Flowers

When choosing which flowers to use to attract seed-eating birds, consider:

  • Climate: Choose flowers that can thrive in the local climate, taking into account water and sunlight levels. Also note growing season lengths to be sure the flowers will be able to reach their full potential, including reblooming if possible.
     
  • Soil Type: Flowers will be healthier and produce more blooms if the soil is nourishing. Choose plants that will thrive in your soil type, and use fertilizer, mulch, compost and soil amendments as needed to keep the soil rich and luxurious.
     
  • Growth Height: Opt for flowers of different mature heights for a multi-layered, thick garden that will attract many birds. Plant taller flowers in the back of a bed and use tiered designs to give birds easy access to many different blooms.
     
  • Overall Space: Flowers can grow into wide clumps, and they will produce the best blooms if they have enough space to spread out. Good spacing will also give room for uneaten seeds to bloom into new plants. If there isn't enough space in your yard, consider growing these flowers in containers.
     
  • Native Plants: Native flowers are often best because they're well adapted to local conditions and birds will recognize them as a food source more easily. Native plants will be hardier for your climate conditions, are resistant to pests and diseases and will require less care to stay beautiful.
     
  • Seeding Time: Choosing flowers that go to seed at different times will ensure an ongoing source of available seeds for birds in any season. You can also achieve this effect by planting flowers in groups at different times to prolong the growing season.
     
  • Include Grasses: Ornamental grasses may not be as showy in the flowerbed, but they can provide abundant seeds that birds will devour. Consider adding several bunches of grasses as accents with your flowers for even more seed-bearing options.

To attract the most birds with seed-bearing flowers, allow the blooms to grow with as little interference as possible. Avoid deadheading, since it is the dried heads that birds will pilfer for seeds. Similarly, avoid spraying the flowers with insecticides – not only are these chemicals toxic to birds, but once birds learn about the flowers, they'll happily feed on insects as well for natural pest control.

Flowers can be a great seed source to attract and feed birds on a beautiful budget. By choosing the best seed-bearing flowers, backyard birders can add plants to their yard that are both visually attractive and can tempt hungry birds without the need to fill feeders.