Attract Birds To Your Winter Garden

Americangoldfinch_fBoxH - Bill Ko

American Goldfinch Photo: Bill Ko

Attracting birds to your garden in winter is easy to do by leaving the flowers of summer and fall-flowering perennials alone after the flowers fade, allowing them to form seed.

Attract Birds To Your Winter Garden

Gardeners are often quick to prune off spent flower heads of flowering perennials such as asters, coneflowers, coreopsis, globe thistle, goldenrod, penstemon, rudbeckia,  and salvias.  But, when you prune the flowers from these plants, you are robbing birds of a great source of seeds.

We often focus on the beauty of these flowering plants without realizing that they have much to offer our feathered friends once the flowers fade.

Chaparral Sage: Attract Birds To Your Winter Garden

The flowers of Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii) a favorite of hummingbirds throughout the spring and summer.

Chaparral Sage spent flowers

In winter, their dried flowers contain seeds that are a welcome treat for birds while adding welcome textural interest to the winter garden.

Penstemon in flower

The pink flowers of this drought-tolerant Penstemon adds beauty to the garden throughout the growing season.

Penstemon Seedpods

However, when not in bloom, the spent flowers offer seeds to feathered visitors.

Maple Seeds

Seeds from trees, like this Maple, also provide an important food source for birds.

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Once the plumes fade from ornamental grasses like these Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), the seeds will extend an invitation for birds to visit your garden.

Leaving plants such as these, alone throughout the winter not only attracts birds to the winter garden – they also add texture with their spiky shapes to an otherwise barren landscape.

*If you don’t care to see dried flower heads in high-profile areas, then you can simply cut them off (leaving long stems) and tie them together and hang from a tree.Perennial flowers

Coreopsis, Coneflower and Rudbeckia

So, as you get ready to plan your garden this year, be sure to include a few of these plants which will provide beauty throughout the growing season and attract birds to your garden in winter.

For other ways to attract birds to your winter garden, check out Birds & Blooms article, “10 Tips to Attract Birds”.

    • patty skupaka says

      A lot of plants grow in the snow. you just can’t see them under all that snow., If you don’t have that much snow all year around you will see. I have Heather plants that bloom in winter.

  1. brunhilde says

    I need something that grows in the winter in savannah ga …. please that is easy … for me to have . I would rather have potted plants that come back every year .

    • santhosh.kumarNoelle says


      I visited your beautiful city last spring. How about growing Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) in a large container? They have beautiful flowers and will do well throughout the year.

  2. Helen Demsien says

    I’m trying to find your FREE CONTAINER PLANS on your webside. (It should have 11 step-by-step planter guides for your outdoor containers). I like to plan ahead what I will put in pots on our patio in May. It is always fun to get ideas from your magazine.
    Can you tell where to find them on your web page? Thank you! Helen Demsien

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