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.
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.
The flowers of Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii) a favorite of hummingbirds throughout the spring and summer.
In winter, their dried flowers contain seeds that are a welcome treat for birds while adding welcome textural interest to the winter garden.
The pink flowers of this drought-tolerant Penstemon adds beauty to the garden throughout the growing season.
However, when not in bloom, the spent flowers offer seeds to feathered visitors.
Seeds from trees, like this Maple, also provide an important food source for birds.
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.
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”.