Top 10 Plants That Attract Waxwing Birds

Every garden should have waxwings! With a little planning, you can bring in these gorgeous fliers with colorful fruit-bearing plants that attract birds.

Strawberry

Strawberry

Fragaria, Zones 3 to 10

The flowers attract butterflies while the fruit brings in waxwings and other fruit-loving birds. Watch for the beautiful red leaves in fall. June-bearing varieties produce one bumper crop per season. If you want several crops, try growing day-neutral or everbearing varieties.

Why we love it: There’s always room for strawberries, since you can grow them in the ground, in hanging baskets or in container gardens.

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Winterberry

Winterberry

Ilex verticillata, Zones 3 to 9

The red berries of this deciduous holly brighten gray or snowy winter landscapes. Be sure to plant at least one male for every five female plants so there’s fruit for the waxwings to feast on. Combine winterberry with evergreens and ornamental grasses for a pleasing winter scene. The plant is tolerant of wet acidic soils.

Why we love it: A few berry-covered branches will do wonders for your winter container gardens.

Juniper

Juniper

Juniperus, Zones 2 to 9

From tall and slender to low and spreading, juniper comes in a wonderful diversity of shapes. The prickly evergreen needles provide shelter, while the berrylike cones offer food for the birds. Needles can be green or bluish-green and may be tipped in white or yellow. Some turn bronzy-purple for winter, while others remain green to brighten the landscape.

Why we like it: There’s at least one type of juniper that will grow in just about any part of the world.

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Serviceberry

Serviceberry

Amelanchier, Zones 3 to 9

Also know as juneberry or shadbush, this four-season beauty provides white flowers in spring, fruit in June and great fall color. When the leaves drop, they reveal beautiful smooth gray bark. Both tree and shrub forms are available in average heights of 3 to 25 feet.

Why we love it: You can enjoy this edible fruit, too. It tastes like a nutty blueberry.

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Hawthorn

Hawthorn

Crataegus, Zones 3 to 8

Include these small-scale plants in mixed borders, mulched beds or near other plantings where their beauty can shine but you’re protected from the thorns. Or select one of the thornless varieties for use near pathways and children’s play areas. Hawthorn’s white flowers are pretty to look at (but not to smell), and its drought tolerance makes it a good addition to water-wise gardens.

Why we love it: The fruit-laden horizontal branches are breathtaking in winter.

Crabapple

Crabapple

Malus, Zones 3 to 9

Everyone loves crabapple’s lightly fragrant white, pink to rosy-red spring flowers, but consider the colorful fruit, too, when choosing one. Look for fire blight- and scab-resistant varieties to increase the beauty and reduce maintenance.

Why we love it: There are so many choices! Upright, weeping and spreading forms are available with yellow, orange or red fruit.

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Madrone

Madrone

Arbutus menziesii, Zones 7 to 11

You may know this broadleaf evergreen for its elegant form and reddish-brown bark, but the waxwings know madrone for the reddish berries. The dark green leaves make a striking backdrop to the white flowers. Plant it in a mixed border or mulch bed to minimize leaf and blossom cleanup. It prefers warm, dry locations.

Why we love it: Madrone’s berry clusters may include red, orange and yellow fruit at the same time.

Mountain ash

Mountain ash

Sorbus, Zones 2 to 6

The North American native and European mountain ashes are small-scale trees that work well in mixed borders and less-than-spacious landscapes. Mulch the soil to keep the roots cool and moist. Proper care is critical to keeping this tree free of pests and looking its best.

Why we love it: Your extra effort in caring for this plant will pay off when the flock of waxwings feasts on the fruit in fall or early winter.

Proven Winners
Elderberry

Elderberry

Sambucus, Zones 3 to 9

The fragrant white flowers add a bit of aromatherapy to the garden, while the fruit attracts the birds. Include elderberries in your shrub plantings and perennial gardens, or use this suckering plant to help stabilize slopes and riverbanks. Regular pruning will keep it looking its best.

Why we love it: If you have any berries left after the birds get their fill, you can use them to make your own jam, jelly or wine.

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Raspberry

Raspberry

Rubus, Zones 2 to 11

Yes, raspberries are delicious, but share some with the waxwings! These vigorous plants make a great hedge, screen or barrier plant in the garden. Proper pruning will increase productivity and reduce pest problems.

Why we love it: Summer- and fall-bearing varieties guarantee that you and the birds will have plenty of fruit to enjoy.

Melinda Myers
Nationally known gardening expert, TV/radio host, author, columnist and speaker.