Top 5 Plants To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden

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We all love to see winged visitors in our garden. Their joyful song and cheerful character make our gardens a more relaxing place. Many of us put out bird seed and bird boxes, but we can also choose plants that act as a natural source of food. The best plants or flowers will feature edible fruit or seeds and nest-building materials to attract birds.

Plants that attract wild birds to your garden

You don’t need acres of land to attract birds to your garden. You can help nature in any size of outdoor space by growing a few plants in pots on a balcony.

With bird population numbers declining all over the world due to environmental stress, there’s no better time to start thinking of our singing garden friends. Winter is the perfect time of year to start planning your Spring garden.

In 2024, why not specifically choose some bird-loving plants to help increase your garden’s population? We’ve put together a list of the best plants to attract wild birds to your garden.

How To Choose Plants To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden

When reading our list, keep in mind your own outdoor space and conditions. Look around and notice how much of your garden is in full sun or shade.

Think about the size of your outdoor space, if you have acres of land you can easily plant flower beds and fast-spreading shrubs. But, if your space is a balcony or patio, take note of the pot-loving and compact plants.

Lastly, do some research on the local birds in your area and choose native plants. The bird-attracting plants featured on this list can be grown in most areas of the world, but native plants will attract the most winged friends to your garden – even in the bleak of winter.

Our Nest Box Live will help you discover the local birds in your area so you can tailor your plants even more!

What Features Attract Birds To Plants?

  • Nesting and Habitats – birds need somewhere to shelter all year round. If you have the space, pick at least one bushy plant that will protect birds from the elements. Birds also use plants to hide from predators.
  • Attract Insects – plants that encourage insects such as ants, spiders, beetles and caterpillars will, in turn, encourage birds.
  • Seeds and Fruit – plants that provide a natural food source will attract birds to your garden. High-energy foods such as sunflower hearts will help birds in the winter.

What Plants Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden?

Sunflowers

These sun-loving flowers are available in lots of different varieties so they can be grown in small pots or large fields! Not only do they attract birds, but they also look stunning in your garden.

Sunflower Bunch

Sunflowers are easy to grow and make the ideal project plant for teaching kids about garden. Be wary of slugs and protect the seedlings from a young age with copper tape or wool pellets. 

As the name suggests, Sunflowers prefer full sun. But, the tall-growing varieties such as ‘Russian Giant’ and ‘Titan’ will tower above all other plants and reach the sun even if they’re shaded initially by other plants. Some great varieties for smaller spaces are ‘Teddy’ and ‘Dwarf Yellow Spray’.

Sunflowers will bring birds into your garden by attracting insects which are a diet staple for birds such as Bluebirds, Swallows, Robins and Sparrows. After your sunflowers have finished flowering, cut off the heads and place them around your garden for the birds to peck out the seeds.

Why not Grow Your Own Sunflowers with this sustainable kit?

Coneflower/ Echinacea

This punchy-coloured perennial will welcome birds into your garden year after year. They’re easy to grow from seed or readily available as plants from the garden centre. Coneflowers are a late-flowering plant so they provide shelter and insects for birds when most other plants are past their best.

Coneflowers grow best in an area of full sun and well-draining soil. They have no problem being grown in pots or containers for a balcony or patio display.

Their seeds attract finches and their long stems and big flower heads provide shelter for birds searching for insects in the soil below.

Roses

A cottage garden favourite for its beauty and longevity, roses are also a favourite amongst birds. After a Rose has flowered, think again before deadheading. If left alone, a ‘Rosehip’ forms which are seed-filled bulbs.

Rosehips are a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants for overwintering birds. Thrushes, Blackbirds, Redwing, Fieldfare and Waxwings will devour these buds in the Winter.

Many roses can thrive in a partial shade garden. There are thousands of variants available, some tailored to pots and others thriving in raised beds.

Not only are they a great food source, Rosehips add a bust of colour to an otherwise dull Winter garden.

Crab Apple

The Crab Apple tree is a stunning classic in British gardens. Providing fruit to make jelly and jam for us, and providing shelter and food for birds.

Crab Apples are hardy trees and are well suited to a position in full sun or partial shade. They also grow well in pots.

Their long-lasting fruit provides food for bird species such as Cardinals, Cedar Waxwings, and Robins. However, avoid the following varieties of Crab: Apple Adams, Donald Wyman, Firebird and Red Jewel.

Remember to plant two or more Apple trees so they can cross-pollinate and produce fruit.

Holly Bush

An iconic winter evergreen, the Holly bush provides tasty berries throughout the winter and makes a great decoration for Christmas wreaths!

You will often see characterful Robins perches on Holly branches in the winter. They provide tasty berries for several species and Many birds nest in holly, using its leaves for protection. It’s a favourite amongst Blackbirds, Fieldfares, Redwings and Thrushes.

You can grow holly in containers or plant in the ground. They prefer a position in full sun but can thrive in part shade.

What Else You Can Do To Attract Wild Birds To Your Garden?

Other bird-attracting plants include the Rowan Tree, Blackthorn Tree, Honeysuckle, Elderberry and Calicarpa. As well as planning your plants, you should avoid using pesticides and chemicals in your garden.

Opt for organic and wildlife-friendly sprays and try to use homemade compost where possible. You may not think you’re directly harming birds, however, the insects killed by the chemicals are then eaten by birds.

Also, check your garden bird baths daily in the winter. Birds need fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. Providing a water source increases your chance of seeing birds in your garden.

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