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15 Plants That Attract Birds (Flowers, Bushes & Trees)

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european goldfinch surrounded with marigold

You can easily attract birds to your garden by planting the right flowers, bushes, and trees. Especially during the fall and wintertime, having the right plants in your area will help to attract birds to your home, even during months that are seldom filled with birds. 

Just as planting the right plants will attract birds during the wintertime, you will attract even more birds during the spring and summer. In other words, you can’t go wrong with selecting plants that are perfectly selected for bird watching.

In this article, we are going to learn the 15 best plans to attract birds. This plant list includes 7 flowers, 4 bushes, and 4 trees. We also talk a bit about each plant so that you can decide which one you want to plant in your yard. Scroll down for more.

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Flowers to Attract Birds

1.  Cornflower

Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring and summer
Birds to Attract: Bluebirds, goldfinches, songbirds, waxwings

Cornflowers are gorgeous annual flowers with bright blue petals and dark green foliage. From May until July, these plants pop up to grow 90 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters wide. To ensure that these flowers are ready by spring, sow them between the months of March and May.

These flowers are great at attracting birds during the warmer months because they provide seeds, pollen, sap, and foliage for birds to eat and hide in. In addition to attracting birds, cornflowers also attract bees and other pollinators, which in turn attracts more birds.

One benefit of cornflowers is that they are pretty hardy and grow in many soil types. Whether you have well drained, moist, or sandy soil, cornflowers will likely take root and add a lot of color and life to your yard.

2. Milkweed

Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring, summer, and fall
Birds to Attract: Hummingbirds

If you love watching butterflies and hummingbirds, milkweed is one of the best flowers you can plant. These flowers will bloom between late spring and early fall for a long blooming period. When in bloom, these flowers have gorgeous orange blossoms that are full of nectar.

Because of how much nectar is found in milkweed, this plant is best for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insectivorous birds. Milkweed is especially associated with ruby-throated hummingbirds and monarch butterflies.

3. Daisy

Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Summer and fall
Birds to Attract: Finches, cardinals, sparrows

If you want to plant a simple yet classic flower that attracts birds, look no further than the daisy. Meadow daisies are especially great because they are hardy and grow throughout the year. All the while, they attract birds because they produce seeds.

Even though daisies are not particularly associated with butterflies or other nectar hungry creatures, you can add a daisy to just about any garden. Because of their cheerful appearance, they can fit into any yard or garden, regardless of what kind of animal you are trying to attract.

4. Sunflower

Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring and summer
Birds to Attract: Migratory birds, insectivorous birds

It’s no secret that birds love seeds, and one of the most common seeds used in bird feed is sunflower seeds. There’s an obvious reason that sunflower seeds are used this frequently in bird mixes: birds love the seeds.

For birds that prefer seeds over insects, sunflowers make a perfect plant to add to your garden. Not to mention, they are absolutely gorgeous and add a lot of life and color to any area. At the same time, sunflowers attract insectivores. Because sunflowers are so large, they attract many insects and pollinators looking for nectar and seeds.

In other words, sunflowers can attract a wide range of birds, making them a great option if you are looking for a flower to kick your bird watching up a serious notch.

5. Coneflower

coneflowers up close
Image By: Pixabay
Season: All year
Birds to Attract: Seed-eating birds

Much like sunflowers, coneflowers produce ginormous seeds that attract a lot of birds. Even through the winter, you can expect coneflowers to continue producing seeds to provide yearlong nutrition for your favorite birds. Plant a coneflower if you want to attract seed-eating birds year around.

The main catch to coneflowers is that they require alkaline soil. With alkaline soil, you won’t have to do much primping or pruning to the coneflower for them to grow and attract numerous birds and even butterflies.

6. Cardinal Flower

cardinal flower up close
Image By: Pixabay
Season: Spring, summer, and fall
Birds to Attract: Songbirds, hummingbirds

One of the boldest flowers to look at is the cardinal flower. As you would expect from its name, this flower is bright red and can even grow to be 6 feet tall. Each red flower can even grow to be nearly eight inches in length.

Cardinal flowers are great for attracting songbirds and hummingbirds because the flowers have a Bellflower design. The shape is perfect for hummingbirds to hunt for nectar inside the foliage. At the same time, the large plant provides protection for other birds to create nests.

One downside to cardinal flowers is that they are very delicate since they are technically an herb. They cannot be in direct sunlight, and they require an experienced gardener. If you have never planted flowers before, don’t start out with the cardinal flower.

7. Marigold

marigold flowers
Image By: Pixabay
Season: Winter, spring, and summer
Birds to Attract: Sparrows, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, insectivorous birds

Finally, the last flower on this list is the marigold. The marigold has a beautiful golden yellow and orange color. These pungent flowers attract many birds because of the odor and big seeds they produce. You can also expect marigolds to attract insects, bees, and insectivorous birds.

Even though the plants themselves are easy to grow, you have to be careful if you have a lot of crows and grackles in your area. These birds are known to tear apart marigolds because the petals are so easily torn. With proper care, marigolds can be wonderful additions to your garden.

Bushes to Attract Birds

1. Elderberry

elderberry bush
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring
Birds to Attract: Many – Woodpeckers, orioles, warblers, robins, finches, etc.

If you want to attract a variety of birds, you need an elderberry shrub. These shrubs are known for attracting just about any type of bird you can think of, making it the number one bush to add to any bird watcher’s yard.

The reason why elderberries are such a great choice for birdwatchers is that the plant provides both food and protection for birds. After the shrub has grown for a couple of months, it will begin producing berries that animals and birds can eat. At the same time, the shrub is large enough that birds can even build their nest inside it.

 In addition to attracting birds, elderberries will attract insects as well. With more insects, you can expect more birds to come since they have even more food sources to choose between.

2.  Holly

robin in holly bush
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring, summer, fall, and early winter
Birds to Attract: Thrushes, blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares

One downside of many plants is that they only grow during the warmer months. If you want to add more birds to your garden when it gets cold, you will need something like holly that can grow even into the winter. If both male and female plants are around, holly plants can become ripe in autumn and last well into winter.

Because holly ripens so late, many summer birds already migrate elsewhere for food. Meanwhile, songbirds and blackbirds wait around until late winter to start eating the holly berries. Needless to say, holly is one of the best plants you can sow if you need to attract birds in the winter.

3. Cotoneaster

cotoneaster shrub
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Fall and winter
Birds to Attract: Robins, thrushes, finches, blackbirds

To the untrained eye, the cotoneaster looks much like holly in that it has bright red berries speckled along green shrubbery. Birds absolutely love this berry and will often eat it before holly since it has a tastier flavor. You could use cotoneaster to attract many types of birds because of its tasty flavor.

Cotoneasters are a bit more difficult to take care of than holly, but they aren’t terrible. If you have damp and even alkaline soil, the shrub should grow and bear fruits pretty easily.

4. Virginia Creeper

virginia creeper
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Fall and winter
Birds to Attract: Many – Robins, thrushes, cardinals, starlings, turkey, etc.

Virginia creeper is a deciduous vine that can grow to be 50 feet long. This vine will fasten on many surfaces, including bark and rock. Many birds like Virginia creeper because insects can hide out, as well as the birds themselves.

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Trees To Attract Birds

1. Dogwood

dogwood flower up close
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Spring, summer, and fall
Birds to Attract: Robins, hummingbirds, insectivorous birds

Dogwood is more like a shrub than a tree, but it eventually grows large enough that it looks like a small tree. Because of their size, dogwoods can attract many birds and plants by providing a lot of food and area for shelter. Dogwoods must grow to be 15 and 40 feet before they will start flowering.

Once the dogwood starts flowering its gorgeous white buds, insectivorous birds and hummingbirds will fly from left and right. Robins and hummingbirds are the two birds that you can expect the most with a dogwood.

2. Oak

an oak tree during fall
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: All
Birds to Attract: Many – orioles, woodpeckers, thrashers, warblers, insectivorous birds, etc.

Oak is considered one of the most important trees in all the United States. Not only has oak been used for numerous architectural jobs since the founding of the country, but oak also provides great habitat for several animals, including many species of birds.

Because oak grows to be so large, they provide a lot of shelter for a lot of birds and other wildlife. In fact, one oak tree can be home to more than 500 types of caterpillars. Because of how many insects call oak trees home, it’s no shock that many insectivorous birds follow suit.

Oak also produces acorns, which is a crucial food source for many birds, such as blue jays and woodpeckers. If you want a tree to attract all kinds of birds and wildlife, the oak is the best choice for you.

3. Mulberries

silvereye bird in mulberry tree
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Summer
Birds to Attract: Robins, cardinals, waxwings, songbirds

Mulberries aren’t quite as large as oak, but they still can attract tons of birds. Mulberries are known for their fruit that is popular among birds and humans alike. These trees also attract silkworms, which can be a tasty treat to certain birds.

Not to mention, mulberries are very hardy. They resist drought well and don’t need great soil conditions. The only drawback is that the fruit will fall from the tree and stain anything it touches.

4. Crabapples

crabapple tree up close
Image Credit: Pixabay
Season: Fall and winter
Birds to Attract: Many – Cardinals, catbirds, robins, finches, etc.

Crabapples are the perfect tree to get if you don’t have a lot of space but still want to attract many bird types. Because of the crabapples that grow on these trees, many types of birds come to this plant, including insectivores and seed eaters.

Not to mention, humans can eat crabapples too. Even though crabapples aren’t as tasty as other apple types, it can be a fun way to introduce your own fruit harvest into your diet.

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Final Thoughts

This season, attract as many birds as possible by planting one or more of the 15 plants above. Any one of these flowers, bushes, or trees can attract many bird types and insects.

Before planting anything, make sure that the plant is ideal for your geographic location and growing space. That way, you can attract birds without wasting your time or money.

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Featured Image Credit: BILL STEFANIS, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.