Free Bird Seed

Grow your own plants to feed the birds over winter

How to grow your own bird seed

Garden smart and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. You can cut down on bird feeding costs by planting perennials and annuals that can help feed the birds during the winter months. Not only will your garden be beautiful, but it will serve double duty as a bird buffet once the blooms have faded.

To garden for the birds, a full sun location is best since most of the seed producing plants prefer six or more hours of sun a day.

As with any garden, I like to mix annuals with perennials so that you have something blooming at all times. Choose early, mid and late blooming perennials for maximum blooms and seed production.

If you've been gardening for a while, you know that you need to deadhead your spent blooms so that you your plants continue to bloom. If you constantly deadhead, you won't have any seeds for the birds. But you can have both. I deadhead my plants most of the growing season and a few weeks before they are due to stop blooming, I stop dead-heading and allow the spent blooms to go to seed.

Following is a list of annuals that produce seeds ideal for birds to eat:

  • How to grow your own bird seedSunflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Amaranthus
  • Poppies
  • Cosmos
  • Cleome
  • Marigolds
  • Bachelor Buttons

Following is a list of perennials that produce seeds ideal for birds to eat:

  • How to grow your own bird seedBlack-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Coreopsis
  • Bee Balm (Monarda)
  • Tall Garden Phlox
  • Coneflowers (Echinacea)
  • Goldenrod

If you are feeling adventurous, you don't need to stop at annuals and perennials. There are shrubs, trees, and grasses that produce seeds or fruits that the birds love also. Here's a list of a few of my favorites:

  • How to grow your own bird seedBeauty Berry Bush
  • Millet
  • Serviceberry
  • Dogwood
  • Chokeberry
  • Holly
  • Miscanthus Grass
  • Rugosa Roses
  • Elderberry
  • Cotoneaster
  • Fescue Grass
  • Flowering Quince

Once the seeds are gone, birds will still be fluttering around the dried stems looking for bugs and taking shelter from harsh winter winds. In late winter or early spring, you can cut the stems down easily while tidying up the garden.

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Perennials for Clay Soil

Check out this list of perennials that can grow well in clay soil.

Hardy Annuals

There are many annuals that can survive a frost or two. Check out this list.

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