Looking to liven up your yard this spring? Consider developing more plants. Gardening with native plants has many advantages: They're beautiful, they are already adapted to your precipitation and soil conditions, and they do not need artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Of course the benefit might be that plants are great for other wildlife and birds.
Native plants provide nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. They supply nourishing irresistible fruits for your neighbors and seeds, and they provide places to nest and shield . They're also a critical part of the food chain--indigenous insects evolved to feed on native plants, and by and large, backyard birds raise their young on insects, explains Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home. Take the Carolina Chickadee: A single clutch of four to six chicks will gobble up more than 9,000 caterpillars in the 16 days between when they hatch and when they leave the nest. So birds that are flourishing are meant by insects that are flourishing.
The important thing is to pick the ideal plants for your region. Bear in mind, there are hundreds and hundreds of native plants out there although here are 10 great plants to get you thinking about the possibilities. Hunt Audubon's native plants database to make a list of plants native to your area and get connected to local native plant sources. You will also find even more resources listed further down the page.
Coneflowers are a garden staple that is tried-and-true, and wildlife are attracted to them, too.
Birds that adore them: These beautiful blooms attract butterflies and other pollinators during the summer and supply seeds for goldfinches and other birds in the autumn.
Where they're native: a number of these species, such as Echinacea purpureaand Echinacea pallida, are great native plants to grow in the plains states. Coneflowers grow areas, so check for the species indigenous to your region. Just last week I saw a few through my little doorbell camera.
Sunflowers may signify loyalty and longevity but they imply food for many birds.
Birds that adore them: Birds frequently use the sunflower seeds to fuel their long migrations.
Where they're native: Helianthus ciliaris in the Southwest and central United States and Helianthus angustifolius in the eastern United States produce seeds in bulk.
Milkweed (Asclepias spp. )
Milkweed is famous for hosting monarch butterfly caterpillars, but they attract loads of insects which are great for birds, too. Bonus: the flowers are magnificent.
Birds that love them: Some birds, such as the American Goldfinch, use the fiber from the milkweed to spin nests for its chicks. Goldfinches, and birds use the seed to line their nests' downy part.
Where they're native: It is likely one or more species of milkweed is native to your area--try butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in hot dry areas, while swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is great in moist areas or gardens.
The flower's bright petals resemble the robes.
Birds that adore them: While few insects can navigate the long tubular flowers, hummingbirds feast on the cardinal flower's nectar with their elongated beaks.
Where they're native: This moisture-loving plant is native across large portions of the country, including the East, Midwest, and Southwest.
Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
One of the top most well-behaved vines to plant in your garden, the multitudes of red flowers are magnets for hummingbirds.
Birds that love them: This vine's nectar attracts hummingbirds while many birds such as Purple Finches and Hermit Thrushes eat their fruit. By eating the flowers, during migration, Baltimore Orioles get into the nectar.
Where they are indigenous: Trumpet honeysuckle grows natively in the northeast, southeast, and midwest parts of america. The sweetly scented Japanese honeysuckle is an exotic invasive--but if you swap it with trumpet honeysuckle, you are going to attract plenty of birds.
Its leaves are harmless to your skin, although the Virginia creeper, also called woodvine, may be best known for its similarity to poison ivy. Many birds rely upon its own fruit during the winter while it may be intentionally avoided by individuals.
Birds that love them: it is a key food source for fruit-eating birds, such as mockingbirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers and blue jays.
Where they are indigenous: Parthenocissus vitacea, a related species called thicket creeper, is native to the American West while Parthenocissus quinqefolia can be seen in the Great Plains and eastern United States.
Fruit and blossoms make buttonbush a choice that is popular and along pond shores.
Birds that love them: In addition to beautifying a pond, they also offer seeds for ducks and other waterfowl. Their magnificent flowers also attract butterflies--and pollinators.
Where they're indigenous: The buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, is native to the wetlands of California and the eastern half of america.
Elderberry (Sambucus spp.
Elderberry is a plant that has been used to make dye and medicine as well as being a shrub for its landscape.
Birds that adore them: Its bright dark blue fruits (which we use for jam) provide food for many birds within its range, for instance, Brown Thrasher and Red-eyed Vireo, and dozens of other birds.
Where they are native: Sambucus canadensis is native to most of the eastern United States, while red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is located in most states except for those south of Nebraska and those across the Gulf of Mexico.
Oak (Quercus spp. )
From southern oaks into California black oaks, these beautiful trees that are large are a favorite for many people across the nation --not to mention the summer shade they supply. These trees are also an integral part of the food chain, so planting just one really helps your lawn's diversity.
Birds that adore them: Similarly, many species of birds use the cavities and crooks of those trees for nesting and shelter. Birds can also be drawn to the abundance of insects and acorns which are found on oaks--to learn more, check out Doug Tallamy's work.
Where they are native: If you wish to plant an oak, make sure you plant one indigenous to your area, such as the shumard oak in the Southeast or the Oregon white oak from the Pacific Northwest.
Dogwoods (Cornus spp. )
Nothing says spring like a dogwood full of newly-bloomed flowers.
Birds that love them: Cardinals, titmice, and bluebirds all dine on the fleshy fruit of dogwood trees.
Where they're native: If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you can grow native Cornus nuttallii and for those in the eastern United States, select either the Cornus alternifolia or the Cornus florida.
You are creating a sanctuary that benefits wildlife by incorporating native plants into your landscape.
The 10 plants are a starting point--they're easy to grow, they are amazing for birds, and many can be found in nurseries. To find species that are native to right where you live, hunt Audubon's native plants database. You can create a list of plants indigenous to your area and get connected to local plant resources.