Top 5 Perennials for Birdwatchers

By Chris Edmunds

These are our top 5 perennial recommendations for the avid birdwatcher.
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Want to attract more birds to your garden but don’t know where to start? Whether you’re an amateur or avid birdwatcher, you can most certainly make your garden work to your advantage.

Read on for some of the best flowering perennials to plant which will help attract birds, other pollinators, and as an added perk, reduce the need to use harmful pesticides.

As the name suggests, this striking perennial, with its small, tubular blooms, is an excellent choice for attracting hummingbirds during the summer. The flowers bloom in various colors such as pink, red, orange, purple, and deep violet, making it an excellent choice for borders. It can grow quite tall, 2-3 feet, with a spread of about 20-30 inches. 

Hummingbird Mint, also known as Anise hyssop, produces a unique and pleasing fragrance that naturally repels deer and rodents while enticing pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Plant in full sun to partial shade and enjoy the flowers all summer and into the fall! 

The dried flower seeds provide birds with a food source during the winter, guaranteeing they will stick around your home — finches, juncos, and sparrows in particular love this long-blooming plant which is native to Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

This stunning perennial comes in an array of showy colors, such as pink, red, yellow, and orange. The coneflower's foliage is dark green and covered in small hairs, which naturally deters deer and other pests. 

Coneflowers are considered low maintenance; plant them in full sun to partial shade in well-draining soil and water sparingly. They can grow to a height of 12-48 inches with a spread of 12-36 inches. In the fall, after the blooms have withered, the dried seed heads provide food for all types of birds, such as blue jays, finches, and cardinals, so that you can enjoy visits from feathered friends even during the cooler months. When new growth starts in the spring and there is more food available for birds, the old growth can be cut back. 

This gorgeous perennial is perfect as a groundcover with its beautiful flowers and tight clusters of leaves. Bugleweed is also another excellent perennial to choose if you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden this spring. 

Bugleweed blooms in gorgeous shades of purple atop a variety of interesting foliage; some varieties have lush green leaves while others are a red hue, variegated, or a fun wrinkled texture, like Ajuga pyramidalis ‘Metallica Crispa’. Bugleweed are pretty easy going wherever they are placed in the garden — they'll thrive in part sun to shade, and some varieties also do well in full sun. They're great for rock gardens or to fill smaller, tight spaces. Bugleweed typically grows to a height of about 3-6 inches and spreads out to 12 inches or more. 

This pretty yellow perennial blooms from early summer to early fall. The black-eyed susan will attract a host of insects, which, in turn, will attract birds galore. American goldfinch, northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, and black-capped chickadee are all known to frequent this native plant species. 

These plants can grow to about 24-30 inches with a spread of 18-24 inches and can be planted in full to partial sun. Aside from birds, the black-eyed susan is also known to attract butterflies! 

5. Honeysuckle 

A vigorous vine that doubles as a bird magnet is honeysuckle. Unlike the invasive Japanese honeysuckle, our varieties are native and well-behaved. The beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and Baltimore orioles who can sometimes be spotted eating its flowers. Once the flowers are gone the vines are covered in bright red berries that are frequented by purple finches and thrushes. Plant this native vine along a fence or trellis for big impact that is attractive to avian and human visitors alike. 

kaw valley best perennials birds hummingbird honeysuckle.jpgSome perennial selections not only offer food for birds but also provide them with protection from the elements or useful nesting materials. Giving birds a source of food throughout the seasons is a great way to keep them visiting. Not only do they feed on seed heads that remain through the winter, but many also dine happily on insects.  In turn, inviting in birds decreases the number of pesky insects waiting to attack your garden. Shrubs are also essential in the birdwatcher's garden because they offer a place for birds to shelter and perch. Spring flowering choices like Lilac, Elderberry, and Forsythia also provide a boost of color! 

If birdwatching is your hobby, it's incredible to discover how merely being mindful of the types of plants you use in your gardens can drastically increase the number of feathered friends visiting your very own home. Stop by your local Kaw Valley Garden Center to stock up this spring! 



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