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Gardening For Bluebirds

Gardening For Bluebirds

Gardening for Bluebirds

Bluebirds are welcome guests in the garden. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also beneficial and crucial to sustaining a healthy garden and local environment. They do this by eating and reducing insect populations naturally, as well as spreading native plant species through dropping pits and seeds from the fruits they eat.


There was a time when bluebirds were scarce due to development removing nesting sites and stripping of their natural habitat. But, thanks to good awareness campaigns, bluebirds made a comeback as people began to construct and install bluebird houses throughout the US. You may see them occasionally on the edges of farm fields and nature areas, on a pole in the open overlooking a field or pond.  Doing this has brought back bluebird populations in astounding numbers.


Gardeners who don’t have appropriate areas to build bluebird houses can do just as much to help increase and sustain bluebirds. Gardening for bluebirds is a wonderful way to give them the food and cover they need just as badly as places to nest. And, plants that are appropriate for bluebird sustainability are wonderful in the garden! Sticking to native plants and cultivars that are landscape-ready is an excellent way to keep bluebirds fed and covered in shelters, and makes for a beautiful garden, too.


There are lots of choices in plants that make for great bluebird forage and cover. One of the best examples includes the dogwood family, most notably the white flowering dogwoods. These wonderful native trees are beautiful all season long in the landscape and they offer plenty of food for bluebirds. Dogwood berries are a particular favorite of bluebirds too, so expect to see a bluebird or two when the berries are ripe on dogwood. Plant white flowering dogwood in a sunny or partially sunny spot. They are long lived and very hardy plus easy to care for.


Another great addition to the bluebird-friendly garden- viburnum! There are many cultivars of this native shrub, and they make excellent landscape candidates. Like dogwood, viburnum offers berries for forage, and they offer great compact cover. Old fashioned snowball viburnum is a standard for landscapes and is a hardy, easy to care for shrub. Consider other cultivars too, such as Judd for pink flowers that are scented and delightful. Use viburnum as a natural transition from wild areas into the landscape, or as cultured and trimmed foundation plantings. There’s really no way to go wrong with viburnum.


And finally, holly is an absolutely wonderful plant for bluebirds in the landscape. Holly holds its berries into the winter, making them very valuable to bluebirds as a food source during lean times. It’s also a very valuable landscape plant as it stays evergreen throughout the year, which is also necessary as cover for bluebirds when deciduous plants have lost their foliage. Nellie R Stevens Holly makes a great choice in holly cultivars because it’s multipurpose. It’s a wonderful specimen option, as well as a great hedge option. It grows fast, yet needs minimal care once established. And most importantly, the bluebirds will love it. 


More plant ideas to attract bluebirds: beautyberry, serviceberry, nandina, winterberry, flowering quince, and caragana.


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