En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - April 15, 2009

From: Greenville, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Attracting birds in Greenville, SC
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

Hi, I live in Northeastern South Carolina near the mountains and I am making a shade garden in my back yard. I also want to attract birds to my yard. There are 100 ft tall and even some 125 ft tall white oaks, Sweetgum, Tuliptrees, and Hickories in and around my yard. I want some plants that would provide good roosting areas for birds in the shade of these trees. We have a red cedar, but no birds roost in it. We want native species ONLY in our yard! Can you suggest some trees and/or shrubs for this?

ANSWER:

Absolutely! What a wonderful canopy you must have. Mr. Smarty Plants bets you already have birds roosting in those trees. Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) should be attracting cedar waxwings and other birds that are after the berries. The birds may be so high you can't appreciate them. So, let's entice them down with some native understory trees and shrubs that produce treats birds love. Consider, too, the butterflies that may be attracted also as a bonus (and possibly bird food!) There are four things that account for the kind of trees or shrubs best for your site. First, consider the ecology of the area. Then, what is the topography? You are near mountains, suggesting you may have a sloping site. Next, what type of soil is in the area? Your local library may have a soil survey of your area, or check this USDA website to access a soil survey for Greenville County. Last, look at the native small trees and shrubs growing naturally in your general area for what will thrive on your site. Because you are investing in native trees, you will have fewer pest and disease problems and greater success with your project.

Explore the South Carolina Native Plant Society website for great information on local trees, shrubs, and the wildlife they may atract. Lists of trees, shrubs and vines in your state that are attractive to birds may also be found at the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, the Tennessee Valley Authority Technology Administration, and the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. Confirm the characteristics of your choices by following the plant links below for pages on each individual plant.

Envision your personal forest with a selection of understory trees complemented by a lower level of shrubs. The following selection of small trees, followed by a list of shorter shrubs, constitutes only a few of the possibilities. All of these trees and shrubs thrive in shady, dry sites, attract birds and other wildlife and are native to South Carolina. 

Understory trees

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny serviceberry)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Ostrya virginiana (hophornbeam)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash) - Watch out for this beauty; birds are said to get drunk on the berries, so if you see birds staggering on the ground, cage the cat.

Shrubs

Lindera benzoin (northern spicebush)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Viburnum rafinesquianum (downy arrowwood)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)


Amelanchier laevis

Ptelea trifoliata

Morus rubra

Ostrya virginiana

Cercis canadensis

Cornus alternifolia

Sorbus americana

Lindera benzoin

Physocarpus opulifolius

Rhus aromatica

Hypericum prolificum

Viburnum rafinesquianum

Callicarpa americana

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Native Bird Feeding in Belton, TX
July 04, 2011 - We recently bought a bird feeder and a huge bucket of non-native bird seed (I'm not sure if the whole seed mix is non-native, but I believe most of the mix is). The birds go through the whole bird fe...
view the full question and answer

Plants that ducks and geese will not eat
March 23, 2009 - Hello, I have a pet duck and goose. Who I love dearly and have built two ponds for.. one 4ft deep the other 6ft deep. The ponds are for their use, first and for most, but I would like to have a plan...
view the full question and answer

Butterflies and larval hosts in Dallas County
June 19, 2007 - My class is starting a butterfly habitat at school. We have researched plants that attract butterflies, however we forgot to look for plants that feed the caterpillars and we want to provide the expe...
view the full question and answer

Need plants beneficial or attractive to bees in Dripping Springs, TX
January 27, 2014 - Can you provide a specific list of plants beneficial or attractive to honey bees in the Texas Hill Country (we raise bees in Dripping Springs, TX.) Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Native plants beneficial to wildlife in Cincinnati, OH
April 25, 2008 - I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and I am looking for native plants to plant in a small area of trees behind my house. I would like the plants to be beneficial for wildlife, like maybe some wildflowers. T...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center