Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
14 ratings

Monday - March 22, 2004

From: Concord, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Bird attracting plants in Northeast U.S.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What plants will attract birds in zone 6 (Northeast) in the spring and early summer?

ANSWER:

Let's start with petal color and attracting a specific bird--the hummingbird. Pretty much anything with red flowers will attract them. A few examples are: red columbines (Aquilega canadensis), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and red trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). The honeysuckle also qualifies as an attractant for its nectar. Plants in the Aster Family have attractive flowers and will also provide seeds for birds. For example, goldfinches are very partial to thistle seeds, such as the native thistles (Cirsium sp.). Another possibility in the Aster Family are native sunflowers. Ornamental native grasses are a great source of seeds for birds as well. They don't usually ripen until late summer or early fall, however. For Zone 6, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) are all good choices. You might look at the New England Wildflower Societyweb page and check "Native Seeds--Catalog and Advice". They have native plant seeds and plants available to purchase for the New England area. Their descriptions of the plants give information about their wildlife attraction. Also, on that web page you can select "Links" and then select "Native Plant Society Database" to find a list of Native Plant Societies in the US and Canada to look for the Native Plant Society nearest you. For instance, the Connecticut Botanical Society web page has a very good section on "Gardening with Native Plants".

 

More Wildlife Gardens Questions

Native trees that host moths and butterflies for birds in Houston Texas
April 05, 2010 - I have learned that non-native or alien plants do not attract the insects that the birds need to live on. I would like to know which native trees for central Texas have the greatest hosting capacity ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for butterflies, birds and bees at 7000 feet in Arizona
April 28, 2009 - What are the best plants for feeding and sheltering bees, butterflies, and birds in/near Flagstaff AZ. We are at 7,000 feet elevation and I am finding it very difficult to create a backyard habitat.
view the full question and answer

Post-bloom period care for Pink evening primrose
June 28, 2011 - Hello, I live in Denton, TX. I introduced pink evening primrose as a ground cover to a xeriscaped section of my property a few years ago. I have pretty much left it alone and let it do its thing an...
view the full question and answer

Will hybrid Tecoma stans attract hummingbirds from Glendale AZ
July 07, 2012 - We bought a bells of fire plant; would like to know if hummingbirds like them?
view the full question and answer

Wildlife garden for PA
October 12, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty plants, I am a student at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA. I am working on my senior thesis, and I hope to submit a successful proposal to plant a native species and wildlife garden ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.