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

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Monday - March 25, 2013

From: TOTOWA, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Shade-loving plants for birds in New Jersey
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What native plants should I add to my property, Zone 6, to feed birds naturally? I have a heavily treed lot, so I'd like names of shade loving perennials. Seed or fruit bearing options would be great. I've discovered Gaultheria, and my garden center could get it for me. Please answer as quickly as possible, so that I can get them in at the end of April or early May. My Town is up in arms over birders.

ANSWER:

Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern teaberry) is certainly an excellent choice for a low-growing evergreen plant with berries attractive to birds and is native to New Jersey.

Below is a list of other plants native to your area that have fruits or flowers that are attractive to birds and will grow in part shade or shade.  They range in size from heights of 2 inches up to 30 or so feet.

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry) grows to 20 feet in sun, part shade or shade.

Eutrochium purpureum (Purple joepyeweed) grows to 6 feet in sun, part shade or shade.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) grows to 6 feet in sun, part shade or shade and is especially attractive to hummingbirds.

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (Feathery false lily of the valley) grows to 3 feet in part shade and shade.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry) grows to only 2 inches high in part shade and shade.

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) grows to 30 feet in sun, part shade or shade.

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry) grows to 2 feet high in sun, part shade or shade.

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry) grows in partial shade to 12 feet.

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (Red elderberry) grows in shade to 20 feet.

You can also go to the New Jersey Recommended page to find a list of commercially available plants native to your area.  If you use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option on that page, you can limit the list to plants that will grow in the shade and then scan through the list for those plants with fruits that are used by birds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Canadian serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis

Purple joepyeweed
Eutrochium purpureum

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Feathery false lily of the valley
Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Late lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium

Eve's necklace
Styphnolobium affine

Red elderberry
Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa

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