Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Friday - April 24, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Wildlife Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Protecting plants from birds near bird feeder
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am happy to have several cardinal pairs living in my yard, but I need to discourage them from eating & destroying my purple heart planted under the huge cedar that holds my bird feeders. The cardinals bite beak-shaped chunks out of the purple leaves until nearly all of the leaves are gone. Any suggestions on how to discourage the cardinals from eating my plants?

ANSWER:

1. Move the plants or

2. Move the bird feeder

Okay, not funny. But, really, once a bird or animal has zeroed in on a plant he likes, they will continue to eat it. But, we frankly can't see what the attraction would be, maybe nesting material? A nice deep purple wall decoration in the baby bird nursery?  Tradescantia pallida cultivar "Purpurea." sometimes sold as "Purple Heart," is native to Mexico from Tamaulipas to Yucatan, and therefore not in our Native Plant Database. But from what we could find out, it doesn't look like the plant is in any danger of being wiped out by the birds; apparently, it is vigorous to the point of being extremely invasive in some cases, and just a bit of stem dropped on the ground will sprout. Even though it is non-native, if the plant will grow under Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) (lots of plants won't) and you like the area for your bird feeder, we would say let things be. If the plant starts to fade away, we would be more likely to blame the shade from the cedar than the attacks from the birds.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Leaves browning on non-native willow from in Cumbla PA
July 10, 2011 - We recently planted a willow tree. A lot of the leaves turned yellow and some turned brown, but it is also getting some new buds. my question is, should I take the dead leaves off or leave them there...
view the full question and answer

Dietes bicolor(Bicolor Iris) winter-hardiness in Austin
February 09, 2010 - I have many bi-color irises (dietes bicolor), the freeze in Austin turned them brown. Can I trim them back without harming the plants? If trimming is acceptable, can you give me tips?
view the full question and answer

What variations of non-native Lavender will grow in Montgomery County TX
June 18, 2011 - I live in East Montgomery County, Texas. What varieties of Lavender grow best in my area? I had some success with Providence variety and Spanish variety. I would like to grow more varieties if possi...
view the full question and answer

How much water does St. Augustine require in Junction, TX?
February 12, 2012 - Can you point me towards a concrete study on how much water St Augustine requires to survive? Much appreciated - Native American Seed
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of non-native Purple Orchid Tree
March 09, 2009 - We planted purple orchid tree Texas,zone 9 two weeks ago and all leaves turned brown.My husband used root stimulator with enough water as the instructions said.We took all brown leaves off and now it...
view the full question and answer

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