Having wild birds in your backyard garden is so magical that it makes you feel creative, satisfied, fulfilled and peaceful as a birder. Even with that in mind, sometimes it is not easy to choose a garden plant that is good and healthy enough to grow to beautiful flowers, herbs or shrubs to attract garden and wild birds such as sunbirds, mouse birds, Bee-eaters, Eastern grey-plantain eater among others. Bird twitcher and a gardener both starters and experts need to know how to select the best plants for their garden. Here are the few guidelines to getting the best plants for your backyard to attract those birds.
- Take into account the climate of your region because plants differ in tolerant to cold, heat and moisture and also the endemic to migratory bird species frequenting your backyard.
- Know the types of wild birds in your locality and the kind of flowers they are attracted too.
- Choose the best nectar producing flowers for garden birds
- Take clearly labeled plants so that you know exactly what you are buying and if it is what you want.
- Pick those plants that are sturdy with a full rounded, healthy look. Remember, a healthy plant doesn’t look dry and shriveled.
- Spurn any plant that’s yellow, wilting, spindly, struggling. Have damaged leaves, look gnawed around the edges, have greenfly or anything else on them.
- Shake the plant out of the plastic container that is concealing the root and take a good look at it. Choose a plant that has several small roots rather than one with one or two larger roots.
- Check containerized plants before paying for them. You do not want to buy plants with spiraled root system because it won’t grow well.
- If you are out to buy shrubs, try to get a decent shape and not thin or straggly. Some sellers will convince you to buy it so that you prune it yourself but remember getting it to good shape will take a long time and it will be easier for you to learn how to prune if you know what the thing ought to look like before you begin.
- In case you are buying trees, don’t buy tall ones because the roots will be left behind when they are moved so buy small young trees. Preferably pick a tree that is in the second year from seed.
- If you are buying bulbs, examine them for pests, fungus and rot but remembers some birds feed on these insect, the more it attracts insect the better for small garden birds
- If you are buying seeds, buy fresh ones not stale and check the date. Those that don’t have dates on the packet, buy only from reliable sources and keep them sealed till you are ready to plant them. Those that you are ordering by posts, always make sure you are buying them from reputable, well established sources.
- Never buy anonymous plants without a grower’s label from greengrocers or supermarkets because you can never be sure of quality.
- Never impulse buy in a nursery, make a list of what you want and confirm their availability. This prevents you from impulse buying and the seller convincing you to get alternative for what they do not claiming it’s equally good.
- Wild bird likes strong and attractive color; yellow and red sometimes is the best attractor of the backyard garden birds.
- Plants and shrub that grow tall and bushy will attract bird of prey, that will be predating on the small garden birds hence avoid plants that tend to grow tall.
Finally, check out the plants will like your soil, produce good scent and attract so many garden and wild birds. Then check if they mind any local problems you may have e.g. shade, pollution from motorways and factory fumes. And then find out how much space that the plants will eventually need.