Top Plants for Bringing Birds to Your Garden

Bees and butterflies often get the most attention in the gardening world, but birds also play a significant role in the landscape. They add song to your yard, pollinate the flowers in your garden, and control insect populations.

So why not help these beneficial creatures and create a garden they won’t want to leave? To get started, check out this list of plants and trees guaranteed to bring birds to your yard.


Sweet Gum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)

This tree is beloved by chickadees, towhees, finches, and other small granivorous birds that love to feast on its seedy gumballs.

Sapsuckers are also attracted to this tree for its sweet sap, fruit, and insect populations. When the tree flowers in spring, hummingbirds drink its nectar.


Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)

Dense foliage makes this tree a great resting spot for birds. Its thorny branches help protect bird nests from predators.


Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Early spring flowers produce nectar that can attract hummingbirds, and the limbs make perfect nesting and perching spots.


Parsley Hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii)

This tree features fruit and flowers that attract songbirds and hummingbirds. It also has branching limbs that make it a favorite nesting and perching site.


Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)

Birds prefer the dense canopies of hollies for nesting, perching, and shelter. The berries also provide a winter food source.


Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)

Birds use this plant for shelter and nesting. The plant also provides nectar and fruit for hummingbirds and songbirds.


American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Its berries are an excellent food source for birds like quail, robins, cardinals, finches, mockingbirds, and more.


Nectar-producing Plants — Butterfly Bush (Buddleja species), Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea), Lion’s Ear (Leonotis leonurus), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and Salvia species

These nectar powerhouses attract hummingbirds in droves. Plant a group of them to keep hummers visiting your yard all season.


Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

The seeds attract blue jays, cardinals, and finches. Birds like to eat the seeds, so don’t snip the spent flowers until winter. Let the spent flowers stay through winter as a food source for hungry birds.


Milkweed (Asclepias species)

Some birds, like the American goldfinch, use the fiber from milkweed to spin nests for their chicks. Goldfinches and other birds also use the downy part of the seeds to line their nests.


Texas Honeysuckle (Lonicera albiflora) and Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Hummingbirds sip the plant’s nectar, and other birds enjoy the berries. The plant provides shelter from predators and the weather.


Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Live near a pond or water? Plant buttonbush to attract ducks and other waterfowl. The plant produces seeds these birds find irresistible.


Groundcovers: White-Veined Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata), Bolivian Sunset (Gloxinia sylvatica), Horse Herb (Calyptocarpus vialis), Woolly Stemodia (Stemodia tomentosa) and Texas Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora

Groundcovers provide shelter from the weather, hide tasty insects, and conceal birds from predators. Because of these benefits, birds tend to visit groundcovers to hunt voracious insects and slugs and snails that can damage tender garden plants.


Larval Host Plants

Many birds feed on insect larva. Plant larval host plants in your landscape to attract food for birds. The more larval host plants you provide, the more birds you can draw. Below, find a few easy-to-grow larval host plants:

  • Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) – elfin butterfly
  • Sweet Gum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) – luna moth and many butterflies
  • Sassafras Tree (Sassafras albidum) – spicebush swallowtail butterflies
  • Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano) – coyote cloudwing butterflies
  • Milkweed (Asclepias species) – monarch and queen butterflies
  • Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata) – gray hairstreak butterflies
  • Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) – black swallowtail and giant swallowtail
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – black swallowtail butterfly
  • Passionflower (Passiflora species) – gulf fritillary, zebra longwing, crimson-patch longwing, red-banded hairstreak, Julia butterfly, and Mexican butterfly
  • White-Veined Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata) – pipevine swallowtail butterfly