For any backyard bird lover or gardener, you may have found yourself wondering – what happens when those tiny bird seeds I fill my feeders with start sprouting? Bird seed can grow into grassy plants and small seedlings when spread on the ground.
If you want to turn your stray bird seeds into an intentional planting, understanding which varieties grow and how to care for them can lead to a beautiful bird-friendly garden.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most bird seeds like millet, sunflower, safflower and thistle will sprout into grassy plants or small flowers when planted. They need light soil, sun and regular watering.
Common Bird Seed Varieties That Grow
Millet is a common type of bird seed that can grow into beautiful plants. When it comes to bird seed, millet is one of the most popular options. It is small and round with a golden color. Millet seeds are rich in carbohydrates, making them a great source of energy for birds.
When you plant millet seeds, you can expect to see tall grass-like plants with clusters of small, round seeds. These plants are not only attractive to birds but also add a touch of beauty to your garden.
Sunflower seeds are another common type of bird seed that can grow into impressive plants. They are typically large and flat with a black and white striped shell. Sunflower seeds are packed with essential nutrients and healthy fats, making them a favorite among many bird species.
If you decide to plant sunflower seeds, you will witness the growth of tall, sturdy plants with vibrant yellow flowers. These flowers will eventually transform into large, round seed heads, which birds will eagerly feast on.
Safflower seeds are often used as bird feed and can also be grown into beautiful plants. These seeds are small and white, resembling tiny grains of rice. Safflower seeds are known for their high nutritional value and are preferred by certain bird species, such as cardinals and chickadees.
When you sow safflower seeds, you can expect to see bushy plants with bright yellow or orange flowers. These flowers will eventually produce small, hard-shelled seeds that birds will happily munch on.
Nyjer, also known as thistle seed, is a popular bird seed variety that can grow into delicate plants. These tiny, black seeds are a favorite among finches and other small songbirds. When you plant nyjer seeds, you can anticipate the growth of slender, feathery plants with small, purple flowers.
These plants will eventually produce clusters of small, oily seeds that birds will flock to. Nyjer seeds are a great choice for attracting colorful finches to your garden.
How to Plant and Grow Bird Seed
Choosing a Site
When it comes to choosing a site for planting bird seed, there are a few factors to consider. First, you’ll want to select an area that receives plenty of sunlight, as most bird seed varieties thrive in sunny conditions.
Additionally, consider the accessibility of the site – it should be easily reachable for watering and maintenance purposes. Lastly, it’s important to choose a location that is safe from potential threats, such as predators or strong winds.
Preparing the Soil
Before sowing bird seed, it’s crucial to prepare the soil properly. Start by removing any weeds or grass from the designated area, as these can compete with the bird seed for nutrients and water. Once the area is clear, loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller to create a loose and well-drained bed for the seeds.
Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can also improve the soil’s fertility and provide essential nutrients for the growing bird seed.
Sowing the Seeds
Now that the site and soil are ready, it’s time to sow the bird seed. You can either scatter the seeds by hand or use a seed spreader for more even distribution. Be sure to follow the recommended planting depth and spacing guidelines provided on the seed packet.
After sowing, gently rake the soil to cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or compost. Water the area thoroughly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Within a few weeks, you should start to see the bird seed sprouting and growing.
Caring for Seedlings
Once the bird seedlings emerge, it’s important to provide them with proper care to ensure their healthy growth. Regularly water the seedlings, aiming to keep the soil evenly moist. Mulching around the seedlings can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
Additionally, consider applying a balanced fertilizer to provide the necessary nutrients for the growing plants. Keep an eye out for pests or diseases and take appropriate measures to address any issues that may arise.
Using Bird-Friendly Plants in Your Garden
Creating a bird-friendly garden is not only a delightful way to connect with nature, but it also helps support the local bird population. By incorporating bird-friendly plants into your garden, you can provide a habitat that attracts and sustains various bird species.
Here are some tips to help you create a bird haven in your own backyard.
One of the first steps in attracting birds to your garden is to provide a variety of food sources. Incorporating plants that produce berries, seeds, or nectar can be highly beneficial. Some popular choices include sunflowers, coneflowers, and honeysuckle.
These plants not only provide a source of food but also offer shelter and nesting opportunities.
Additionally, consider including plants that provide vertical structure, such as trees or tall shrubs. These structures provide perching spots for birds and create a safe haven from potential predators.
Adding a birdbath or a shallow water feature can also be a great way to attract birds, as they require fresh water for drinking and bathing.
Companion planting is an effective way to create a balanced ecosystem in your garden. By intermingling different types of plants, you can attract beneficial insects, which in turn attract birds. For example, planting marigolds alongside your vegetables can deter pests and attract insect-eating birds like sparrows or warblers.
Another great companion plant is lavender, which not only adds a pleasant fragrance to your garden but also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. By carefully selecting a variety of plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, you can ensure a continuous food supply for birds in your garden.
Blooms and Greenery
When choosing plants for your bird-friendly garden, opt for those with vibrant blooms and dense foliage. Flowers like zinnias, salvias, and butterfly bushes are not only visually appealing but also provide a valuable nectar source for hummingbirds and bees.
Incorporating native plants into your garden is also essential as they are adapted to the local environment and provide a natural food source for native bird species. Native grasses, shrubs, and trees promote biodiversity and create a more sustainable ecosystem.
Remember to provide a variety of plant heights and textures to accommodate different bird species’ needs. Some birds prefer to forage in low-growing plants, while others seek out taller trees for nesting and protection.
If you’ve been curious about those sprouting bird seeds, you now know which varieties will grow and how to intentionally plant them. Bird-friendly flowers and grasses can add beauty to your garden and help attract even more feathered visitors.
Next time you fill up your bird feeders, sprinkle some extra seeds in a sunny patch and enjoy watching nature take its course!