A cedar waxwing feasts on holly berries. 

Something “berry” interesting is happening in the fall garden.

Shrubs that spent the summer clad in green are beginning to show off jewel-toned berries. It’s a visual treat for gardeners, but an important food source for foraging birds. Blue jays, cedar waxwings, chickadees, cardinals and other birds and critters will be feasting at your berry buffet. Sugars and fats in the berries provide fuel for survival during the winter.

Monrovia offers a list of berry-worthy shrubs to plant for winter birdfeeding. The plant experts recommend choosing plants native to the region where you live. Birds recognize the plants and spend less energy foraging.

Other suggestions include planting berry-producing shrubs and vines that fruit in late summer, fall and early winter; planting conifers and evergreens for shelter; and leaving some organic material in the yard. Birds like seed pods, leaf piles and windfall fruit.

“Little Goblin” red winterberry holly, USDA Zones 3-9. This North American native dwarf produces abundant winter berries. Plant a male holly nearby.

Northern bayberry, Zones 4-6. These energy-rich berries attract robins, chickadees, cedar wax wings, gray catbirds and woodpeckers, among others, and offers dense foliage.

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Oregon grape holly, Zones 5-9. Robins, waxwings, juncos, sparrows, grouse and pheasant love the tart blue-black berries that last into spring. Flowers are brilliant yellow, and it’s best planted in pairs.

“Sparkler” arrowwood viburnum, Zones 4-9. This large, upright North American native is loaded with blue-black berries in winter that attract a variety of birds.

“Alpine” carpet juniper, Zones 3-6. Abundant berries, dense branches and foliage, as well as a compact size, makes the North American valuable in the landscape. Berries feed robins, bluebirds, thrushes, thrashers, warblers, grosbecks, jays, waxwings, sapsuckers and mockingbirds.

Brilliant red chokeberry, Zones 4-9. Fruits on this North American native are bitter, but improve after several freeze-thaw cycles for a later food source. Berries attract grouse, cedar waxwings, thrushes, northern flickers and thrashers.

“Charming Fantasy” snowberry, Zones 3-7. Bright berries blanket leafless stems in winter and are adored by pine siskins, chickadees, robins, waxwings, grobecks, towhees and thrushes.


Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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