Photo by El Paso Community College

What is container gardening?

Container gardening is when plants are planted in containers such as pots rather than into the ground. Container gardening is a great method to use in urban areas where having an actual garden is not possible. It is space efficient and mobile so it can be arranged to fit whatever space you choose for your garden. The beauty of container gardening is that you can reuse old containers around your home for your garden, so it’s budget and environmentally friendly. Container gardening is also great because it benefits urban birds.

Resident Artist Ivan Dellinger and volunteer Michael Griner discuss the viability of the Sunshine Arts garden space as a habitat for urban birds.
photo © Sunshine Arts
Birds living in urban areas benefit greatly from plants that they can feed on, like berries, and planting some of these at your home is great to help the bird population stay strong.

What kinds of plants can you grow?

There are many types of plants that can be grown in urban areas. Some of them include various types of plant producing berries and flowers. Below you can find a list of popular berry plants,to attract and feed birds. Follow the links for instructions on how to plant them!

Berries

Blueberry
photo © Mississippi State University Extension Center
Chokecherry
photo © Terry Glase
Black Chokeberry
photo © Julie Makin
Pagoda Dogwood
photo © James Baugh
Winterberry
photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski
Arrowood Viburnum
photo © R. W. Smith

Some other types of plants that grow well in containers are flowering plants. Certain flowering plants attract birds and serve as shelter for them, they also look really pretty and will accentuate whatever area you decide to turn into your urban garden! More important, flowers provide seeds and nectar for birds as well.

Seeds

Below are some plants that grow well in containers and produce seeds that attract birds. Click on the image to learn more about the plant!

Sunflower
photo © David K. Northington
Coreopsis
photo © George H. Bruso
Little Blue Stem
photo © Carolyn Fannon
Rudbeckia
photo © Stefan Bloodworth
Cosmos
photo © Campbell & Lynn Loughmiller
Coneflower
photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski

nectar

Some plants also produce nectar, which attracts different bird species, like hummingbirds. If you’d like to know about a specific plant, click on the image.

Trumpet Vine
photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski
Columbine
photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski

What kind of containers can I use?

Any containers that can hold soil will do. Some people prefer to buy container specifically made for potting plants, but you definitely don’t have to. This link shows some budget-friendly, creative ideas for container gardening that will help your garden stand out. Reusing containers that you find around the house or around your community also helps reduce waste and helps the environment.

Landscaping for birds

Planting berries and other plants that provide nectar and seeds is important if your goal is to attract birds to your home. There are other tips, however, that may be helpful in your journey to attract these beautiful animals to your garden.

In planting berry/seed/nectar plants you are already providing much needed food for a lot of bird species that may be located around your neighborhood, but birds need more than food to live comfortably.

photo © Mary Marin
Having a water source is important for drinking and bathing purposes. A good way to provide water for birds is to have a bird bath. Bird baths are readily available in stores, but this page contains some incredible DIY bird baths that can be built at a low cost and using materials that you may already have at home! Building your own bird bath can be a fun family activity and can be customized to match your backyard decor. Explore more ideas for creating and taking care of birth baths in this link.

Birds also need shelter. Some good and easy ways to provide shelter are by leaving a pile of dead wood (this is also good as it provides a way for insects to grow and reproduce, and birds can feast on these creatures), building a brush pile, or just generally leaving patches of weeds in your yard. Birds will love the shelter and if you follow all the other suggestions, a great variety of birds will soon be paying you a visit!