What is container gardening?

Container gardening is when plants are grown in containers such as pots rather than into the ground. Container gardening is for urban areas where having an actual garden is not possible. It is space-efficient and mobile, so it can be arranged to fit wherever you choose to set up 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 helps strengthen the bird population.

What kinds of plants can you grow?

Many types of plants can be grown in urban areas. Some of them produce various 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!


(Photo © Mississippi State University Extension Center)
(Photo © Terry Glase)
Black Chokeberry
(Photo © Julie Makin)
Pagoda Dogwood
(Photo © James Baugh)
(Photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski)
Arrowwood 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 are also pretty and will accentuate whatever area you decide to turn into your urban garden! Additionally, flowers provide seeds and nectar for birds.


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

(Photo © David K. Northington)
(Photo © George H. Bruso)
Little Blue Stem
(Photo © Carolyn Fannon)
(Photo © Stefan Bloodworth)
(Photo © Campbell & Lynn Loughmiller)
(Photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski)


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 Creepers
(Photo © Sally & Andy Wasowski)
©Jennifer Anderson USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

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. Here are 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 reduces 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.  Below you can find some other tips on how 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.

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.  You can even customize it to match your backyard decor! Explore more ideas for creating and taking care of birth baths here.

(Photo © Mary Marin)

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!