Sunday, August 19, 2012

Plants to attract birds to your garden.

Occasionally people ask at the garden centre about attracting birds, but they are either allergic to Grevillea or just don't like them (Whaaat?) so I am making a list of other plants, preferably Aussie to suggest to folks.
Please feel free to suggest good websites or plants if you know others.


Bird Attracting Plants
Plants that attract birds do so for a variety of reasons, food, both including nectar and insects, shelter, nesting places and refuge from predators, nesting material, plants that provide suitable material to construct nests.
Dense thicket like shrubs are better for attracting small birds, and remember, water is also great for attracting birds.
Some bird attracting plants include, correa, banksia, salvia, epacris impressa, grevillia and kangaroo paw. And the Rainbow Lorikeet (pictured right) just loves the Kniphofia in the garden.

Birds are attracted to plants for a variety of reasons.
  • Food. Nectar and insects
  • Shelter. Protection from predators. Prickly plants provide shelter for small birds.
  • Nesting and nesting materials
  • Water
List of plants that attract birds to the garden
Plants that attract birds for Australian gardens for shelter include, prickly Plants that provide shelter such as Hakea, Banksias, Lambertia and some Acacias attract birds for shelter.
Plants that attract birds to the garden by providing nectar and insects include Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paws) Grevilleas, Banksias, Acacias, Baekeas, Callistemons, Correas, Melaluecas, Leptospermums, Syzygium. Kennedia, Dianella, Kunzea, Salvia and Thyptomene. These plants attract birds for food.
Many grasses and reeds attract birds to the garden by providing nesting materials. Poa, Themeda and Stipa are a few.

Other bird attracting plants include:
Ajuga, Alyssum, Aster, Bee balm, Black-eyed Susan, Cardinal flower (Lobelia), Columbine (Aquilegia), Coneflower (Echinacea), Daylily (Hemerocallis), Evening primrose, Foxgloves, Geraniums, Hibiscus, Mahonia, Nandina, Nicotiana, Primrose, Red hot poker (Kniphofia), Salvia, Sedum, Sunflowers, Verbena, Viburnum and Zinnia.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Encouraging beneficial insects for aphid control.

Okay, I've probably said this before.. we must encourage beneficial insects to do our pest control. Not all problems can be solved but there are some extremely useful beneficial insects that will control aphids, which are seen as a major pest by many people in spring.
Ladybirds and lacewings are easy to encourage, simply by allowing a plant that has aphids to have aphids. They will build in numbers a little but this is the time needed for predatory insect numbers to increase to a level where they can control the pests. NOT spraying with chemicals is the best way to allow these useful insects to build up numbers.

Unfortunately people often spray just as ladybirds and lacewings are beginning to build up enough to be able to destroy their prey. Hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and their larvae are all killed easily with pyrethrin based sprays.  The larvae of these 'good bugs' are all able to eat aphids and will also eat caterpillar and beetle eggs they find, so they are extremely useful little creatures. Tiny wasps also lay their eggs in aphids, leaving little beige aphid mummies behind when the new wasp emerges from the dead aphids body.

"Natural" pesticides, though still far, far better than more nasty pesticides,  can sometimes cause unseen negative effects, so be sure to check whether you even need to spray.
If there are only a few of a pest it may be easy to pick them off and drop them into soapy water or squash them. Inspecting your plants regularly is a great way to keep on top of any potential problems.

Growing long flowering plants will also encourage the good guys to hang around as the adults rely on nectar from flowers for energy. Gone to seed vegetables, daisies, herbs, Allysum, Lobelia and many annual flowers are good to have around and will readily reseed from year to year.

Be wary of what you use to control pests in the garden.