Plants with berries are invaluable for attracting wildlife to the garden as well as providing an extra layer of interest for a plant often extending its season of interest.
Berries are obviously great for attracting birds to the garden who will naturally also feed on slugs, snails and aphids acting as natural pest control.
Berry colour is usually used when selecting plants to extend interest into the autumn and winter. However some plants do berry earlier in the season or can carry their berries through to spring.
When selecting plants for their berry colour there are a few pointers to bear in mind such as berry colour and longevity of the fruit itself, also reliability of berry production is an important factor. If a plant flowers well then it should also bear a lot of berry. Red berried plants tend to produce their berries in the autumn and are usually the first of all of the berries to be consumed by birds. Plants that bear berries of other colours tend to fruit earlier in the season with the berries being held for a longer period or until heavy frosts. White, cream and purple –blue/black berries are not as attractive to many birds and as a result are usually left on the plant for a longer period of time unless there is a very harsh winter.
There are many plants that have berries valuable to wildlife including the following selection from our stock on site:
- Mahonia have blue-black berries and has the added bonus of being a super tough plant that will happily tolerate shade and dry soils too.
- Sorbus aucuparia is a UK native that forms a large tree up to 12m in height and smothered in orange – red berries in the autumn months. Sorbus aucuparia ‘Sheerwater Seedling’ is great for smaller gardens reaching 10m in height. If you want you berries to last a little longer on a Sorbus then try Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ that has orange- yellow berries that the birds tend to leave alone until spring.
- Hedera. One of the most popular plants for birds as once the plant is mature it also provides nesting cover. Ideal for shady areas
- Ilex. Good old Ilex aquifolium is a UK native and is irresistible to birds. Again a versatile plant useful for hedging, as a tree or as a specimen shrub in mixed planting.
- Cotoneaster. An excellent choice as there are so many forms available – ground cover, shrub and small trees, virtually a berry for every layer in the garden. Cotoneaster dammeri flowers it socks off and forms a small prostrate shrub that is covered in the autumn with red berries. Cotoneaster frigidus ‘Cornubia’ forms a small tree up to 5 metres in height with large red berries in the autumn.
- Berberis will reward you with berries best if they are panted in sun although they will happily tolerate semi-shade too. Berberis also provide dense foliage cover for birds.
- Rose hips are an excellent choice for birds as they will be happily taken by blackbirds and a wide range of birds besides. Rosa rugose and Rosa canina are excellent choices as the fruits stay juicy for some time
- Viburnum tinus and Viburnum opulus are the most obvious choices for attracting birds. Viburnum opulus has bright, bright red berries in the autumn whereas Viburnum tinus has small black berries in the early autumn appealing to smaller birds.
- Malus are great plants for producing berry. The berries are quite fleshy and are a great feast for birds in the late summer / autumn. Malus ‘Evereste’ is a popular choice with garden designers and birds alike. The orange flushed fruits last for quite a while until the birds discover their presence.
- Amelanchier has deep red berries in the autumn months attracting a wide range of small birds including the loveable Robin.
- Pyracantha is a versatile plant as it can be trained to cover a wall, planted as a free standing shrub or as use for a hedging plant. Ideal for a shady spot and covered in berry in the autumn
- Sambucus has shiny black berries that are a rich source of food for birds as well as making good jam for us humans too!
Cotoneaster berry Malus Evereste Rose hips Sorbus berry Viburnum opulus Pyracantha berry Amelanchier berry Ilex berry