Native Plants for Birds

To help you create bird friendly habitat in your landscape, we are continuing our monthly series featuring a native plant that is beneficial to birds and pollinators.

This month's plant is: Walter’s Viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)

Walters Viburnum watermark CBW IMG 20200222 103809Walter’s Viburnum honors a colonial botanist named Thomas Walter (1740-1789). Thomas Walter was an English born planter who described this species in his catalog of South Carolina flowering plants, Flora Caroliniana. It grows along the southeastern American coastal plain from South Carolina down to central Florida and back up to Alabama. It can be found in acidic moist woods, near streams, or in swamps.

It is an evergreen woody shrub which is available in many different forms – upright, spreading, weeping, or dwarf. It is extremely fast growing and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. You can plant it in your garden in full sun or part shade; however, if you want spring blooms, full sun is best. It has lovely creamy white flowers which attract the bees and butterflies in the spring. In the fall, it has small red berries which turn black as they mature and are a great food source for birds and small mammals.

It is moderately drought resistant and tolerates hurricane winds. It makes an excellent accent plant in the landscape or you can grow a wonderful hedgerow or border screen, providing habitat for nesting birds. (Please note that it can send up suckers but pruning on a regular basis will keep that in check.) Its dark green leaves vary in size from small to medium and are glossy, leathery, and tightly compacted, enhancing the ability to be a great buffer and nesting site. In northeast Florida, it might also experience a brief, deciduous period in the winter during colder temperatures.

For additional information on native plants for birds, check out Audubon's excellent Plants for Birds website: Audubon.org/plantsforbirds.

For local sources of native plants, check with the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant SocietyThey often have native plants as well as cuttings available at their monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. Check out their Events Calendar for all of their upcoming activities.

--Jody Willis, Vice President and Outreach Director, October 2020