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Cardinals

Plant lots of nasturtiums, coneflowers, and sunflowers to provide seeds for these year-round garden residents.

northern cardinal

Photo: Mr.TinDC (flickr)

Northern Cardinal munching on a berry.

Grow some flowers that ground-feeding Northern Cardinals enjoy so that you attract more of them to your garden. Also, don’t forget that they need cover and places to raise their babies so think about trees and shrubs that fruit such as dogwoods and serviceberries, and stock your feeders with black oil sunflower seeds.

Since cardinals don’t migrate, try to provide a sequence of flowers and berries and seeds throughout all four seasons. Red fruit plants such as hawthorn, raspberry, strawberry, sumac, winterberry, and holly help male cardinals form their red feathers because red berries contain carotenoid pigments.

We also need evergreens for them to shelter in during the winter, low-to-the-ground boxwoods, for example, as cardinals build their nests fairly close to the ground. Plant dense small shrubs and trees such as arborvitae, spruce, and junipers. Also, caterpillar-host plants such as dill, fennel, hollyhock, and snapdragons attract butterfly and moth caterpillars and are great sources of food for cardinal parents to feed their babies.

And remember plant lots of nasturtiums, coneflowers, and sunflowers to provide seeds for these year-round garden residents. Leave the deadheads on for their winter nourishment.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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