Most gardeners are always looking to attract birds to the garden. By selecting and cultivating plants that provide food certainly helps the cause enormously. Just as important is trying to create suitable habitats that offer shelter, protection and nesting opportunities to birds. Water also plays a significant role in making birds feel at home in suburban environments. Bird baths and water features with a constant supply of fresh, clean water are most important. Plants that attract insects to the garden encourage insect eating birds to the garden. Supplementary feeding in the form of seeds, grains, suet, artificial nectar and fruit are used by many gardeners to encourage birds to visit. However, the best means of attracting our feathered friends is by growing the appropriate plants in the garden.

These are just a few of the many bird attracting plants that are suitable for growing in KwaZulu-Natal gardens.

Annuals and perennials (low growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (N) = nectar rich (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Aechmea species and hybrids (bromeliad) (E) (N)
Agaapanthus praecox subsp orientalis– all hybrids and cultivars (lily of the Nile) (ED) (I) (N)
Aloe vanbalenii (van Balen’s aloe) (E) (I) (N) – Note: all aloes are nectar rich and attract birds whilst in bloom, usually in winter
Amaranthus species (marog) (E) (S)
Anigozanthus species and hybrids (kangaroo paw) (E) (N)
Chasmanthe floribunda (D) (I) (N)
Cotyledon orbiculata (pig’s ears) (E) (I) (N)
Delphinium elatum (delphinium) (ED) (N)
Fragaria x ananassa (strawberry) (E) (F)
Kniphofia uvaria and all other species and cultivars (red hot poker) (ED) (I) (N)
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) (D) (N)
Penstemon hybrids (penstemon) (E) (N)
Strelitzia reginae (crane flower) (E) (I) (N) (S)
Tagetes erecta (marigold) (E) (S)
Verbena x hybrida (vervain) (E) (N)
Vriesea species and hybrids (bromeliad) (E) (N)
Watsonia species and hybrids (D) (I) (N) (B)

Grasses Note: most grasses both annual and perennial will attract seed eating birds to the garden, they just need to be left uncut to flower and set seed

Shrubs and climbers (medium to tall growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (N) = nectar rich (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Alberta magna (Natal flame) (E) (I) (N)
Aloe arborescens (krantz aloe) (E) (I) (N)
Aloe ferox (bitter aloe) (E) (I) (N)
Aloiampelos tenuior var tenuior (climbing aloe) (E) (I) (N) (C)
Burchellia bubalina (wild pomegranate) (E) (I) (N)
Callistemon citrinus ‘Endeavour’ (Australian bottlebrush) (E) (N)
Dovyalis caffra (Kei apple) (ED) (I) (F)
Erica cerinthoides (red hairy heath) (E) (I) (N) Note: all indigenous Ericas (heaths) attract birds
Erythrina humeana (dwarf coral tree) (D) (I) (N)
Feijoa sellowiana (pineapple guava) (E) (N) (F)
Fuchsia all species and hybrids (fuchsia or ballerinas) (ED) (N)
Hamelia patens (firebush) (E) (N)
Hoslundia opposita (orange bird berry) (E) (I) (F)
Leonotis leonurus (wild dagga or lion’s tail) (E) (I) (N) Note: all leonotis attract nectar feeders
Leucospermum cordifolium plus all other species and hybrids (pin cushion) (E) (I) (N)
Maytenus procumbens (dune koko tree) (E) (I) (F)
Metarungia longistrobus (sunbird bush) (E) (I) (N)
Myrsine africana (Cape myrtle) (E) (I) (F)
Ochna serrulata (small leafed plane, mickey mouse bush) (E) (I) (F)
Odontonema stricta (hummingbird bush) (E) (N)
Phygelius aequalis all hybrids and cultivars (wild fuchsia) (ED) (I) (N)
Protea repens plus most other species and hybrids (sugar bush) (E) (I) (N)
Psychotria capensis (black bird berry) (E) (I) (F)
Rhoicissus rhomboidei (glossy forest grape) (E) (I) (C) (F)
Russelia equisetiformis (coral shrub) (E) (N)
Tecoma capensis all forms and cultivars (Cape honeysuckle) (E) (I) (N)
Telopea speciosissima (waratah) (E) (N)

Trees (tall growing)

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (N) = nectar rich (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Aloidendron barberae (tree aloe) (E) (I) (N)
Antidesma venosum (tassel berry) (ED) (I) (F)
Apodytes dimidiata (white pear) (E) (I) (F)
Bersama luscens (glossy white ash) (E) (I) (F)
Bridelia micrantha (mitzeerie) (D) (I) (F)
Carica papaya (paw paw or papaya) (E) (F)
Celtis africana (white stinkwood) (D) (I) (F)
Diospyros whyteana (bladder nut) (E) (I) (F)
Ekebergia capensis (Cape ash) (E) (I) (F)
Erythrina caffra (inland coral tree) (D) (I) (N)
Erythrina lysistemon (coral tree) (D) (I) (N)
Ficus carica (eating fig) (D) (F)
Ficus natalensis (Natal fig) (ED) (F) – Note: all wild figs are amongst the finest bird attracting plants but they need huge gardens to grow in and roots can cause damage to property.
Ficus sur (Cape wild fig) (D) (I) (F)
Ficus trichopoda (hippopotamus fig) (E) (I) (F)
Grewia occidentalis (cross-berry) (E) (I) (F)
Greyia sutherlandii (Natal bottlebrush) (D) (I) (N)
Halleria lucida (wild tree fuchsia) (E) (I) (N) (F)
Harpephyllum caffrum (wild plum) (E) (I) (F)
Kigelia pinnata (sausage tree) (D) (I) (N)
Kiggelaria afrcicana (wild peach) (E) (I) (F)
Mimusops caffra (coastal red milkwood) (E) (I) (F)
Pappea capensis (doppruim or bushveld cherry) (E (I) (F)
Protorhus longifolia (red beech) (E) (I) (F)
Rhamnus prinoides (dogwood) (E) (I) (F)
Schotia brachypetala (weeping Boer bean) (E) (I) (N)
Sclerocarya birrea subsp caffra (marula) (D) (I) (F)
Stenocarpus sinuatus (fire wheel tree) (E) (N)
Strelitzia nicolai (wild banana) (E) (I) (N) (S)
Syzygium cordatum (water berry) (E) (I) (F)
Syzygium paniculatum (Australian brush cherry) (E) (F)
Trema orientalis (pigeon wood) (D) (I) (F)
Turraea obtusifolia (small honeysuckle tree) (E) (I) (N)

Vachellia karoo (sweet thorn) (D) (S) Note: all trees previously known as Acacia (now Senegalia and Vachellia) commonly called thorn trees produce flowers and seeds that attract certain bird species

Key: (E) = evergreen (D) = deciduous (I) = indigenous (F) = fruit (N) = nectar rich (S) = seed (C) = climber (B) = bulb

Whilst every care and caution has been taken in compiling these lists in terms of correctness and accuracy, Blackwood’s, nor any of their employees can be held liable or responsible if any of the recommendations are found to be incorrect in any way whatsoever. They are merely a guide to help gardeners and staff in finding solutions to gardening problems. All plants listed may not be available for sale at times. They do however all grow in the greater KwaZulu-Natal area and are to be found growing successfully in local gardens.