Container Gardens

Photo © Jack

Instant Garden

Numerous wildlife are attracted to plants that can be easily grown in containers. For songbirds, try potted zinnias, sunflowers, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, strawberries, or millet. To attract hummingbirds, try mixed plantings of Eastern red columbine, autumn sage, and wild bergamot. For low maintenance options, try growing native grasses or cacti. There are many other species and combinations that are appropriate for container gardening, and supports can be added for vigorous plants. Container plants will need to be watered and fed (for example, with compost) more regularly than plants in the ground. Place them on your porch, roof, balcony, or near storefronts, and you will have a mess-free bird feeding station that can also support butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.


Photo © Rhiannon Crain

Surprise Residents

You might be surprised to find other small amphibians and mammals residing or frequenting your container gardens. This is especially true in areas where water is more scarce. Can you spot the Sierran Tree Frog (Pseudacris sierra) taking refuge in Habitat Network’s Project Leader’s container of strawberries? This little creature is happy to have some reliable water and likely abundant access to insects attracted to the plants. Add a container to your yard and see what animals you attract.

Contain Yourself

Female Cardinal perched in a planter

Photo © Rebecca Sherman

Creative Containers

You don’t need to lighten your wallet for fancy planters; after all, the birds are more concerned with what’s growing in the container than what it looks like. You could re-purpose household items that you no longer need (like old crates, that broken fountain, and whimsical yard sale finds), or even build your own planters out of scrap lumber. Window boxes, hanging plants, vertical gardens, or just a few pots on the stairs…believe it or not, these can provide foods and nesting places for birds! To keep your container plants healthy and vigorous, make sure your chosen container has proper drainage. You never want standing water to accumulate in your pots (unless you’re growing aquatic plants), because roots that sit in excess water will rot. So, if the container is leak-proof (e.g., an old cooking pot), be sure to drill adequate drain holes on the bottom. If the container is not sealed (e.g., an old wooden barrel), then it may have enough natural drainage for proper root aeration. You should consider adding drainage holes in the sides of your container too, if possible. You can make a difference by starting to think about container gardens as habitat helpers.

Tip: Allow spent flowers to go to seed. Deadheading flower stalks removes the seeds or fruits that birds need. Why throw out perfectly good bird food that would otherwise attract winter birds such as goldfinches, House Finches, and Pine Siskins?
Using Vertical Space Wisely

Photo © savagecats

Add a planter to your Map


Photo ©

First, find the planter object to place it on your map. It is located in the Tool Shed under Second. Scroll to the right using the arrows on the toolbar that pops up to find the planter object. Click it once to select it then click on the map where you’d like to place it and drag it open to the size you’d like. You can always change its size and position using the lock/unlock from editing box.


Photo ©

Double click on the planter to add important data and show off your conservation efforts. You can give your planter a name or title in Basic Information. Here you can also let us know the species planted in the planter. Start to type the common or scientific name into the field and a drop-down menu will display possible matches. Choose the correct name to set the species. Then click Characteristics to tell us more about the plants you have growing. Don’t forget, you can also make comments about the planter and upload pictures of it. We want to see how you use containers in your gardening.