Bright-red, elongate berries of Barbery, Berberis

10 berried plants for birds

Discover plants to grow for their berries to attract birds to your garden.

Antioxidants are an important part of a bird’s diet, helping them to endure long periods of physical activity. Berries are a particularly good source of antioxidants for birds. Those with the highest levels are ideal, though those with lower levels are important too, providing birds with winter food when their preferred berries are unavailable.


Are you a keen wildlife gardener? Why not take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch on Friday 28th to Sunday 30th January 2022?

Sadly, birdlife in the UK is struggling and according to the RSPB, our bird population has declined by a staggering 38 million over the last 50 years.

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, is now in its 43rd year and a great way for wildlife enthusiasts to get involved as citizen scientists and keep an eye on visiting garden birds. Last year over a million people took part, which helped the RSPB create an accurate picture of how our feathered friends are getting on, as well as highlighting which species most need our help.

Find out more about taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.

Take a look at 10 berried plants to try growing for birds on your plot.


Barberry (Berberis)

Non-native Berberis provides attractive fruits from summer to autumn and have a moderate antioxidant content. Particularly attractive to thrushes and blackbirds.

Bright-red elongate berries of Beerberis
Bright-red elongate berries of Berberis

Dogwood (Cornus sp.)

The black fruits of the dogwood (Cornus sp.) appear in autumn and have a high antioxidant content. Finches and thrushes love to pay a visit.

Red branches of dogwood, without leaves
Red branches of dogwood, without leaves


Robins, blackcaps and bullfinches are regular visitors to cotoneasters in autumn, when the berries, though low in antioxidants, provide a long-lasting treat.

Round red berries of cotoneaster
Round red berries of cotoneaster


Another berry with high antioxidant content, both native and non-native hawthorn species fruit in autumn and are a favorite of waxwings and blackbirds.

Deep-red hawthorn berries
Deep-red hawthorn berries


Ivy berries don’t contain as much in the way of antioxidants, but are very long lasting and an important winter food source for redwings, bullfinches and blackbirds.

Ivy growing up a frame
Ivy growing up a frame


Attract greenfinches and waxwings to your garden by planting holly. The berries are long lasting and provide good winter colour.

Glossy, spiky holly leaves and clusters of bright red berries -2
Glossy, spiky holly leaves and clusters of bright red berries


Robins, song thrushes and blackbirds love the glossy red berries of honeysuckle, which are produced after flowering, from late-summer to autumn.

Cream and yellow honeysuckle blooms
Cream and yellow honeysuckle blooms

Parthenocissus sp.

Though Parthenocissus berries are low in antioxidants, they’re long lasting and will attract blackcaps and mistle thrushes to your garden.

Red and green Parthenocissus leaves
Red and green Parthenocissus leaves


For rose hips to be produced, leave spent flowers on the plant and wait for autumn. The burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima) has some of the best antioxidant levels and attracts waxwings and blackbirds.

Brick-red hips of a rose
Brick-red hips of a rose


Rowan berries are produced in their masses in autumn. They make up for low antioxidant levels by providing a long lasting food source for blackcaps, finches, song thrushes and waxwings.

A mass of red rowan berries
A mass of red rowan berries

Kate Bradbury says

Grow as many berried plants as you can squeeze into your garden. These plants provide a reliable, perennial crop of food that’s essential to birds’ welfare – and it’s a much cheaper way to help birds than buying expensive bird food.

Kate Bradbury