Home Plant Propagation From Cuttings

There are many reasons to propagate plants but the basic reason is simply to make multiple plants from a single plant that is unique, attractive, or has become old and leggy. Of course, propagation can be for sentimental reasons because it grew in grandmother’s garden.

It is not possible to cover all the propagation techniques in one article but there are many reference books on the topic, some of which are given at the end of the article.

Sexual Propagation: This is the method of reproduction that yields new plants from viable seeds produced by plants. The advantage of asexual propagation is that seeds can be stored for a long period of time. Propagation from seed results in genetic variability and is useful if the intent is an improved or different plant characteristic.

Asexual Propagation: Asexual propagation results in plants that have the same characteristic as the parent plant with regard to size, form, color, and growth habit. Methods include stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, division, layering, root cuttings, and leaf bud cuttings. Commercial nursery trade methods included grafting, budding, and tissue culture.

To be successful in plant propagation, it is important to consider the rooting and growing media, rooting hormone, temperature, light, moisture, and fertilization. The most common and easiest methods of plant propagation are stem cuttings, simple division, and layering. Due to space
limitations, only propagation by stem cuttings will be covered.

Cuttings: The types of stem cuttings generally used for propagating woody plants are softwood, semihardwood, and hardwood.

Softwood cuttings are taken from new growth of the current season. They are used for propagating deciduous shrubs. The best months to take softwood cuttings of shrubs are June and July although some may be taken in August. I’ve had 100% success rate rooting acuba cuttings taken in June.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken in late summer but are made from the current season’s growth that has partially matured and is becoming woody. Examples are broad-leaved evergreens such as holly, euonymus, and azalea. My records indicate a survival rate for Dwarf Burford hollies of about 70% using cuttings taken in August.

Hardwood cuttings may be taken from deciduous plants and narrow-leaved evergreens. Cuttings are usually taken in late fall or early winter after the plants have gone dormant. Examples of suitable deciduous plants are althea, barberry, and spirea. Cuttings from narrow-leaved evergreen plants should be taken from the terminal growth of the previous season’s growth and contain a small portion of year-old growth. Examples are junipers and yews. My survival rate for Sargent juniper cuttings taken in August is about 60%.

Taking the Cutting: With a sterilized sharp knife, make a slanting cut from a terminal section of an un-branched stem 8 to 10 inches long. Then trim the base to just below a node leaving a cutting of about 4 to 6 inches. Avoid taking cuttings from weak, spindly growth. Remove the lower ½ to 2/3rds of the leaves and any flower buds. Sometimes I strip away about ½ inch of the bark and cambian layer to assist in rooting. Softwood
and semi-hardwood cuttings should be taken during the cool portion of the day. As you collect the cuttings, place them in a plastic bag to avoid wilting.

Rooting Media: The rooting medium must be clean and sterile. Make sure the pots or containers, tools, and workbench are also sterilized. For sterilizing my equipment and pots, I use a solution of 10% chlorine and 90% water. The rooting medium should not contain any fertilizer. Begin fertilization only after the cuttings are rooted and have been transplanted to the growing medium.

Clean, coarse, construction sand by its self may be used as a rooting medium. Avoid fine sand since it has poor aeration that retards root formation. I have found that a generic mixture of one-part coarse sand to one-part peat moss, by volume, works well. Different media formulations, however, may be needed for specific plants (see references).

Horticultural grade (No. 2) vermiculite is suitable for rooting cuttings. Perlite gives good results when mixed with an equal volume of peat moss or vermiculite.

Garden soil should not be used for a rooting medium, even if it is sterilized, since it tends to compact and have poor aeration qualities.

Inserting the Cutting: As little time as possible should lapse from the time the cuttings are taken until they are inserted into the rooting medium. I usually dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone such as Rootone. Use a dibble or sharpened dowel to make a hole in the moist rooting medium and stick the cutting into the rooting medium up to the remaining leaves. Water thoroughly to settle the medium around the base of the cutting.

Care of the Cuttings: The cuttings must never be allowed to dry out but avoid excessive watering that results in poor aeration and death of new roots. Since cuttings don’t have a root system, high humidity must be maintained. Low humidity will result in wilting, scorch, leaf drop, and death. Enclosures help maintain high humidity.

If only a few cuttings are to be rooted, a miniature greenhouse can be created using a plastic pot with good drainage that is covered with a large plastic bag that is supported by wire cut from coat hangers. Monitor the plastic bag for condensate and water the medium when the condensate on the bag disappears. Never place plastic-enclosed containers in direct sunlight or excessive heat will build up. For rooting large numbers of
cuttings, use a coldframe, hotbed, or greenhouse.

My personal preference is a not-so-fancy coldframe made from scrap lumber and an old window sash. The back of the coldframe should be about 6 inches higher than the front of the frame. I stick individual cuttings in 3” pots containing a rooting medium of equal parts coarse sand and peat moss. The bottom of the coldframe contains a mixture of manure mixed with grass clippings or leaves to provide bottom heat to the pots. I mist and/or water the cuttings on a daily basis (sometimes more often) to keep high humidity in the coldframe. The coldframe is located in an area that is in indirect light for most of the day. If it gets any direct sunlight, I cover the coldframe sash with an old screen or wooden lathes.

Very Important – Care of Rooted Cuttings: This is the point where many failures occur and is seldom addressed in most books. Root formation time varies greatly depending on the plants. Most woody cuttings root in about 8 to 10 weeks (forsythia) but rhododendron can take 3 to 4 months. Check cuttings after about 6 weeks by carefully removing a couple from the rooting medium. After the cuttings have roots that are about 1-inch long, they can be transplanted into the growing medium. Remember that the move from a high humidity, moist environment to a low humidity, dryer soil is a critical transition period. Give these plants close attention for the first few weeks after the transplant. During this period keep them well watered and reduce heat stress by placing them in a shaded area.

If only a few cuttings are rooted, pot them in individual containers containing the growing medium. For most plants, a growing medium of equal parts good topsoil, coarse sand, and peat moss works well. Azaleas and rhododendrons require an acidic soil mix that can be purchased. Add about 1 cup of 10-10- 10 fertilizer and 1 cup of ground limestone to each bushel of growing mixture. Mix thoroughly before filling the containers. For the time-strapped propagator, purchased potting soil used for houseplants may be substituted.

If you have a large number of cuttings, develop a nursery bed using thoroughly pulverized soil and work in 3 to 4 inches of compost, peat moss, or other organic material. Add fertilizer and lime as directed by a soil test. Install some shade over the cuttings during the first growing season. Using laths, burlap, or old screens can provide shade.

During the first winter, provide protection to the transplanted cuttings by mulching with wheat straw or use a coldframe. If using a coldframe, remember to open the cover on hot days. After two growing seasons in the nursery bed, the new plants can be moved to their permanent location.

Please remember that these steps are generic in nature. The type of plant, the length of time needed to root, the composition of the rooting and growing medium, and the proper time of year to take cuttings is very plant specific. Please use one or more of the reference books list or talk to people who have had experience with propagating certain types of plants for more specific guidance.


Butterfly Bush
Crape Myrtle


  1. Toogood, A. 1999. American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation. DK Publishing, Inc.
  2. Cullina, W. Native Trees & Shrubs, Vines. 2002. Frances Tenenbaum Book.
  3. Cullina, W. Wildflowers. 2000. Frances Tenenbaum Book.
  4. Macdonald, B. Practical Woody Plant Propagation for Nursery Growers. 1986. Timber Press.
  5. Hartmann, H.T. and D. E. Kester. 1983. Plant Propagation Principles and Practices. Fourth Edition. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  6. Dirr, M. and Charles Heuser. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. 1987. Varsity Press, Inc.
  7. Dirr, M. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Fifth Edition. 1998. Stipes Publishing L.L.C.
  8. Free, M. Plant Propagation in Pictures. 1957. Doubleday & Company, Inc.

What is a Xeriscape?

In response to drought and limited water resources a number of new landscaping ideas have evolved to reduce water and maintenance requirements while still providing aesthetically pleasing landscapes. A philosophy for the conservation of water through creative landscaping has engendered the new term, xeriscape (pronounced “zera-scape”), The term xeriscape is derived from the Greek word XEROS meaning dry, combined with landscaping, thus xeriscaping. The term was coined in Colorado by the Denver Water Department in 1981.

Native species are often preferred for natural landscapes but plant selection should take into consideration the microclimate and topography of the site. In some cases, native plants will not be the most appropriate choice because man’s development of a site can greatly alter the microclimate and topography. Thus, effective xeriscaping should match plants with the microclimatic features of the developed landscape site. Natural landscaping involves plant selection that is based on climate and environment of the area as well as site characteristics of exposure, light intensity, soil pH, soil aeration, soil mineral analysis, site drainage, and irrigation water quality. Proper plant selection based on site  characteristics should enhance the plants’ likelihood of becoming established in the site and reduce potential incidences of low vigor, excessive  maintenance, disease, or death.

The importance of water conservation in Georgia has increased as water shortages; restrictions of its use and population growth have placed increasing strain on available water supplies. Landscape Efficiency is a more general term and perhaps better accounts for the conditions prevalent to Georgia. After all, Georgia is not a dry state and averages between 46 and 76 inches of rain on non-drought years. Let’s look at the following steps of Xeriscaping in more detail.

The Seven Principles of Xeriscape
1) Planning and Design
Start with an accurate plan of the site, identify site problems and potentials, and develop a list of needs and wants to be incorporated in the new plan. As your plan begins to take form, divide the landscape into water-use zones. Incorporate shade where possible, and develop your plan using appropriate plants. Consider renovation of your existing landscape. You will find that in the long term you will save water and money!

2) Soil Analysis
Before planting, check the structure and texture of the native soil. Your goal for soil analysis is to help you create an ideal soil environment for the expanding root system. An ideal soil has good aeration and drainage, yet holds adequate moisture and nutrients for optimum root growth.

3) Limited Turf Areas
Use turf for a function or aesthetic benefit, such as in a recreational area, to prevent erosion on a slope or as a welcome mat to the home. Select a turfgrass that is adapted to the site and has good drought resistance. Be willing to accept a less than perfect look. A healthy turfgrass will wilt and turn brown during periods of drought and spring back to its normal color and growth pattern with adequate water.

4) Appropriate Plant Selection
Some plants are perfect for adding year-round greenery and texture; others are great for adding seasonal color. Select plants appropriate to the site and the imposed stresses of the environment. Many of the Southern ornamental plants presently on the market are good candidates for a water-wise landscape as long as they are adapted to the site and zoned in the landscape according to their water need. For more information go to: http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1073.htm#Tables

5) Efficient Irrigation
By irrigating between midnight and 10am (state wide restriction preset days are: odd numbered addresses on Sundays, Tuesdays & Thursdays; even numbered addresses on Monday, Wednesday & Saturdays – NO WATERING on Fridays), less evaporation of water occurs. A well-planned and well maintained irrigation system can significantly reduce a traditional landscape’s water use. For the most efficient use of water, irrigate turf areas separately from other plantings. Other irrigation zones should be designed so low-water-use plants receive only the water they require. The use of a drip system may help with this goal.

6) Use of Mulches
Use fine-textured organic, non-matting mulches when possible. Fall leaves, pine straw, pine bark, mininuggets and shredded hardwood bark are excellent choices. Mulch as large an area as possible under trees and shrubs. The use of mulches helps conserve water in the soil and insulates the roots of plants from extreme heat in summer (cold in winter), cools the soil, reduces weed growth, minimizes evaporation and slows erosion. Mulches also reduce soil-borne foliar diseases by acting as a barrier between the soil and the foliage. Mulches can also provide landscape interest and offer protective cover until plants mature. Fine-textured mulches hold moisture in the soil better than coarse-textured mulches like large-nugget pine bark.

7) Proper Maintenance
Keep plants healthy, but do not encourage water-demanding new growth. Once plants are established, reduce the amount of nitrogen applied as well as the application rate and frequency of application. Avoid plant stress by mowing properly, by thinning shrubs instead of shearing, and by controlling weeds and pests before they affect plant health.

The goal of xeriscaping is to create a visually attractive landscape that uses plants selected for their water efficiency. A xeriscape-type landscape is low maintenance, saving you time, effort and money. It is also an environmentally sound landscape, requiring less fertilizer and fewer  chemicals. Each of the above seven steps is a good gardening practice and the more of them you implement, the more water efficient your landscape becomes.

Properly maintained, a xeriscaped yard can easily save you money and reduce your water usage between 40-60 percent compared to a traditional landscape. According to a 1999 UGA drought statistic; for each 1000 square feet of landscape you no longer irrigated, you could save as much as $200 per year on your water and sewage bill. Nationally, communities have been faced with increased demands on existing water
supplies. Consequently, there is a greater focus on water conservation, not just in times of drought, but also in anticipation of future population growth. Water can no longer be considered a limitless resource.

Bringing Home The Birds

The pallet of the landscape is transforming from subtle browns and tans, exploding to splashes of hot pink, white, yellow, and purple. The sweet smelling crabapple blossoms, showering down papery petals in a gentle breeze, blanket the landscape. The rustling, hatter, and singing of the   wildlife have filled the once still air. Spring is here!

I peer out my bedroom window to watch the dance of the robins in the crabapple trees. Pecking a few of the faded fruits remaining from winter,
Mr. Robin urgently searches for a home to impress Mrs. Robin. This is a busy time for the migratory birds, just arriving back home after a long
flight. Some species of birds fly thousands of miles from Central America, Mexico, or South America to arrive at their final destination. In the
southeast, our American Robin, Turdus migratorius, is with us all year long. In a matter of days, the male robin scopes out his territory and then
the female arrives (choosing the male with the best nesting spot). They then build a nest, incubate eggs, and raise their young, or brood. In the case of the robin, they have two (sometimes three) broods before winter arrives

You might ask yourself, “What influences Mr. & Mrs. Robin to select their prime nesting spot?” They are looking for the same things that we do to survive: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young. Birds will often return to the same location year after year if all of these are present. So let’s discuss what you can do in your garden to bring home the birds.

Depending on the species of bird, their diets will vary greatly. In the case of my friend, the robin, his/her diet consists of a mixture of fruits, berries, earthworms, and insects such as beetle grubs, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. Another frequent visitor to my garden is the Carolina wren,
Thryothorus ludovicianus, which does not migrate. He’s also here all year round. The Carolina wren is a ground forager whose diet mainly consists of caterpillars, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, wasps, and flies (I’m sure you can already see the wonderful benefits of attracting birds to your garden!).

There are so many native plants you can place in your landscape that provide fruit, berries, and seeds that our native birds need (see Tables 1.1-1.4). From my own observations in my backyard, the crabapple trees, smooth sumac, yaupon holly, American beautyberry, chokeberry, elderberry, blackberry, and blueberry are very popular amongst the fruit and berry eating birds. And like it or not, poison ivy berries are a favorite. I make sure this vine stays far away from my walkways!

For the seedeaters, I see lots of activity on my swamp sunflower, black-eyed-Susans, purple coneflower, and goldenrod. For nectar loving birds such as hummers, cardinal flower, bee balm, salvia (pineapple, anise & autumn sage), crossvine, coral honeysuckle, and jewelweed are big attractors.

But in addition to our bird friendly plants, it’s always a pleasure to supplement feed our feathered friends at our feeders. I especially make sure the feeders are full during late winter and early spring since the natural food supplies are diminishing and the new migrants are arriving. There are so many feeders available, some bird specific, that it can be overwhelming. The website www.enature.com has wonderful information on the various feeders and more.

My favorites are the standard cylindrical tube on a pole complete with the squirrel baffle, thistle feeder, suet, and nectar feeder. The cylindrical feeder attracts an array of birds from titmouse to woodpeckers. The seeds that are tossed out by the fussy eaters are eaten by the ground foragers (such as morning doves). I usually mix my own seed consisting of black oil sunflower, hulled sunflower, safflower, and sometimes peanuts. I stay away from corn and millet; two foods that appear to attract more rats than birds! The thistle feeder is specific to gold finches. And of course, the nectar feeder is for our sweet little hummers. This is filled with 1 part sugar to 4 parts water and is refilled every few days.

Not only is food essential to your habitat but also water. A simple birdbath that is 12 inches wide and two to three inches deep works perfectly. Also, water drips and fountains are appealing to birds because of the rippling affect on the water surface. A water garden or pond is also inviting. Just be sure to have a very gentle slope (half inch to 4 inches) so that it is accessible to the birds. The placement of your water feature will also determine which birds it will attract. In open areas, bolder species such as robins, jays, and chickadees will visit. To attract the more timid species, such as warblers, place your water source near evergreen shrubs.

For stagnant water, such as birdbaths, be sure to change the water every few days. Not only to keep it clean for our visiting birds, but also to prevent mosquitoes. Mosquito dunks or bits (Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt) are also helpful if added to the water. Bt is a naturally occurring soil bacterium, which is lethal to mosquito larvae but harmless to mammals and birds.

The next essential element, which encompasses your entire habitat, is shelter. To create a desirable shelter, we must concentrate on vegetation structure and layering. “Many migrants are attracted to thickets, dense masses of fruiting shrubs, vines, briers, and brambles. Native trees and shrubs are best, because they are genetically programmed to leaf out, bloom, and fruit at precisely the right time for the migrants with which they’ve co-evolved.” According to Janet Marinelli, Director of Publishing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It is also essential to have brush and  log piles, and a small open area or meadow. This is where being a good steward comes into play. Be as organic and pesticide free as possible. If your garden is diverse, consists of plants native to your area, and you practice good maintenance habits, this should come naturally. If you must reach for the bottle of pesticide, please read the label carefully!

For the final element, we must provide places for the birds to raise their young. By providing a good shelter, you’ve probably already created good nesting places. Good nesting places are evergreen trees and shrubs, snags, trees with cavities, brush piles, and artificial nesting sites (such as nesting boxes). I often have robins and wrens nesting in plants on my front porch. Another important aspect of a nesting site is safety. Birds want to feel secure from predators. One of the biggest predators in my habitat is the free-roaming domestic cat. So if you own a cat, please be mindful of this. A bell around the neck does not work when it comes to baby birds. Please, try to keep kitty inside, especially in spring.

This sounds like a lot of work but with time and patience, it can be accomplished. If you are successful, the rewards are endless. The ultimate gift in return is to discover a nest, with 5 bright blue eggs, see them hatch, watch the brood grow, and take their first flight!


All provide shelter to some degree but the evergreens* offer more winter protection

Common Name Botanical Name Resource
American beech Fagus grandiflora Nut, shelter(not evergreen but leaves drop late)
American holly Ilex opaca Shelter, fruit
Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis “Green Giant” Shelter
Blackgum Nyssa sylvatica Fruit
Eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana Fruit, shelter
Hickory Carya spp. Nuts & nut scraps
Magnolia, sweetbay*, southern*, cucumber tree, bigleaf, fraser Magnolia virginiana, M. grandiflora, M. acuminata, M. macrophylla, M. fraseri Seed, shelter
Oak; note the Sawtooth Oak is considered an exotic invasive Quercus spp.; note the white oaks produce acorns more frequently than red Nuts & nut scraps
Persimmon, common Diospyros virginiana Fruit
Pine* Pinus spp. Seed, Shelter
Sourwood Oxydendrum arboreum Seed
Sycamore Platanus occidentalis Seed
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua Seed
Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera Seed, nectar
Wild or black cherry Prunus serotina Fruit
Riverbirch Betula nigra Seed
Winged elm Ulmus alata Seed
Ash, white & green Fraxinus americana, F. pennsylvanica lanceolata Seed

All provide shelter to some degree but the evergreens* offer more winter protection

Common Name Botanical Name Resource
American beautyberry Calicarpa americana Fruit
American Hophornbeam Ostrya virgiana Fruit
Agarista* Agarista populifolia Shelter, nectar
Arborvitae* Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ Shelter
Blackberry Rubus spp. Fruit
Blueberry Vaccinium spp. Fruit
Chokeberry, red Aronia arbutifolia Fruit
Clethra Clethra alnifolia Fruit, nectar
Devil’s walkingstick Aralia spinosa Fruit
Dogwood Cornus florida Fruit
Elderberry Sambucus canadensis Fruit
Florida anise* Illicium floridanum Nectar, shelter
Fothergilla Fothergilla gardeni, F. major Seeds
Fringe tree Chionanthus virginicus Fruit
Gray owl juniper* Juniperus virginiana Fruit, shelter
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Fruit
Hawthorn Crataegus spp Fruit
Huckleberry, some* Gaylussacia spp Berry
Inkberry* Ilex glabra Fruit
Leucothoe* Leucothoe spp. Nectar, shelter
Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’, M. ashei Ashe Magnolia Seed
Mountain laurel* Kalmia latifolia Nectar, shelter
Native azalea Rhodendron viscosum, R. canescens, R. prunifolium, R. roseum, R. austrinum Nectar
Osage orange Maclura pomifera Fruit
Possumhaw Ilex decidua Fruit
Red Mulberry Morus rubra Fruit
Rhododendron* Rhododendron catawbiense, R. maxmium Nectar, shelter
Rose, swamp Rosa palustris Fruit
Sassafras Sassafras albidium Fruit
Serviceberry Amalanchier arborea Fruit
Southern crabapple Malus angustifolia Fruit
Spicebush Lindera benzoin Fruit
Strawberry bush Euonymus americanus Fruit
Sumac Rhus spp. Fruit
Viburnum, mapleleaf & Rusty black haw Viburnum acerifolium V. rufidulum Fruit
Wax myrtle* Morella cerifera Fruit, shelter
Wild plum Prunus americana Fruit
Winterberry Ilex verticillata Fruit
Yaupon holly* Ilex vomitoria Fruit, shelter

All provide shelter to some degree but the evergreens* offer more winter protection
P=perennial, A=annual, V=vine

Common Name Botanical Name Resource
Aster, Short’s Aster shortii P Nectar, seed
Shale aster Aster oblongifolius P Nectar, seed
Bee balm Monarda didyma M. fistulosa P Nectar
Black-eyed-Susan Rudbeckia spp. P & A Seed
Cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis P Nectar
Carolina jessamine* Gelsemium sempervirens V Nectar, shelter
Columbine, wild red Aquilegia canadensis P Nectar
Coral bells Heuchera americana P Nectar
Coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens V Nectar
Coreopsis, tickseed Coreopsis auriculata P & A Seed
threadleaf, pink tickweed C. verticillata, C. rosea P & A Seed
Crossvine* Bignonia capreolata V Nectar, shelter
Firepink Silene virginica P Nectar, seed
Geranium, wild Geranium maculatum P Seed
Goldenrod Salidago spp. P Seed
Grasses, native- some* Andropogon spp, Panicum spp, Juncus spp*,Caryx * P&A Seeds, shelter, nesting material
Greenbriar Smilax spp. P Nectar
Indian pink Spigelia marilandica P Nectar
Iris, copper Iris fulva P Nectar
Iris, dwarf Iris cristata P Nectar
Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum P Fruit
Jewelweed Impatiens A Nectar
Joepyeweed Eupatorium fistulosum P Seed
Lantana Lantana spp P&A Fruit, nectar
Mosses, lichens * Various spp Nesting materials
Mountain mint Pycnanthemum tenuifolium P Seeds
Muscadine, wild grape Vitis rotundifolia V Fruit
Obedient plat Physostegia virginiana P Nectar
Partridge berry* Mitchella repens V Fruit
Phlox, Carolina Phlox carolinia P Nectar
Poison ivy Toxicodendron radicans V Fruit
Pokeweed Phytolacca americana P Fruit
Purple cone flower Echinacea spp. P Nectar
Salvias- anise sage, autumn sage, pineapple sage, Mexican bushsage, Texas sage, lyreleaf sage Salvia guaranitica, S. greggii, S. elegans, S. leucantha, S. coccinea P&A Nectar
Silphium, cup-plant Silphium perfoliatum P Seed & leaves hold basins of water
Solomon’s seal & false solomon’s seal Polygonatum biflorum, Smilacina racemosa P Fruit
Sundrops Oenothera tetragona P Nectar
Sunflower Helianthus spp. P&A Seed
Swamp hibiscus Hibiscus coccineus P Nectar
Trumpet creeper Campsis radicans V Nectar
Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia V Fruit

Note-Some bird’s diets are more detailed than others due to research available

Common Name Scientific Name Diet
American gold finch Carduelis tristis Hulled sunflower, niger,suet. White ash, box elder, American elm, American hop hornbeam, red mulberry, most pine, sweet gum, osage orange, grape, sunflower, rose, silphium, and serviceberry.
American robin Turdus mirgatorius Insects, spiders, worms, most berries -chokeberry, wild grapes, crabapple
Blue jay Cyanocitta cristata Black oil, hulled sunflower, nuts. Other bird’s eggs, fruit, nutmeats, acorns, insects
Brown Thrasher   State bird Orpheus rufus Suet, black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, nutmeats, fruit. Red chokeberry, flowering dogwood, cedar, Southern magnolia, red mulberry, Southern wax myrtle, black gum, pines, black cherry, devil’s walking stick, serviceberry, holly, juniper, Virginia creeper, pokeberry, wild plum, and blueberry. Also, insects, worms, spiders, small amphibians, caterpillars.
Brown-headed nuthatch Sitta pusilla Black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, striped sunflower seed, safflower seed, niger (thistle), suet, nutmeats, fruit, shelled peanuts. Mostly pine seed, but also maple, oak, beech, hickory, insects, spiders.
Carolina Chickadee Poecile carolinensis Sunflower, niger, safflower, suet. Maple, sweet gum, pines, elm, sunflower, insects.
Carolina wren Thryothorus ludovicianus Insects, Bird Cakes, Mealworms, suet, niger. Sweet gum, pine, oak, and osage orange.
Dark eyed junco Junco hyemalis Seed mix, hulled sunflower. A wide variety of seeds. Also, insects, spiders,
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis Shelled peanuts, cracked nutmeats, suet, raisins, currants, hulled sunflower chips, and live mealworms. Red chokeberry, flowering dogwood, hackberry, common persimmon, red cedar, crabapple, red mulberry, Southern wax myrtle, black gum, black cherry, sassafras, huckleberry, devil’s walking stick, strawberry bush, holly, juniper, Virginia creeper, pokeweed, sumac, rose, blackberry, elderberry, grapes, blueberry, and viburnum. Also, insects, spiders, caterpillars.
Eastern screech owl Otus asio Voles, mice, large insects, crayfish, earthworms, and other vertebrates
Field sparrow Spizella pusilla Insects, spiders, grass seeds
House finch Carpodacus mexicanus Introduced in 1940. Hulled sunflower, safflower, grasses, and ‘weed’ seeds, berries
Mourning dove Zenaida macroura Seed Mix, Hulled Sunflower. Variety of seeds, waste grain, fruit, insects
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower. Maple, ironwood, hackberry, fringetree, flowering dogwood, hawthorn, ash, huckleberry, sweet gum, Southern magnolia, red mulberry, hop hornbeam, pine, black cherry, aralia, sunflower, firebush, lantana, rose, and blackberry. Also, grass seed, waste grain, ‘weeds’. Also, insects, spiders, caterpillars.
Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos Suet, peanut butter, nutmeats, fruit. Hackberry, mulberry, flowering dogwood, elderberry, sumac, and serviceberry. Also, spiders, insects.
Red bellied woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus Suet, hulled sunflower, sugar water. Pine, oak, red mulberry, flowering dogwood, maple, crabapple, black gum, American beech, American elm, bayberry, elderberry, sunflower, holly, Virginia creeper, pokeweed, grape, and blueberry. Also, insects, other small mammals & reptiles & bird eggs.
Ruby Throated hummingbird Archilochus colubris Nectar, sugar. water flowering maple, scarlet sage, anise sage, pineapple sage, coral honeysuckle, trumpet vine, cardinal flower, lantana, cross vine, Mexican sage, bleeding heart vine, Carolina jessamine, hibiscus, azaleas. Also, small insects.
Song sparrow Melospiza melodia Most seeds, grains, grass, berries and on some occasions insects
Summer tanager Piranga rubra Fruit, suet, sugar water. Black gum, flowering dogwood, red mulberry, blackberry, black cherry, elderberry, muscadine grape, and pokeweed. Also, many flying insects, especially bees & wasps.
Scarlet tanager Piranga olivacea Fruit, suet, sugar water. Same as Scarlet Tanager plus black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, pecan meats, peanut hearts, and sugarwater. Red mulberry, black cherry, serviceberry, blackberry, sparkleberry, and grape. Also, many flying insects, especially bees & wasps.
Tufted titmouse Baeolophus bicolor Black oil sunflower, suet. American beech, crabapple, red mulberry, black gum, hackberry, oaks, blackberry, elderberry, serviceberry, Virginia creeper, and grape. A variety of insects and other invertebrates.
White breasted nuthatch Sitta carolinensis Black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, striped sunflower seed, safflower seed, niger (thistle), suet, nutmeats, fruit, shelled peanuts. Mostly pine seed, but also maple, oak, beech, hickory, insects, spiders.
Yellow-rumped warbler Dendroica coronata A variety of insects and berries. An opportunistic feeder.

The following websites were a great resource of information:
http://www.abcbirds.org/index.htm -American Bird Conservancy
http://www.nsis.org – Your Florida Backyard
http://www.for-wild.org – Wild Ones-Native Plants, Natural Landscapes
http://www.enature.com/ – eNature.com
http://www.audubon.org/ – National Audubon Society
http://www.wildlifehabitatdesign.com/ – Wildlife Habitat Design

A Bit of Dirt – Summer 2007

The full pdf copy of this edition is available here.


By Glenn Parsons

Hello Master Gardeners and Friends, As I am sitting here writing this message, the annual plant sale is just one week away. Many of you have put several tedious hours into planning, digging and potting plants, making yard-art items, and a host of other jobs in preparation for this event. By the time you read this, the plant sale will be over and hopefully we will all be pleased with our success. As always, I have been very impressed with the dedication and hard work by many members of our group.

I have spoken with many of you over the past few weeks and our conversations seem to always touch on the lack of rainfall. All things considered, it appears we gardeners are in for a very dry and hot summer. Since the development of Gwinnett County continues to surge and the fact the good old Chattahoochee is not getting any larger, it is certain that some serious water shortage issues are on the horizon. We should probably keep this in mind when we make suggestions to homeowners about how to plant/manage their yards and gardens. For Master Gardeners who do not have  timed sprinkler systems, we may have to serve more regular coffee at our meetings in support of those who have stayed up all night watering! The  phase 2 watering ban will definitely bring out some of our night owls.

On a brighter note, I want to thank all of you who find the time to attend our monthly meetings. We have averaged about 60 attendees per  meeting, which is very commendable. Much effort has gone into seeking out interesting and informative guest speakers. And as usual, the food is always first class. So keep coming and bring a friend. Don’t forget to bring a covered dish. Have a great gardening summer.

Other articles in this issue:
Bringing Home The Birds – By Shannon Pable
What is a Xeriscape? – By Gail Gerlitz
Home Plant Propagation From Cuttings – By Dan Willis