Dec 5, 2014 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, December 2014

Don't Cut Evening Primrose!

Do you have evening primroses growing in your yard or garden? Don't deadhead them, and leave the dead stalks in place!
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The seeds of evening primrose can be a valuable food source for birds in cold climates throughout North America. Each flower produces hundreds of seeds, and when the flower dies, it holds on to some and drops others. The stalks of dead evening primrose are "Eat Here" signs to songbirds, marking a likely food source at the base.

Nearly 150 species are in the genus Oenothera, many bearing the name evening primrose. The genus is native to North, Central, and South America. Some species are annuals, some biennials, and some perennials. Evening primrose can be found growing wild, often on disturbed soil, and many varieties can be found in garden stores. They are usually easy to grow, and provide food not only for birds, but also for some varieties of caterpillars, which also provide food for birds.

So, if you have evening primrose growing in your yard or garden, don't deadhead them, and leave the dead stalks in place. And if you don't, winter is a great time to look through garden catalogs and plan your spring planting.

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