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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  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021