Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Plant a Climbing Hydrangea Vine to Help Protect Birds

Climbing Hydrangea Vine (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) from urbanext.illinois.edu

My climbing hydrangea vine has come a long way in 3 years!
from Grandma Pearl
Vines Provide Birds With:    
  • Food in the form of seeds, berries flowers and nectar, as well as caterpillars and lots of other insects
  • Fragrance, which in turn attracts insects
  • Shelter from bad weather and hot sun
  • Safe Nesting Places
  • Nesting Materials
  • Vantage Points from which to Watch for Approaching Predators
  • Hiding Places from Predators

Climbing Hydrangea Flower Bud
from Grandma Pearl
Climbing Hydrangeas produce fast-growing stems that yield aerial rootlets capable of clinging to almost any surface; this plant is slow to start, but once established it will dazzle you with white lacy blooms and dense green foliage.  Mine has been growing for over 3 years now, and you can see its progress from the 3-foot stick I bought at an Autumn nursery closeout sale!   
A-Frame Shingled Bird House will attract all sorts of songbirds
from Grandma Pearl

This little bird house is mounted on the side of my house among the lovely hydrangea leaves and branches.  It’s just right for most songbirds like chickadees, wrens, sparrows, finches, nuthatches and downy woodpeckers.  This vine will keep the bird house cool and dry while baby birds are growing big and strong.  More than that, it will discourage a whole host of predators from trying to reach the eggs and baby birds.  When it comes time for baby’s first flight, the nearby branches will make great practice landing spots for their first tentative flights.

Climbing Hydrangea Requirements:
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Rich evenly-moist soil, but will tolerate less than perfect soil conditions
  • Thrives in Zones 4-9
  • Use organic mulch to retain moisture
  • Amend with compost as needed
  • If desired, pruning should be done after plant has flowered in the summer
  • Provide a sturdy support for this vine, which can reach 60’ to 80’ tall if left unpruned

 I planted my climbing hydrangea on the east side where it receives about 5 hours of morning sunlight a day.  It's the perfect vine for a shaded area, but it will do very well in full sun, too.  The bark of this plant peels and has an interesting texture; and it can be used by birds to weave into their nests.  In addition to the bark, birds will find shelter and nesting opportunities in this versatile and beautiful long-lived climbing vine.

Detail of bark and leaves of Climbing Hydrangea Vine
from Grandma Pearl
Detail of aerial roots that help the plant to cling to surfaces
from Grandma Pearl
 If you wish to prune the plant, do so after it has flowered in the summertime.  It can grow to be 60 to 80 feet in height, and will live happily in cold hardiness zones 4 - 9.  It's not fussy, but does best in moist, well drained rich organic soil.     Butterflies and beneficial bees are attracted to the fragrant creamy white flowers that remind me of Queen Anne’s lace.  
Be sure to water your hydrangea vine regularly to encourage deep roots and vigorous stem growth.  Use soil that is rich in organic matter to ensure this vine will be healthy and gorgeous for many years to come.  Amend with organic compost as needed, and cover with mulch to retain moisture.  Since I have access to lots of sawdust, this is my preferred mulching medium.        

Although its stems and rootlets grow quickly, the climbing hydrangea is slow to bloom.  The average time before blooms appear is 4 years.  I expect that next summer this clinging mass of green will be loaded with lots of beautiful and fragrant flowers.  If you have an unsightly concrete or stone wall, or a chain link fence you wish to beautify, this might be the vine for you. Your birds, butterflies and beneficial bees will appreciate this excellent plant.
Grandma Pearl

To Purchase a Climbing Hydrangea Vine:

Climbing Hydrangea Vine
Giant Hydrangea Vine

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