Berry-producing shrubs are one of the best food sources for birds, particularly in the winter when other natural food sources are scarce. Birds that don’t migrate, such as cardinals, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and thrushes like bluebirds and robins, depend on berries as a winter food source.
Planting a selection of deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen creates a color palette bridging each season. In order to produce berries, deciduous shrubs must flower each spring to soften the garden with white or pastel shades contrasted by the bright green of new growth. Many of these shrubs continue to flower through the summer.
In the mid-Atlantic area, examples of native shrubs that produce fall and winter berries include hollies (winterberry, American, and inkberry), viburnums (arrowwood, nannyberry, possumhaw, and blackhaw), dogwoods (red-osier and silky), northern bayberry, spicebush, and sumac; and trees like Eastern red cedar, and Washington hawthorn.
Check out our Backyards for Nature post “Backyard Nature in Winter“ and the VFAS native plant list for our recommended berry-producing trees and shrubs. Our Backyards for Nature program directors are happy to meet with you if you are considering incorporating more native plants into your landscape in the spring.
National Audubon has a database that you can search by zipcode for plants that are adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions.