Plants That Grow From Bird Seed: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve ever wondered if plants can grow from the bird seed in your feeder, you’re not alone. Many backyard birders end up with volunteer plants sprouting up under their feeders. The good news is that several bird-friendly plants can grow from spilled or uneaten seed.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Some common plants that can grow from bird seed include sunflowers, millet, amaranth, and cockscomb. The seeds fall from feeders, germinate, and grow into mature plants.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the most common plants that grow from bird seed. We’ll look at which specific seeds produce which plants and provide growing tips to help you cultivate volunteer plants from your bird feeding area.


Sunflowers are a popular choice for gardeners due to their vibrant blooms and ability to attract birds and other wildlife. They are also known for their unique ability to grow from bird seed, making them a versatile and low-maintenance addition to any garden.

There are several varieties of sunflowers that can be grown from bird seed, including black oilseed sunflower seeds and perennial sunflowers.

Black oilseed sunflower seeds

Black oilseed sunflower seeds are a common type of bird seed that can also be used to grow sunflowers. These seeds are small and black with a high oil content, which makes them attractive to a variety of bird species.

When planted, black oilseed sunflower seeds will germinate and produce sunflower plants with large, yellow blooms.

One of the advantages of growing sunflowers from black oilseed sunflower seeds is that they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Many garden centers and online retailers carry bags of bird seed that contain black oilseed sunflower seeds, making it convenient for gardeners to get started.

Perennial sunflowers

In addition to black oilseed sunflowers, there are also perennial sunflowers that can be grown from bird seed. Perennial sunflowers are a great choice for gardeners who want to enjoy the beauty of sunflowers year after year, as they will come back and bloom again each season.

Perennial sunflowers are typically taller and have smaller blooms compared to their annual counterparts. They are known for their hardiness and ability to withstand colder temperatures, making them a great option for gardeners in colder climates.

Some popular varieties of perennial sunflowers include Helianthus angustifolius and Helianthus maximiliani.

Growing perennial sunflowers from bird seed is similar to growing annual sunflowers. The seeds can be planted in well-draining soil in a sunny location, and with proper care and maintenance, they will grow into beautiful sunflower plants.


Millet is a type of bird seed that not only attracts birds but also has the potential to grow into beautiful plants. There are several varieties of millet, each with its own unique characteristics and growing requirements.

In this section, we will explore two common types of millet: common millet and foxtail millet.

Common millet

Common millet, also known as proso millet or hog millet, is a warm-season grass that is widely cultivated for its edible seeds. It is native to Asia but is now grown in many parts of the world. Common millet is a great option for those looking to grow plants from bird seed because it is easy to cultivate and adapts well to different soil types and climates.

When planting common millet, it is important to choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. The seeds can be sown directly into the ground or started indoors and then transplanted. Common millet requires regular watering, especially during dry spells, and should be fertilized every few weeks to promote healthy growth.

Once the plants reach maturity, they produce large clusters of small, round seeds that can be harvested and used for cooking or feeding birds. Common millet is not only a nutritious food source for birds but also adds an interesting texture and visual appeal to gardens and landscapes.

Foxtail millet

Foxtail millet, also known as Italian millet or German millet, is another popular variety of millet that can be grown from bird seed. It is a warm-season annual grass that is native to Asia but is now cultivated in many parts of the world for its nutritious seeds.

Growing foxtail millet requires similar conditions to common millet. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist. Foxtail millet can be sown directly into the ground or started indoors and then transplanted.

One of the advantages of growing foxtail millet is its fast growth rate. It typically reaches maturity in just 60-90 days, making it a great option for those looking for a quick-growing plant. The seeds can be harvested and used for cooking or feeding birds once they have fully ripened.

Both common millet and foxtail millet are versatile plants that can be grown from bird seed. Whether you want to attract birds to your garden or simply add some unique and interesting plants to your landscape, millet is a great choice.

So why not give it a try and see what beautiful plants you can grow from bird seed?


Amaranth is a versatile plant that can be grown from bird seed. It belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and is commonly known as pigweed or love-lies-bleeding. With its vibrant red or purple flowers and edible leaves, amaranth is not only a beautiful addition to your garden, but it also offers numerous health benefits.

Planting and Care

Growing amaranth from bird seed is relatively easy. Begin by selecting a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Scatter the bird seed in the desired area and lightly rake the soil to cover the seeds. Water the area gently to keep the soil moist but not soaked.

Within a few weeks, you should start to see tiny amaranth seedlings emerging.

Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in warm weather, so it’s important to make sure the soil stays moist during hot summer months. Regular watering and occasional weeding will help your amaranth plants grow strong and healthy.

They can reach a height of 6 to 8 feet, so it’s best to provide some support, such as stakes or trellises, to prevent them from toppling over.

Edible Leaves and Seeds

One of the great things about amaranth is that both its leaves and seeds are edible. The leaves can be harvested when they are young and tender, typically around 30 to 40 days after planting. They can be used raw in salads or cooked as a nutritious side dish.

Amaranth leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and protein.

The seeds of the amaranth plant are small, round, and packed with nutrients. They are gluten-free and can be ground into flour, used as a topping for salads and cereals, or even popped like popcorn. Amaranth seeds are a great source of protein, dietary fiber, and essential amino acids.

Health Benefits

Amaranth is considered a superfood due to its impressive nutritional profile. It is rich in antioxidants, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and chronic diseases. The plant is also a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Studies have shown that amaranth may have potential health benefits, including reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and supporting heart health. It is also known to have a positive impact on blood sugar control and may be beneficial for individuals with diabetes.

It’s important to note that while amaranth is generally safe for consumption, some people may have allergies or sensitivities to it. As with any new food, it’s best to start with small amounts and monitor your body’s response.

For more information on amaranth and its benefits, you can visit Healthline or Medical News Today.


Cockscomb, also known as Celosia cristata, is a unique and vibrant plant that can be grown from bird seed. This ornamental plant gets its name from its resemblance to the comb of a rooster. The brightly colored, crested flower heads make it a popular choice for adding a pop of color to gardens and flower arrangements.

Growing Cockscomb from Bird Seed

Cockscomb seeds can be found in bird seed mixes, making it an interesting and affordable option for home gardeners. Here is a step-by-step guide to growing cockscomb from bird seed:

  1. Start by selecting a sunny location in your garden. Cockscomb thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil and add organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
  3. Scatter the bird seed over the prepared soil, making sure to space the seeds evenly.
  4. Lightly press the seeds into the soil, but do not cover them completely. Cockscomb seeds need light to germinate.
  5. Water the seeds gently to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting.
  6. Within a couple of weeks, you should start to see the seedlings emerge. Keep the soil consistently moist during this time.
  7. Once the seedlings have grown a few inches tall, thin them out to give each plant enough space to grow. Remove the weaker seedlings, leaving only the strongest ones.
  8. Continue to water the plants regularly and provide support, if needed, as they grow taller.
  9. In about 10 to 12 weeks, the cockscomb plants will start to produce their vibrant, crested flowers. Enjoy their beauty and consider saving some seeds for future plantings!

Tips for Growing Healthy Cockscomb Plants

To ensure the success of your cockscomb plants, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Provide adequate sunlight: Cockscomb plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.
  • Water properly: While cockscomb plants prefer moist soil, they can be susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Water deeply and allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Feed regularly: Apply a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms.
  • Deadhead spent flowers: Removing faded blooms will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.
  • Protect from pests: Cockscomb plants can be susceptible to aphids, snails, and slugs. Monitor for pests and take appropriate measures to control them.

By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow and enjoy the beauty of cockscomb plants in your garden. Get creative with their unique blooms and add a touch of whimsy to your outdoor space!

Other Common Bird Seed Plants


Sorghum is a popular grain that is not only a favorite among birds but also commonly used in livestock feed. It is a versatile plant that can adapt to different climates and soil conditions, making it an ideal choice for birdseed.

Sorghum seeds are rich in carbohydrates, providing energy for birds, especially during colder months when food sources may be limited. Birds such as finches, sparrows, and doves are particularly fond of sorghum seeds.

According to a study conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, sorghum is an important food source for many bird species, providing them with essential nutrients to support their health and well-being.

Additionally, sorghum is known for its drought-resistant properties, making it a reliable food source even in dry conditions.


Nyjer, also known as thistle seed, is a tiny black seed that is highly favored by finches, particularly the American goldfinch. These small seeds are packed with essential oils, proteins, and fats, making them a nutrient-dense option for birds.

Nyjer seeds are often used in specialized bird feeders with small openings to accommodate the tiny size of these seeds.

A study published in the Journal of Avian Biology found that nyjer seeds were the preferred food source for American goldfinches, attracting the highest number of individuals compared to other birdseed varieties.

The study also revealed that nyjer seeds provided birds with a higher energy intake, allowing them to sustain their activities throughout the day.

It is important to note that nyjer seeds can be expensive compared to other birdseed options. However, their high nutritional value and attractiveness to finches make them a worthwhile investment for bird enthusiasts who want to attract these colorful birds to their gardens.


Bird seed can produce a surprising variety of volunteer plants. Sunflowers, millet, amaranth, and cockscomb are just a few that can sprout from spilled seed under feeders. With a little knowledge of which seeds produce which plants, you can cultivate some bird-friendly flowers and foliage from your feeding area.

If you end up with mystery plants growing from your bird seed, watch them develop and bloom to identify them. Then encourage your favorite volunteers by scattering more of that seed. Your feathered friends will thank you for the food and shelter these bird seed plants can provide.

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