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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Make A Bird Feeder Planter

Lynn Coulter
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Birdhouses and feeders make charming additions to any garden, and it’s easy to turn a pre-made bird feeder into a colorful planter filled with flowers, foliage or herbs. You can adapt our directions to different models, as long as the one you choose has a place to put plants. Add a sun catcher for sparkle, or use an interesting twig from your yard as a “perch.” Small, weatherproof ornaments like nests or birds can be attached with lightweight wire. When you’re done, you can always add another house or feeder for the real thing – backyard birds!

Skill level: Easy

Time to complete: 1 hour




  • Bird Feeder (You can adapt a different style or use a bird house. Just be sure you can remove the roof or door, or cut a hole in it, so you have a place to put the plants.)
  • Potting soil
  • Small plastic baggies
  • Sheets of sphagnum moss (sold in many Home Depot stores)
  • Small plants
  • Optional: Shepherd’s hook
  • Optional: small, weatherproof ornaments (available at arts and crafts stores) and wire to attach them



1. Decide where to hang your planter, so you’ll know whether to use plants that like sun or shade. Use some trailers, like ivy or trailing petunias, for a natural look.

2. Drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Dampen the sphagnum moss, to make it easier to handle.

3. If your feeder has wire baskets to hold suet cakes (a pre-made type of bird food), like the ones shown here, put on safety eye wear. Then use a slotted screwdriver to remove the center staple holding each basket to the base. Use your hands to gently pull the baskets into a rounded shape to hold the plants.

Cut a small baggie to fit each basket. Put a plant in each baggie, and fill with potting soil. Slip the baggies into the basket. Tuck in sphagnum moss to help hide them.

4. Now you have two choices. Option one is to cut one of the pieces of Plexiglas to make room for  your plants. Option two is to simply remove both pieces of Plexiglas.

Option one: Remove one piece of Plexiglas. Use a hacksaw or other fine-toothed saw to cut it 1/2 to 1/3 of the way down from the top. (Don’t worry if it looks rough. You won’t see it once you add the plants and

moss.) Put the Plexiglas aside. Lay the planter on its side, slightly propped up. This will help keep the soil from spilling out while you work on it. Lay a sheet of damp sphagnum moss over the piece of Plexiglas that is still in place. Add the soil and plants. Cover the plants with more damp moss. Now slip the cut Plexiglas back into place. Tuck more moss around the bottom, to hold in the soil. Turn the planter right side up again.

Option two: Remove both Plexiglas pieces and discard them. Plant your plants in a small plastic pot and sit it inside (where the birdseed would go).

5. Replace the roof. If your plants are too tall, adjust them so they tilt slightly forward. When they’re arranged the way you want, use your fingers to firm the soil around them. Water gently, and put the roof back on. Don’t forget to water the plants in the baskets, too. Tuck in more bits of moss wherever you need camouflage.

If you wish, cover the roof with dampened moss. Hang the planter from a tree or shepherd’s hook, but avoid direct sun. Since the planter is small, it will dry out fast.

Mist the moss regularly to keep it green. Check often and water as needed.

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