When wild birds land on your bird feeders and start eating, they drop seeds to the ground. These seeds can grow into different plants, including weeds. Here are some methods you can take to stop birdseed weeds from happening. The surprise appearance of the herb prompted BBC Gardeners' World expert Anne Swithinbank to remind viewers of the plant's illegality. Providing food for the birds needs to be done with sterilized bird food.
Stop Birdseed Weeds From Happening
Using bird feeders is the most common way for people to attract different species of birds to their backyards. However, according to the Invasive Plant Science and Management study, you can face some unintended consequences.
Most birdseed mixes contain seeds that grow into troublesome weeds. Let’s discuss how to stop weeds caused by bird seeds.
How to Stop Weeds Caused by Birdseed?
When wild birds land on your bird feeders and start eating, they drop seeds to the ground. These seeds can grow into different plants, including weeds. Consider using the following methods to stop it from happening.
Use Sterilize Seeds
Sterilizing seeds refer to the practice of heating bird seeds so that they can’t sprout. Some people believe that it also affects the nutritional value of bird seeds, but no scientific evidence backs that claim.
Nyjer seed is probably the only type of seed that manufacturers do sterilize before selling. However, you can sterilize all types of seeds at your home. All you need to do is place the bag of your seeds into the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour.
You can also place your bird seeds into the microwave for about 5 to 8 minutes for the same purpose.
Buy High-Quality Birdseed Mixes
The cheaper the birdseed mix, the higher the filler seeds quantity. Therefore, it’s advisable to buy high-quality birdseed mixes that don’t contain any filler seeds that will grow into weeds.
Additionally, most birds also don’t like filler seeds and drop them to the ground. These discarded seeds are likely to sprout in your backyard.
Most wild birds like to avoid milo seeds. If they have other options available, they’ll just throw milo away on the ground. The same is the case with canary, wild buckwheat, and rapeseeds.
These are extremely cheap seeds, and manufacturers use them to sell their birdseed mixes at low prices.
Use Fresh Birdseed
Using fresh birdseeds also means that there will be fewer discarded seeds. Birds will eat most of them, allowing fewer seeds to sprout.
It’s also important to buy seeds that your birds can finish during a single season. It’s not advisable to use old seeds because they can breed mold and bacteria buildup.
Use No-Mess Seeds
You can buy birdseed mixes that come with no-waste on no-mess seeds. These mixes mostly contain nuts, dried fruits, cracked corn, peanut pieces, broken or hulled sunflower chips, hulled white millet, and sunflower seeds without hulls.
Most birds like to eat these seeds, and they also don’t sprout.
Install A Seed Catcher
Installing seed catchers under your bird feeder is another great way to stop weeds caused by bird seeds. You can buy stylish seed catchers to keep the seeds from reaching the ground.
Use the Right Feeder for Each Seed Type
Backyard birds such as nuthatches, titmice, and chickadees usually don’t eat any other food if sunflower seed is available. You can use these seeds in a tube bird feeder that comes with small ports. Birds will hammer each seed open to eat the kernel, and fewer seeds will be spilled.
Make the Ground Easy to Clean
You can make some changes to your landscape as well. You can add some flagstones or pavers under your bird feeders. It’ll prevent bird seeds from reaching the soil to sprout.
Keep Your Landscape Clean
Keeping your outdoor area clean is one of the most effective ways to stop weeds caused by bird seeds. Make a habit of cleaning spilled seeds and hulls before they can germinate.
You can also buy a high-quality outdoor vacuum cleaner to perform this task easily and quickly.
Do Bird Seeds Cause Weeds?
Yes, bird seeds can cause weeds.
According to a Cambridge study, researchers studied 98 different commercially found products, and 96 percent of them had weed seeds. Most interestingly, there were 29 different weed species used in those products.
So, most commercial birdseed mixes contain seeds that can grow into weeds, including water hemp, amaranth, wild buckwheat, foxtail, common ragweed, Kochia, and some pigweed species.x
What Kind of Plants Grow from Birdseed?
Different kinds of plants can grow from birdseeds.
The type of plants that can grow from bird seeds depends upon the seeds your birdseed mix contains. The most common are sunflower and safflower. However, most birdseed mixes contain filler seed species, including sorghum and millet, and they will grow into weeds.
How Do You Kill Birdseed Weeds?
You can kill birdseed weeds using multiple methods.
The most obvious way is to use your hand to pull the birdseed weeds out. Make sure that you wear safety equipment like gardening gloves.
You can also use old newspapers to cover birdseed weeds. It’ll keep weeds from getting sunlight, and they’ll die off. Pouring some boiling water over birdseed weeds is also an effective way to kill them.
The most effective way is to use mulch to keep bird seeds from contacting the soil. It’ll also keep the underground weed seeds from getting sunlight, and they won’t sprout.
How Do I Get Rid of Birdseed Sprouts?
You can use the heating method to get rid of birdseed sprouts.
Sterilizing birdseeds prevents them from germinating. You can place your bird seeds in an oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. You can also sterilize them in the microwave for about 5 to 8 minutes to achieve the same results.
What Birdseed Does Not Germinate?
There are multiple types of bird seeds that don’t germinate.
Sunflower chips are the most commonly used type of bird seeds that don’t germinate. They’re hulled and chopped sunflower seeds that can’t sprout.
Cracked corn is also a common birdseed type that doesn’t germinate because it’s cut down into small pieces.
Nyjer thistle is small birdseed that attracts a range of bird species. These seeds are usually heated and don’t sprout.
Bird feeding can really be a fun and calming activity as long as we protect our backyard from unwanted bird seed weed growth, and the squirrels these bird seeds attract. Wait! Squirrels?
Do not fret. Here are some ways to build a squirrel-proof bird feeder to your lawns.
Cannabis plant grows from man’s wild bird seed mix
Wild bird seed can cause illegal cannabis plants to grow in your garden, a BBC Gardeners’ World expert has warned readers of the programme’s magazine.
Barry Thorp sent in an image asking for identification of a mysterious plant in his garden and was immediately warned to destroy it as soon as possible. According to The Telegraph, the September 2019 issue of the magazine contains an email from Barry who sent a picture of the plant and asked: “Can you identify this mystery plant from my garden?”.
Cannabis can germinate from bird seed. It is illegal to grow (Brian Shamblen / publicdomainpictures.net; Kevin Casper / flickr.com).
Responding in the Gardeners’ Question Time section, Anne Swithinbank identified it as hemp and pointed out it is illegal to grow cannabis at home. She advised Barry to destroy it immediately – but warned against burning it.
Her answer read: “It looks like hemp (Cannabis sativa). It is, of course, illegal to grow and probably germinated from bird seed. Although it has obviously thrived in the warm summer, you had better destroy it. It is safe to put on the compost heap but I would advise against a bonfire.”
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticulturist, told The Telegraph: “Yes, this is a Cannabis sativa plant. It is illegal to possess/cultivate it in the UK without a special licence. Some legal cultivation is allowed under licence both for pharmaceutical use and, using low cannaboid content cultivars, for seed, oil and fibre.
“Denatured hemp seed is offered for bird food and viable hemp seed an occasional contaminant and may well have spread via this route. Plants should be destroyed to avoid potential prosecution.”
How cannabis seeds in bird feed may threaten growers’ crops
Have you ever considered what seeds you are feeding the birds in your beautiful bird feeder that hangs at the end of your garden? Some of those seeds could be compromising the four plants that you can grow legally for yourself, and here we’re going to help you out by explaining why.
What seeds are you feeding the birds?
Next time you buy your birdseed, check on the types of ingredients that make up that premium bag of feed. A favourite seed of many birds is the hemp seed. Although not a seed, it is a nut. It’s high in fat content, which is why this seed is extremely attractive to the bird’s taste palate. Birdseed producers add to the seed mix. Non-viable heat-treated hemp seed is inserted into the birdseed mix. The issue is that not all of the seeds get the full treatment to deactivate them.
So although your intentions were good in filling that bird seeder for the different birds in your neighbourhood, your carefully planted cannabis plants have perhaps been compromised by the cannabis seeds in the bird food. The cannabis seeds are not the only seeds that will sprout from the birds discarded the seeds while eating. Some of the seeds that grow from the wild bird seed can produce a hemp plant.
Male plants will adversely affect the four female plants you have carefully grown. The male plant pollinates the female plant and thus results in the abundance of seeds, which turns your plant into a hermaphrodite. Your wild bird food is perhaps not a good thing for the cannabis farmer.
All growers look for the best and high THC content from their plants, so planting the female is of utter importance. The plants that have grown from the bird food sprouting will not be an enjoyable smoking experience. THC levels will be too low.
How to prevent your bird seed from sprouting
There is not much you can do about your neighbor’s bird feeders. However, there are means to help stop the bird feeders that you have around your yard from contributing to stray males in the neighbourhood. To prevent sprouting of the birdseed, you need to sterilize the birdseed. You can microwave or bake the seeds to help achieve this.
Sterilizing wild bird seed
- Cookie sheet
- Airtight glass storage jar
Place the evenly spread birdseed on the cookie sheet.
Put the seed in an oven that’s been preheated to 140 F for 9 minutes.
Remove the seed from the oven, and then let them cool before you store in a dry airtight glass jar.
The microwave method
- Paper bag
- Airtight glass jar
Place the birdseed in a paper bag and in a microwave on high for 6 minutes.
Remove from bag allow the seed to cool and then store it in an airtight glass jar.
Sprouting is not the only means that male cannabis plants can be in your neighbourhood. Bird planters throughout the neighbourhood feed the birds, and the birds will do as they wish as they dispel the seeds. These plants germinate, and soon you could be contributing to the abundance of male plants that are now doing the same thing, by sprouting and affecting your female plants.
So, although everything in nature deserves to grow just like the weed plant, perhaps providing food for the birds needs to be done with sterilized bird food.
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