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Audubon® Great Lakes Sand Cherry
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Biologists have discovered that songbirds require enormous numbers of caterpillars for each brood of chicks they raise. One study monitored a pair of Carolina chickadees who brought 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to their nestlings! Where do all these caterpillars come from? Largely, they’re reared on native Oaks, Willows, and Cherries. Sand Cherry is one American Accent you can plant to support caterpillars, and therefore, songbirds. Even if you don’t have room for a tree, you can still do a solid for wildlife by planting one or more of these lovely shrubs on your property. Sand Cherry’s sour little fruits will be a hit with birds, too!
May Benefit & Attract: Chickadees
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 2-8
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At home where summers are cool and winters are downright brutal, this species is most often spotted in the wild in Canada, the Upper Plains States, the Upper Midwest, and New England. It favors light (sandy), dry soils in sunny sites. Besides serving as a stellar caterpillar host plant, Sand Cherry is also a delight for pollinators when the sweet white flowers open in spring. The blooms appeal to bumblebees, miner bees, sweat bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and skippers. In late summer, the purple-black fruits attract bluebirds, cardinals, cedar waxwings, catbirds, and kingbirds, among others.
At any garden center in the North, you’re likely to find Purple Sand Cherry for sale. This purple-leaved hybrid has the native Sand Cherry as one of the parents. While the Purple Sand Cherry is also a pretty plant, it is not as beneficial to wildlife. Studies have shown that insects tend to shun purple leaves. To support beneficial bugs and birds, choose the native green Sand Cherry!
How to Grow
Plant your Sand Cherry in full sun if possible; light shade will also suffice, but isn’t ideal. Irrigate regularly during the establishment period (the first summer); after that, the plant will be happy with little or no supplemental water. In rich, moist soils, Sand Cherry will grow larger than usual. It is adapted to poor, dry sites, where its habit is typically stunted. Constantly wet soils should be avoided for this species and for Cherries in general. Sand Cherry expands laterally by rhizomes (rootlike underground stems). Plant it where it has some room to spread out.
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