Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Prevent Bird Seed From Germinating

By Heather Novak

Backyard bird-watching is a popular hobby and outdoor bird feeders are abundant. A well-stocked bird feeder will attract numerous species of birds to gather where families can enjoy watching them. But along with the peacefulness this pastime can provide, there can be a disadvantage: Birdseed may scatter and germinate, leaving sprouts amid your manicured landscape. Fortunately, this undesirable result can be avoided with a little planning.

Feeding Method

Select a bird feeder that features a tray for catching wayward seeds. Alternatively, a tray attachment can be installed to existing bird feeders not already equipped for catching seeds. The objective here is to keep the seeds from falling to the ground in the first place.

Dispense the birdseed sparingly. Use only an adequate amount of birdseed so that the birds don’t scatter it about. If excess seed is provided, ground-feeding birds will not consume all the seeds and the remaining seeds may sprout.

Remove any residual seeds that have fallen to the ground. Leaving fallen seeds behind may lead to sprouting.

Seed Type

Nyjer seed is sterilized prior to being imported into the United States and is incapable of germinating. However, nyjer seed attracts a limited number of bird species, so other options might be necessary if your goal is to attract a wide variety of birds.

Steer away from inexpensive seed mixes, as birds may avoid brands that contain significant amounts of filler seed.

A common misconception is that germination can be halted in seeds by heating them to high temperatures in an oven or microwave. Not only does this not prevent germination, but it may cause the nutritional value of the seeds to be diminished.


Things You Will Need

  • Bird feeder
  • Birdseed
  • Tray

About the Author


Heather Novak has been writing since 2007 for various websites. Her articles cover topics in real estate, mortgage, personal finance, travel, parenting and home and gardening. Novak holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Georgia State University.