While an aviary provides ample space for birds to fly and go about their lives, plants will make it a more natural, realistic environment. Not all plants are suitable for aviaries, though -- some can even be toxic to birds. It's important to incorporate only plants that are bird-friendly. It's also wise to be sure the potting soil or material used to house the plants contains no chemicals or additives that may be harmful to birds.
Choosing Suitable Live Plants
When choosing plants for an aviary, consider their size, care needed and general availability. Many plants commonly found in the wild are suitable for birds, such as dandelion, lemon balm, bamboo, honeysuckle and chamomile. Other commonly sold plants which are bird-friendly include ferns, rubber plants, marigold, jade plants, hibiscus and African violets.
Dried Plants and Fake Plants
Dried plant matter is sometimes suitable for aviaries. Grapevines which are in their natural untreated state can be used for perching or swinging material when placed strategically around the aviary. Dried, untreated bamboo sticks are also suitable for aviaries and can be used as perches. Do not use plant matter that you suspect may be chemically treated, such as some dried plants sold for flower arranging and crafts. Plastic or silk plants are also suitable for aviaries, but keep the foam bases found in arrangements out of the aviary. Always wash fake plants first with mild soap and water.
Where to Find Bird-Friendly Plants
Most garden centres carry common plants that are safe for aviaries. Make a list of at least four or five plant varieties you'd like to use in your aviary, and take it to your local garden centre. Nearly any store carrying plants will have at least some of the items, such as ferns or rubber plants.
Soil and other Concerns with Aviary Plants
To incorporate live plants in an aviary, the plants clearly need something to keep them contained and alive as well -- pots and potting soil, for instance. Some birds will peck at or attempt to eat just about any material they can access, so it's important to make sure there are no chemical fertilisers, styrofoam beads or other potentially hazardous additives in the soil containing aviary plants. If you aren't sure of the potting material, cover it with wood or something else the birds won't chew through, or keep the pot portion out of the cage, leaving only the leaves inside.