Iron Oak Farm

Feeding Orioles

Iron Oak FarmThe Baltimore Oriole is one of my favorite songbirds. The brilliant orange color is like a flash of sunlight in the sky. Not only are orioles beautiful to look at, they have a lovely twirling song.

Attracting orioles to your yard is fun and easy. We draw orioles in five different ways.

Oriole 18 

Olriole 2

Oriole 10 

1. Oranges
Orioles love oranges. An orange sliced in half, suspended on a nail will keep orioles coming back for more.

Oriole 16 

2. Grape Jelly
Grape jelly is probably the best way to attract orioles. Our orioles always eat the jelly first. I get the convenient squeeze bottles and I just squirt a bit into the dish.

Oriole 6 

3. An Oriole Feeder
Orioles are attracted to the color orange. Many feed stores and garden supply stores sell feeders designed to attract orioles.

You can also purchase oriole food. It’s usually a powder or a concentrate liquid that you mix with water; usually a 1 to 4 ratio. Store-bought oriole food is orange flavored and has added calcium to ensure strong eggshells and healthy chicks. Refrigerate extra syrup.

Oriole 18 

You can also make your own nectar. This recipe will work for hummingbird feeders as well.

Oriole Nectar

1 cup sugar
4 cups water

Boil on the stove top for a few minutes. Let cool and pour into the feeder. Refrigerate extra.

Be sure to keep your feeder clean by washing it at least every week. Change out the syrup every few days, especially during hot weather so it doesn’t spoil.

Oriole 7 

4. Water Source
Orioles love to take baths and ruffle their feathers around in the water. We have a small stream that runs through our yard that the orioles love to splash in. A bird bath would do the same trick.

Oriole 3 

5. Suet Cakes
I found orange flavored suet cakes at a feed store and our orioles went crazy for them. You can also provide regular suet. They won’t devour them like the orange flavored ones, but they will take a taste or two.

Oriole 11 

Jelly and Orange Feeder

A simple open side box structure can provide a convenient feeding station for your orioles.

I made a small house out of scrap wood and drove two long nails through the bottom board; one to hold a halved orange and the other to hold a plastic dish in place for jelly. I painted the roof orange to tell the orioles that food was here!

My mom saw how effective my house was and asked for her own for her birthday. We made hers a little more elaborate.

Oriole 13 

I painted the roof with orange slices and orange blossoms.

Oriole 15 

My husband is a blacksmith so he made some fancy twisted perches ...

Oriole 14 

... and places to drive a half orange on either side.

Oriole 12 

We also cut a hold in the bottom board to fit a small cat dish to fill with jelly.

Here is the plans for my first, more simple Oriole Feeding Station design. By all means add all the frills you like! 

5-inch-by-3/4-inch-by-6-feet treated pine board
1 1/4-inch brad nails
2 - 2-inch nails
2 galvanized screws or eye hook for hanging
Screw driver
2 feet wire
Small plastic dish
Orange acrylic paint
Paint brush

Cut the board into five pieces according to the diagram below.

Olriole 9

Nail the two sides to the top of the floor board driving the nails from the bottom into the ends of the sides. Line up the roof so that the 4 1/4-inch piece fits into the longer piece so the roof is symmetrical. Nail down. Drive two of the longer nails into the floor board, one to hold a halved orange, the other to keep the plastic dish in place. Carefully push the nail through the bottom of the dish. Fix eyehooks or screws to the ends of the roof and attach the wire to hang. Paint the roof orange to advertise that “Oriole food is here!”

Feeding Tips

Oriole 1 

If you’re in northern climates like us, you can start to hang your oriole feeders as early as late April. This will attract migrating orioles coming up from the south.

Keep your feeders filled consistently. If the orioles find the feeder empty, they often move on in search of other food and won’t come back.

Squirrel deterrent

We have a cute little gray squirrel that loves to lap up the grape jelly in our Oriole Feeder. And while I don’t mind feeding the squirrels, I have to save the jelly for our orioles. There are many different cones and various contraptions on the market designed to keep squirrels off of bird feeders.

Growing Lavender From Seed

Iron Oak FarmLavender is notoriously difficult to germinate from seed. But with a few simple steps you can successfully start your own lavender sets and plant a garden’s worth of this fragrant and beautiful herb.


Lavender Bouquet

Lavender seeds 

Step 1. Start Early
Lavender is slow to germinate and takes a few extra steps to get the germination process going. Be prepared to get your seeds planted indoors about three to four months before your predicted planting time for your zone/area. Sometimes this time frame occurs before the garden supply stores start getting in their seed packets and seed starting pots. Gather supplies now for next year.

water dirt

Step 2: Planting
This year we used peat pots to germinate our lavender. They are convenient because the whole pot can be planted in the ground without disturbing the root system. Use a potting soil designed for starting seeds. This mix has a nice blend of peat and vermiculite to retain moisture and keep the soil light.

We fill our pots with soil and then water to set the soil in place. Watering before planting helps to keep small seeds like lavender from being buried too deeply as the dry soil fills with water and settles.

Lavender seeds are very tiny so sprinkle a pinch of seeds in the center of the pot and just lightly fluff the dirt to get the seeds covered and moist.

seed labels

Label the seeds appropriately.

This year we are growing:
French Purple Ribbon by Botanical Interests
English Tall by Botanical Interests
Hidcote Dwarf by Botanical Interests
And a perennial Lavender by Hart Seeds

pots covered

Step 3. Cover the Pots
Place the pots in a waterproof dish or seed tray. If your seed tray comes with a clear plastic cover then place that on top. If not, slide the whole tray into a garbage bag. You want to seal in the moisture until the seeds germinate.

seeds in fridge

Step 4: Make Room in the Fridge
Lavender seeds need a dormancy period of cool temperatures to germinate. The fridge is a perfect place for this to occur. Place the tray in the fridge for three to six weeks. You won’t need to water them because the bag will keep the pots from drying out.


Mark the calendar when the tray is due to come out.

seeds starting

Once the dormancy period is over, remove the seeds from the plastic bag and place in a warm area.

Once the seeds germinate, place them on a sunny, south facing window or under a grow light.

lavender germinate

These seedlings were in the fridge for four weeks and germinated within three days of coming out. They are now getting their second set of leaves.