Snow may still be on the ground, but by now just about everyone can be thinking about starting some seeds indoors to get ready for spring! I’m no seed-starting expert, so I try to stick to seeds that are easy to start, especially those that will produce flowers that attract butterflies. No matter where you’re located, these five favorites are easy to start indoors from seed and are sure to bring in butterflies when winter finally lets up! (Many of the photos in this post came from our Community members. Click here to see more beautiful butterflies enjoying the flowers listed here.)
Zinnias. Growing zinnias from seeds is very satisfying. They sprout within a couple of days, and flower in just a few weeks. You can start them indoors about 6 weeks before you’ll be ready to transplant outdoors, or direct-sow in your garden after the last frost. Try: Zahara Mix or Profusion Sunrise
Cosmos. Cosmos are another fast bloomer, and they’re great for cutting to bring indoors too. There are two types (C. bipinnatus and C. sulphureus) each available in a variety of colors, so choose the one(s) best suited to your garden. If you’re starting indoors, plant about 6 weeks before your last expected frost. Try: Peppermint Candy or Towering Yellow
Marigolds. This old-fashioned garden standby deserves more attention in butterfly garden. Choose the full double-bloomed varieties for their capability to hold water between the petals, giving thirsty butterflies a great place to stop for a sip as well as some nectar. Start indoors about 8 weeks before you’ll be ready to transplant. Try: Park’s Whopper Mix or Antiqua Hybrid Mix
Salvia. There are hundreds of species of salvia, and most of them are great for attracting butterflies. Choose those native to your area for direct-sowing in spring, or start indoors about 4-6 weeks before transplanting time. Try: Summer Jewel Pink or Fairy Queen
Sunflowers. Many folks grow sunflowers for birds, and are surprised to find butterflies visiting the giant blooms! Sunflowers come in so many heights and sizes now that it’s easy to find one (or more) to suit your garden space, even containers. Start them indoors 2 weeks to give them a chance to sprout, or direct sow fairly deeply so they won’t be eaten by birds or other critters. Try: Sunny Babe or Sunny Smile
Need some tips on growing flowers that attract butterflies from seed? Visit our Community forums and ask other Birds & Blooms fans for advice!