Plant a Goldfinch Garden With Their Favorite Plants

With the right plants, your backyard can become a goldfinch sanctuary. Here's the garden plants and flowers goldfinches love most.

Goldfinches are primarily seed eating birds that regularly visit bird feeders for Nyjer (thistle) and sunflower seed. However, you can also attract these birds by planting their favorite plants in your yard. As a bonus, you get to watch goldfinches show off their acrobatic abilities as they flit through the garden, landing and swaying on flowers. Here’s the plants you need in your goldfinch garden.

goldfinch on sunflowersCourtesy Tony Newton

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are one of the best plants for attracting goldfinches, because sunflower seeds are one of their favorite foods! Leaving spent flower heads in place is a wonderful thing to do for wildlife. This is particularly true for sunflowers and other blooms in the daisy family. These flowers produce numerous seeds that attract finches, buntings, native sparrows and others, serving as natural bird feeders for as long as the seeds last.

zinnia on coneflowerCourtesy Joan Addis
American goldfinches love to eat coneflower seeds

Purple Coneflowers

Grow native plants for the goldfinches and other seed-eating birds. Purple coneflowers are popular plants that are easy to grow and easy to find at any garden center. Photographer Marie Read says she also notices the finches on her Joe Pye weed and cup plant. Green-headed (aka cutleaf) coneflower is a good wildflower to plant for seed-eaters.

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goldfinch on thistle Courtesy Pete Leege

Thistle Plants

Goldfinches need plants for more than their seeds. Goldfinches like to eat thistle seeds, and they also gather nesting material from the plants. This is one of the reason the birds are late nesters. Make sure to avoid invasive thistle varieties. Try natives like field thistle, Flogman’s thistle and wavyleaf thistle.

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goldfinch zinniaCourtesy Savita D’agostino

Zinnias

Goldfinches perch on zinnias’ sturdy stems to eat the flowers’ seeds. Zinnias are colorful fast-growing annuals that anyone can grow.

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milkweedCourtesy Melody Mickelson
Milkweed in autumn opening to release its seeds

Milkweeds and Dandelions

Milkweeds, dandelions and cattails provide fluffy nest-building material. You’re probably already planting milkweed for monarch butterflies, but now you have another reason to add it to your garden!

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for pollinators in her backyard gardens. She also is an avid bird-watcher.