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 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.

Meet the 3 types of goldfinches in the United States.

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.

Check out 25 small yellow birds you should know.

goldfinch zinniaCourtesy Savita D’agostino


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

Pine siskin vs goldfinch: Here’s how to tell the difference.

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!

Next, don’t miss 20 super pretty pictures of finches.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.