Goldfinches and plants

tracey_nj6(6)August 29, 2003

Okay, after a few years of waiting impatiently, the goldfinches have finally started eating the seedheads on my purple coneflowers. But, yesterday and today, after visiting the thistle feeder, a few went over and began picking on my oenothera biennis and agastache! I was floored; I didn't expect that. Hopefully my pics will turn out; there were 3 there this morning. What other plants do goldfinches like?

I planted blueberries a few years ago, for the birds. This year too, the robins, mockingbirds and a few cardinals have been frequenting it (for the first time).

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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Goldfinches love the seeds of Agastache. They will also try the seeds from my Zinnias and Blue Salvias. This year I bought a Cup Plant because its seeds are attractive to Goldfinches. The Coneflowers are still the favorites amoung the perrenials, though!

The Annual Sunflowers are totally stripped by Goldfinches, those are a Goldfinch magnet and so easy to grow. They also go heavily for the seedheads of Mexican Sunflowers. Another easily grown annual. Grow it as you would the common annual sunflowers. Its too late this year unless you already have these two in your garden but you should try them both next year. Besides rewarding you with visiting Goldfinches, they are just Beautiful flowers. The Mexican Sunflowers are especially showstoppers. The pictures of the Mexican Sunflower variety 'Tourch' do not do it justice. Everyone that visits the Garden zeros in on them, wanting to know what they are. Another plus is that the Mexican Sunflowers attract Hummingbirds and are EXTREMELY attractive to Butterflies.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 12:02PM
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weaserbug(z5 IA)

I see Goldfinches in my annual Cosmos patch all the time. I didn't expect that when I planted them. It's been a bonus and has made me continue growing them each year.
~Louise in Iowa

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 3:59PM
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Melissa_InTheWoods(z7a MD)

My goldfinches really go for Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) seeds and also Monarda (Bee Balm) seeds.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 4:03PM
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I see Goldfinches on my Chickory and on my tick seed Coreopsis.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 4:34PM
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You're all lucky. I may see one Goldfinch a year in my garden. I grow agastache, purple coneflower and sunflowers.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 9:25PM
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Wow, they really love the agastache! I had 4 gf's on them this morning, and 2 on the oenothera. They only started showing up last year; I've been putting up thistle feeders & socks for about 4 years now, and last year was the first time I saw one at my feeder. But, it was only 2, and more house finches that I could count. This year, I had taken the feeders down, and they started feeding on the coneflowers. That's when I decided to put the feeder back up, and finally, this year, there's more goldfinches than housefinches; they're everywhere - wooooo hooooooo! It's funny though; I bought the agastache from Bluestone, and it mentioned that it was a favorite of butterflies & bees, nothing about goldfinches. I think that's one feature they should add to the description.

As for sunflowers, I can't grow one for the life of me. The dang squirrels always get them before they start maturing, regardless of my homemade baffles. I even purchased one about 2' one year, and they managed to destroy that one as well. It really makes me crazy though; alot of houses in my area have gorgeous 7'+!

I haven't seen one gf on my rudbeckia's or monarda's...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2003 at 1:36PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

We have goldfinches all over the rudbeckia and echinacea, and occasionally on the monarda. Their fave in my yard is Great Plains tickseed (picture a 7' tall coreopsis, basically). They also love the coreopsis verticillata we have - I'll walk by sometimes and have half a dozen burst out. The babies have been especially cute the last few weeks - FEED ME!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2003 at 8:48PM
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plantlust(z5ish IL)

Cupplant or other Silphium spp. Goldfinches and chickadees.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2003 at 11:27PM
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bdot(z7b Cary,NC)

The plant that I have found that the goldfinches like the best is zinnias. They love to pluck out the petals and spit them at me. They'll go for the coreopsis is there are too many goldfinches on the zinnias at the time.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2003 at 3:48PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

I have seen goldfinches on my white Liatris (which is why I'm not deadheading it!). I love watching the stems sway when they feed from it, holding on for dear life :-)

They also love my agastache, cosmos, and sunflowers.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2003 at 9:04AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

I also see goldfinches on the Bachelor Buttons (centaurea cyanis) all the time...


    Bookmark   September 3, 2003 at 10:38AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

This year I have planted Golden Giant Grain Amaranth and the Goldfinches like to eat the seeds. They also eat the seeds of the annual sunflowers and the Mexican Sunflowers back there were the Amaranth is.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2003 at 7:08PM
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I agree with all of the above. I am learning to leave most plants with seed heads in my perennial garden over the winter so the birds can find seeds later in the season. (I used to clean up everything before winter but now I have an excuse to leave things standing. The birds certainly seem appreciative.)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2003 at 9:30AM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

I've seen goldfinches eat the seeds of annual sunflowers, agastaches, penstemons, salvias, echinaceas and rudbeckias. The sunflowers and echinaceas seem to be their favorites.

The pine siskins tend to love the same plants with similar preferences. Echinaceas keep their seeds well in the winter and are an especially good winter feeding flower.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2003 at 1:44PM
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TennSherri(z6 NashTN)

The giant thistles in the field across from my house always seem to have goldfinches on them in the summer so you could try those.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2003 at 4:58PM
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I know I'm really a nut because I let the dandelions go to seed just to watch the goldfinches eat them. I dig them out of my flower beds but keep them in the lawn. From far away, they look like daffodils that have naturalized.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2003 at 11:56AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The goldfinches have deserted me around here. I leave all the seedheads of all the grasses and flowers such as Purple Coneflowers so they have natural food to eat thru the winter. But I think that the seeds are mostly gone by now and there is still so much cold winter left to go. Too much snow, also.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 5:39PM
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Rita: Yesterday as I sat in class, I saw some goldfinches eating crabapples. I wonder if their diet is mostly fruit right now and that is one reason we aren't seeing them. They look pretty dull right now. From far away, I'm not sure I would've known they were goldfinches.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2004 at 8:17PM
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I have between 2 and 6 goldfinches at my thistle feeder every day. I think there was a week not too long ago that I didn't see any. I think they were trying to tell me to give them some fresh thistle, because they were back that day! I didn't know they were fruit eaters; I'd love to put out an apple or two, but Dork & Gimp, the resident Grand Pubahs of my squirrels, would devour them before anyone else got to them...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 2:57PM
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I may be wrong, but I think a lot of birds switch to fruit in the winter. I thought I read it is because of the high sugar content.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 7:11PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Goldfinches have been thick this Spring at my upside down Thistle feeder. I noticed the seeds of all types of things, such as my grasses, Purple Coneflowers, sunflowers and such were almost totally eaten this past winter. Years past I had had more seeds left come spring cleanup time. But I have more birds around now with all my garden improvement plantings.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 7:12PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

So far the Goldfinches have had to make do with the Thistle feeder as the plants they like have not flowered yet. Still, the first of the Sunflowers is blooming and the Purple Coneflowers are starting so there will be plenty of 'natural' seeds soon for them to eat.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2004 at 8:26PM
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andreap(z7 NC)

The goldfinches around here eat the buds or flowers before they even go to seed. What is that all about? Anyway, they like my tall coreopsis and brazilian verbena the best. And they let the globe thistle and echinacea seed itself all over the place!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 1:38PM
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judiCO(z5 CO)

I see a couple beautiful gold finches at the feeder one or two times a week. I'm sure they're there more often than that, but I probably just miss them. We have a lot of house finch and some yellow with dark wings - the females almost look green at times. I don't know what those are called.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 8:08PM
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Wow, this thread is still going! I finally beat the squirrels; I had winter sown a few sunflowers. While they were growing taller and taller every day, I was afraid to plant them in the ground; I knew the squirrels would get them. I cut up a piece of green wire fencing, creating a cage, about 3' tall. They're awesome!!!!! One came from my birdseed; I transplanted it and it grew to about 5', with a huge head. I also grew "Russian Giant" and "Lemon Queen"; they're huge. The house finches returned and always seem to chase the goldfinches away, but they're flocking to the plants; I love it!
Agastache "Honey Bee Blue"
Oenothera biennis
Tithonia "Sundance"
I even saw one pecking on my buddleia today.
DH saw a few on the Agastache a few weeks ago; even he was impressed.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 1:06AM
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The only time I see them in my yard is when sunflowers bloom in my garden every year.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 12:35PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

My Goldfinches have been around all Summer and early Fall but got really scarce late Fall and so far this Winter. We did get snow on Sunday night and I have been seeing them off and on at the Thistle feeder Monday and today.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2004 at 1:35PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Goldfinches around most of the time this spring. They like the upside down thistle feeder.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 6:33PM
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It must take goldfinches awhile to feel comfortable with a place to stay and feed. I had tried for 3 years to attract them to my feeders with thistle seed socks but it was always devoured by the sparrows. FINALLY - this year I have a pair and even have seen 2 pairs so don't know if they switch off when they come because they most certainly do not share and chase each other off. They have such a sweet song and I love them. Hope to be able to attract more in the future.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 8:21PM
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Goldfinch enjoy a backyard which offers food, water, and shelter. Their favorite plant to dine on are sunflowers. Just make sure you grow the seeded type and not the pollen-free ones. Attached is an article that gives a complete listing of the plants they love to visit most for food.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants goldfinch love

    Bookmark   November 22, 2014 at 12:28PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I was reading some other threads that discuss the foreign species of birds, including house sparrow and starlings. Some birdwatchers suggest limiting the use of feeders, and simply growing plants with seeds, since the non-native birds aren't as adept at finding sustenance among the plants, so this practice will encourage natives. I plan to continue to expand the areas where I have native flowers growing, and allow them to self-seed.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2014 at 10:22AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Another trick I have thought of, for those of us in neighborhoods where it may not be acceptable to leave plants up all winter. Cut down the stalks of all the seed-producing plants, then bundle them together and tie them to a tree or fence post or shepard's hook. That way, it looks purposeful, and also keeps the stalks from being buried under snow. I assume the birds would find them, especially if they were tied near other bird feeders. It might even provide additional cover/protection to allow the birds to feel safer at the feeders. Has anyone tried this?


    Bookmark   March 8, 2015 at 9:29AM
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