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Planting Zinnias For Butterflies

planting zinnias for butterflies - swallowtail

Customer photo Swallowtail on Zinnia.

As soon as summer hits, Zinnias start to open up and show off their bright, bold colors. And with them comes a steady stream of butterflies: Swallowtails, Monarchs, Painted Ladies, and much more. Zinnias are one of the easiest annual wildflowers to grow from seed and one of our favorite plants for attracting butterflies to any garden — big or small. Best of all, planting zinnias for butterflies is easy!

Planting Zinnias For Butterflies: The Best Varieties

Many butterflies are attracted to Zinnias' colorful blooms and will feed on the easy-to-access nectar. And although most Zinnias are attractive to butterflies, if you’re looking to plant the best Zinnias to attract these winged beauties we recommend: 

  1. Classic Zinnias (Zinnia elegans)
    24-36" tall, mixed colors.

  2. Zinnia Purple Prince
    30-40" tall, deep pink/purple blooms.

  3. Zinnia Cut And Come Again Mix
    18-24" tall, mixed colors.

  4. Zinnia Luminosa
    30-40" tall, pink blooms.

  5. Zinnia Mardi Gras Mix
    18-24" tall, purple, gold, and white blooms.

  6. Zinnia Lava Lamp Mix
    18-24" tall, red, orange, and yellow blooms.

Butterflies are most drawn to the taller Zinnia varieties with a clear yellow center, which is the disk floret that provides nectar to pollinators. Some of the double varieties (although spectacular) hide this disk floret, and butterflies may skip over that plant because it's harder for them to find the food as quickly.

planting zinnias for butterflies - monarch

Customer photo Monarch on Zinnia.

Planting Zinnias For Butterflies: Long-Lasting Blooms

One of the main reasons why Zinnias play such an important role in the butterfly garden — besides their easily-accessible nectar — is the fact that they bloom from summer all the way through frost. To help Zinnias put out new blooms all the way through fall, deadhead spent flowers as they turn brown. This keeps the plant from using its energy to go to seed, and instead inspires it to use energy to produce more flowers!

Although nectar-rich perennials are staples of low-maintenance pollinator gardens, adding annuals each season can ensure a supply of long-lasting blooms. Many perennials stick to their specific bloom times and will fade after flowering.

Zinnias are an important late-season nectar source for many butterflies — especially Monarchs on their migration journey. To help provide plenty of nectar for pollinators in the fall garden, plant Zinnias with Aster, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, and Sedum.

planting zinnias for butterflies - monarch

swallowtail on zinnia

planting zinnias for butterflies

Planting Zinnias For Butterflies: A Breeze To Grow

We love Zinnias not only because they bring a parade of butterflies to the garden, but also because they are so easy to grow. This makes them a perfect candidate for a child’s first garden; your little one will appreciate how quickly the seeds germinate, grow, and bloom, and will also have fun watching — and tracking — the different butterflies.

To grow Zinnias, make sure to plant them in an area that gets full sun (at least six hours per day). Although they prefer well-draining soil, they’ll grow almost anywhere as long as they have plenty of sun. They don’t need a lot of supplemental water in the summer months, which makes them a great candidate for hard-to-reach areas or for gardeners who are trying to conserve water. 

zinnias for butterflies - swallowtail

Customer photo Zinnia.

Planting Zinnias For Butterflies: Have Your Camera Ready

Come summer, make sure to have your camera ready when you head out to your Zinnia patch. You’ll have plenty of gorgeous shots to post on social media, but photos are also a great way to track the different species coming to and from your Zinnias. Also, take note of which varieties seem to be attracting more butterflies than others; the great thing about Zinnias is that they are annuals and can be changed up each season!

Have you been snapping photos of butterflies on your Zinnia? Tag @americanmeadows on Instagram to be featured!

Browse Zinnia Seeds

  • Zinnia Seeds

    Starting at $9.95

    Per 1/4 Pound

  • Zinnia Seed Mix

    Starting at $12.95

    Per 1/4 Pound

  • Zinnia Seeds Cut and Come Again Mix

    Starting at $9.95

    Per 1/4 Pound

  • Zinnia Seeds Dahlia Flowered

    Starting at $9.95

    Per 1/4 Pound

  • Zinnia Seeds Lilliput Mix

    Starting at $9.95

    Per 1/4 Pound

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