Zinnias are among my favorite plants. Whenever I plant them, I cannot help but recall pleasant memories of planting them as a child many years ago. Now that I am a wildlife gardener, I am fond of them because the add beauty to my yard and are great wildlife plants too. With that in mind, my wife and I are preparing to plant zinnias for the first time this year. That’s right I said for the first time because my wife and I plant zinnias multiple times a year.
We plant patches of zinnias in our gardens as well as in large planters. The crop we are planting now will begin producing flowers in sixty to seventy days. Once the plants bloom, we prolong the time they bloom by deadheading spent blossoms. By planting zinnias once week for several weeks, we are ensuring that we will enjoy zinnia blossoms and our wildlife neighbors will have access to the food they provide well into the fall.
My wife and I have had the best luck attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and our nectar feeders using single-flowered varieties. They provide hummingbirds easy access to the plant’s nectar. In addition, many butterflies seem to prefer feeding on the relatively flat surface offered by the flat landing area found on the blooms of old fashion varieties.
While butterflies visit zinnias for their nectar, hummingbirds also eat the tiny insects often found on zinnia blooms. In fact, it has been suggested they visit zinnias as much for the protein provided by insects as they do nectar.
My wife and I also enjoy watching American goldfinches visit our zinnias during the summer. The birds spend day after day pulling the petals off zinnia flowers to reach the seeds found at base of the petals.
I think it is great that zinnias enhance by backyard wildlife viewing opportunities by attracting hummingbirds, scores of butterflies and American goldfinches.
I hope you will plant them in your garden this year. If you do, I will be surprised if they do not offer you some great wildlife viewing too.