Top 10 Plants That Attract American Goldfinches

How to attract american goldfinches

Looking to attract American goldfinches? You’re not alone. The brilliant color and sing-songy voice of the American goldfinch makes it one of the most desirable backyard birds. But the elusiveness of these wild canaries makes them a bit of a challenge to attract. You can, however, create a goldfinch haven by providing the basic needs of food, shelter, and water.

The ideal goldfinch habitat is, of course, a natural one. The more attractive the habitat, the more likely you are to have frequent visitors and nesting pairs. Goldfinches feast almost exclusively on seeds. So the single best way to bring them to your backyards? Fill it with their favorite seed-producing plants. Then you’ll be enjoying their colorful splashes of yellow all year long.

Flowers that Attract American Goldfinches

American goldfinches eating sunflower seedsSome of the favorite flowering plants of the American goldfinch:

Poppies (spring to midsummer)

Marigolds (spring to fall)

Ragwort (spring to fall)

Asclepias (early summer to early fall)

Daisies (early summer to fall)

Coneflowers (early summer to mid-fall)

Asters (midsummer to fall)

Sunflowers (summer to fall)

Cosmos (summer to mid-fall)

Zinnias (summer to late fall)

A little bit of extra planning can ensure your yard has blossoms and the resulting seeds from spring right through the winter, in some climates.

If you’re looking for more recommendations, check out this listing of plants that attract wild birds.

Give Me Shelter!

An American Goldfinch sitting on a tree branchIt is also beneficial to have trees and shrubs in your yard to attract goldfinches. These supplement the American goldfinch diet, and provide safe nesting areas. Many native trees or shrubs attract goldfinches, but here are a few favorites:

Arborvitae offers exceptional shelter within the protective evergreen foliage and yields small seed-bearing cones

Barberry is not only appreciated by the Goldfinch, but has stunning fall coloration

Boxwood has a neat appearance with little maintenance and is evergreen for year-round shelter

Elderberry bloom from late spring to early fall, depending upon the cultivar

A Little Extra Help: Nesting Materials and Feeders

Hanging baskets filled with nesting materials, such as wool or cotton, will encourage nesting pairs to stay. Keep in mind American goldfinches nest later than most other songbirds. Which means it’s best to leave the nesting material up until late summer. American goldfinch sitting on a snow covered birdbath

Backyard feeders are an acceptable alternative for goldfinches if a natural habitat is not an option (or as a supplement if food is in short supply). Thistle seed, a.k.a. Nyjer seed, and black oil sunflower seed are their favorites.

They won’t eat old seed, so make sure it’s not in the feeder for more than 3 weeks at a time. Patience is the key here, as it can sometimes take weeks or months for the birds to discover a new cafe. Goldfinches are somewhat picky about what they eat, but they are not picky about where they eat. They will gladly pick up the fallen seed on the ground or will dine out of a fly-thru or dish-type feeder.

Last But Not Least: Water

Most importantly, don’t forget to keep fresh water available for both drinking and bathing. A clean goldfinch is a happier goldfinch. Though they get a lot of moisture from the seeds they eat, a dependable source of water is a must. Birdbaths with fountains or drippers with their splashing sounds are the most attractive. Live in a place that freezes over the winter? Consider a heated bird bath! There is definitely nothing wrong with pampering these little ones a bit and they are so worth it.

Now sit back and enjoy your beauties!

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  • Reply
    July 5, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I have a gojo to plants in the ground they seem to be doing good, we have had a lot of rain . I do see some leaves turning yellow.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Johanna, keep an eye on it. If it is too much water, it will clear back up shortly. GHS

  • Reply
    Jennifer S
    November 8, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    In my Colorado Springs yard, they cannot resist Bachelor’s Button!

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      October 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      Duly noted! Thanks for adding to the list Jennifer!

  • Reply
    Bob Bailey
    August 19, 2023 at 9:32 am

    3 of my Goldie’s are picking at the leaves of a hanging succulent flower/plant and have been for few weeks( guessing bc of the moisture in the leaves). I’d love to attach a photo but don’t see how. Thanks.

    Aug 19, 2023

    • Reply
      Joy Wood
      August 22, 2023 at 4:49 pm

      Bob, how marvelous! Send a photo to, we’d love to see it.

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