Leave Coneflowers for Goldfinches

The pink petals on Purple Coneflowers are starting to fade away for the summer. The gold colored seed heads will start to mature and turn dark, as the seed becomes ripe for picking.

The American Goldfinches will soon be sitting atop the seed heads picking away at the seeds. Adult goldfinches are seed eaters; and they love purple coneflower seeds. There’s almost no time I go outside and don’t see them nibbling on the coneflower seeds this time of year.

When things go brown in the garden; many people think it’s time to clip it all away. However, the heads of the purple coneflower are a valuable seed source for the goldfinches during the fall. Usually, they will eat the seeds fairly quickly when they’re ripe during the fall. If you want to clip away all the brown, wait until all the coneflower seeds are gone sometime in winter.

Plus, I think when a bit of snow or frost sits on the brown coneflower heads, it looks pretty cool.

If you’re wondering what types of coneflowers goldfinches will like; it can be difficult to know! They for sure like purple coneflower (echinacea purpurea). I am unsure about other species of echinacea. Pale Purple and Glad Coneflowers are very similar to Purple Coneflower. The goldfinches like to sit on top of the flowers as they eat the seeds. They probably like stems that are going to support their body weight.

As far as coneflower cultivars (like pow-wow, salsa, etc.), it may depend. Some cultivar species may not even produce seeds since they were bred sterile, or the seed quality will be lacking due to the genetics of the cultivar. Many of the cultivars are shorter and are compact. The goldfinches simply may not like a coneflower just based on the structure of it.

If you’d like to attract goldfinches to your yard with coneflower, plant them in a larger mass together. Goldfinches often like to sit together with one another and eat together. Much like us!

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