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Do Butterflies Like Zinnias?

Written By Sara Sabharwal


Do Butterflies Like Zinnias

Bright and bold zinnias are the perfect addition to your garden this season. With a long bloom time, these fun-colored flowers add pops of colour. But, do butterflies like zinnias as much as you do?

Thanks to their attractive colours and the easy access to nectar, butterflies do like zinnias. Zinnias bloom from summer until the first frost, creating ample opportunities for butterflies to feast. 

What Else Do Zinnias Attract?

Thanks to their ability to bloom in various colours, you can choose zinnias that will attract almost any pollinator you are hoping for.

Bees, hoverflies and butterflies see colours much differently than humans do. In fact, they can even see things that we cannot. 

Hoverfly on an Orange Zinnia

Bees and butterflies can see ultraviolet rays and colours and use this to their advantage while searching for plants full of nectar.

It is commonly said that bees have a favourite colour called “bee purple” which isn’t purple at all but instead yellow mixed with ultraviolet!

It is thought that bees and butterflies use ultraviolet light to find and access pollen and nectar on a level that humans simply can not. Perhaps nature lays out roadmaps for these pollinators in UV rays.

Even without the UV that we cannot see, there are plenty of other ways the incorporate these pollinators’ favourite colours. Bees have been known to love blue, purple, and yellow hues.

Choosing zinnias in shades of blue, purple and yellow will help increase the number of bees in your garden.

Purple Zinnia

Butterflies can see red (unlike bees). In fact, they see a wider range of colours than bees. They still prefer brighter colors that are easier to see and distinguish but butterflies also enjoy flowers that are blue, purple, yellow, red, or white. 

Which Varieties of Zinnia Attract Butterflies? 

Butterflies love zinnia plants. In fact, there is not a bad choice regarding zinnias!

Planting a wide range of colours will add some focal interest to your garden space. However, there are some things to consider when thinking of planting these amazing flowers.

Choosing zinnias based on their colour is a great way to increase the butterflies in your garden. Purple and blue hues seem to be the favorite for butterflies and other pollinators like bees.

However, butterflies love zinnias because of their shape, allowing for easy access to the nectar. Because of this, choosing any colour of zinnia will still attract large numbers of butterflies to your garden.

Almost more important than the colour of the zinnia is the size.

Larger flowers that offer more space for the butterfly to rest and feed will appeal to the butterfly more. Zinnias do not tend to be large plants like sunflowers. They can be compared to aster plants in their size, colour, and shape.

If you can, plant asters or sunflowers in your garden space alongside your zinnias then this will offer a wider range of plants for butterflies to choose from. 

This is especially beneficial if you plan on creating a butterfly garden. It is also important to choose plants that butterflies utilise in different parts of their lives.

For example, monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. Planting milkweed in your garden space allows adult monarchs to lay eggs creating more butterflies for you to enjoy watching. 

Do Monarch Butterflies Like Zinnias?

Yes, Monarch butterflies like zinnias as other butterfly species do. Ultimately, Monarch butterflies like any flowers that provide them with a reliable and easy-to-access source of nectar.

Do Moths Like Zinnias?

Yes, moths like zinnias too. Although many people do not realise it, moths need nectar too and zinnias can provide moths with plenty of it.

Why Do Butterflies Like Zinnias?

Butterflies like zinnias because zinnias offer the butterflies delicious nectar with very little work. Zinnias are an open-face flower with lots of petals and space for the butterfly to rest while eating.

This is also the case in other flowers like asters, sunflowers, hellebores and echinaceas. Just look at the huge nectar-laden centre of the very open echinacea in the photo below:

Orange Butterly on a Pink Echinacea

The bright and bold colours of zinnias also play a big role in how they are perceived by butterflies. These creatures are drawn to beautiful and alluring colours as they know it will likely be a source of nectar.

As mentioned earlier, butterflies can see ultraviolet colour. Since humans cannot see this colour, we cannot know if certain other colours (like blues, red, or green) have an underlying ultraviolet compound that draws butterflies in. 

Even without the ultraviolet concept, butterflies have been known to be drawn to bright and colourful flowers especially those that are purple, blue, yellow, red, or white. 

Want to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden?

We’ve Put Together an Ultimate Guide to Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden Including Our Top 11 Plants You NEED to Start Growing Today:


If you’re looking to draw in as many butterflies (and other pollinators) into your garden, then it’s vital that you know exactly what to grow. Zinnias are a hugely popular bedding plant which are loved by butterflies.

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