Insect-Friendly Plants: Zinnias

Orange zinna with pale yellow butterfly

Zinnias are some of the most insect-friendly plants you can grow. Easy from seed, these cheerful annuals flower a few weeks after planting.

Yellow zinnia with butterfly

Pollinators love zinnias so much, it can prove more difficult to get a picture of one without a butterfly or other insect on board.

Red zinnia

Humans will find their bright colours attractive too.

Pink zinnia

After stalking the flower patch for some time, I did manage to capture an ’empty’ zinnia.

Butterfly on zinnia

But by then, the movement and boldness of the butterflies had captured my attention. After all, not many flowers prove so irresistible to butterflies and moths that they’ll allow a big human to loom over them with an iPhone.

Red and white zinnia

Might as well take full advantage!

Double zinnia

I’ll leave you with the kind of picture I’d been aiming for. The form of this fully double flower was attractive to me, but held less interest for the butterflies:  when choosing flowers to attract insects, single and semi-double varieties are the ones to go for.

Becky has set out to brighten our April and after a few days sulking with (even more) WordPress woes (don’t ask), she’s lured me back as easily as a zinnia lures an insect. She’s gone bright eyed and bushy tailed today.

I’m also linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day as I hardly ever post flower pictures without thinking of her.

I’ll leave you with a tip that might be handy if you’re taking part in April Squares and find your images are dulled after uploading. It’s a free service – tinyPNG – that I use to compress images before uploading them to my blog. (If you want to compress more than 20 at a time, there’s a fee.) There are lots of good reasons to compress images – they’ll load more quickly and be more accessible for people with slower connections. But the reason I’m mentioning it now is that after running them through tinyPNG, images seem to keep more of their brightness when uploaded to WordPress. It’s worth a try!

40 Replies to “Insect-Friendly Plants: Zinnias”

  1. Gorgeous colours! I grew zinnias for the first time in years last summer and really enjoyed them – so did the bees… 🙂

    1. I don’t know how I managed to get pictures without a bee, unless the butterflies were batting them away. I once saw a Monarch tussling with a hummingbird over a flowering vine, so I wouldn’t put it past them!

  2. The site you mentioned is interesting. I’d tried saving images as .png files, but the load times were noticeably longer. I’ll give this a try, just to see how it works, if nothing else.

    My favorite of your flowers is the last. The colors are delightful. I recently read an article about the usefulness of natives vs. cultivars for pollinators, and it made the same point: double flowers aren’t as useful to the insects, so look for ‘fancy’ flowers with single blooms.

  3. It isn’t summer if there aren’t zinnias! What a gorgeous display you have here, and I have no trouble picturing you as “stalker” in that garden — I bet the insects were deliberately photo-bombing and having a high old time. Yesterday morning we had snow, and last night the temperature fell into the 20s; many a daffodil is this morning lying with its head on the ground. What a melancholy sight. And therefore your zinnias are very spirit-lifting. Thank you!

    1. Poor daffodils! Zinnias very sensibly stick to the warmer times of the year for flowering. I think you’re right – the insects were having a jolly jape.

      1. Jape! Another word I didn’t know! Thank you! “Jolly jape” describes those happy insects exactly. I’m pleased to report the daffodils fought back; most of them look tall and quite smug now.

  4. That tip about tinyPNG looks worth a punt. I’m not super-techy so we’ll have to see how demanding it is of my poor brain though!

  5. Fabulous tip, and what wonderful squares. I am sowing so many pollinator plants this spring, really hope enough take to increase the visitors to our garden. The buddleias don’t seem enough of a pull these days

    1. I have very little bare soil, but have just ordered some borage seeds and by posting, have talked myself into trying zinnias for the first time. Fingers crossed!

  6. One of my all-time favorite annuals, zinnias are beautiful and are stars in attracting pollinators to my garden. I love those hot colors, too!

  7. Zinnias are zingy! But not only do the bees and butterflies adore them, so do the slimy assassins 😫 I tried growing seeds direct last year and they did in fact germinate, only to be eaten overnight. I shall try again this year, but indoors first to see if I can get larger seedlings that can defend themselves!

    1. I took the plunge and ordered a packet of seeds after posting, then almost immediately saw this. Mind you the slimy ones will eat most things, given half a chance.

    1. It’s not often you have cause to complain about butterflies – no I take that back – I am often miffed to see what their caterpillars do to my garden peas.

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