10 Best Plants to Attract Pollinators
Love monarchs, butterflies, hummingbirds and want local bees? They are pollinators that go from plant to plant transporting nectar. Flowering plants are essential to attract these rare beauties to your landscape.
Growing pollinator plants add beauty to your garden. Depending on your climate, you may be able to grow flowers from early spring through late fall. However, did you know your plants can also benefit the environment? When you grow plants that attract pollinators, you are also helping the local and global eco-system.
So, how do you know which are the best plants to attract pollinators? Here’s ten of our favorites.
10 Best Plants to Attract Pollinators
Perennials, annuals, trees, and shrubs can all bring bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden.
A few quick tips to help your garden thrive include selecting suitable plants for your climate. Also, plant them where they get the recommended sun or shade. Most plants come with handy care tags, but you can always check with a gardening expert.
1. Apple Trees
Apple trees grow in most climates except for extremely cold or hot regions. The trees are surprisingly easy to grow, even for beginners. The tree thrives in sunny locations and can produce a high yield of delicious and nutritious fruit. You need to ensure the area has good drainage; the root system can be susceptible to rot.
Along with a steady supply of fruit, apple trees provide shade in the summer. The fruits attract wildlife, especially native birds. The spring blossoms emit a pleasant scent, and the flowers attract pollinators like bees.
Whether growing as a tree, shrub, or vine, it’s impossible to miss the blossoms on Wisteria. Blue to slightly purple in color, the flowers hang down from the branches in gorgeous clusters.
Wisterias aren’t too picky about sun or shade, but the plants will not grow in colder climates. They are rated for zones 5 -9, which covers most of the United States.
You can grow wisteria as a hedge or cover a fence, arbor, or building wall. With a bit of pruning, it can even become a flowering tree. Mature wisterias can reach up to 25 ft in height.
The flowers typically appear in the late spring or summer, releasing an intoxicating scent. Not only will you enjoy the fragrance, but it will also attract pollinators to your yard.
3. Lilac Shrub
Lilac shrubs prefer cooler climates, typically up to zone 7. The flowering shrub loves full sun and naturally produces blossoms in the spring. Cooler winter temperatures often result in more profuse blooming.
It’s not uncommon for gardeners to plant these shrubs near open windows. They enjoy the fragrance as much as pollinators.
Lilacs can grow up to 16 ft tall and around 12 ft in diameter. You can keep the shrub smaller with careful pruning; wait until after the blooming season.
When it comes to uses for lilacs, the list is almost endless. You can plant them in butterfly and hummingbird gardens. The flowers also attract bees. Cottage gardens are another option; you can also bring the flowers inside as a floral arrangement.
4. Maple Leaf Viburnum
A lover of moderately cool weather, maple leaf viburnum is a low-care plant once established. It grows in sun or shade and only requires occasional watering when rainfall is scarce in the summer.
Gardeners love its easy care and early spring blooms. The flowers last about two weeks, but lush green foliage gives it an attractive appearance throughout the growing season.
The shrub can grow up to six feet tall and is ideal for creating low hedges along property lines.
Pollinators like bees, moths, butterflies, and dragonflies are attracted to the white blooms.
5. Virginia Bluebell
A native perennial, Virginia Bluebells grow in cool and warm regions, producing bell-shaped clusters of blue flowers in the spring.
Naturally found growing in wooded areas, it is a shade-loving plant.
Its easy care and gorgeous flowers make it a favorite plant for gardeners. Since it’s a perennial, you can expect it to return yearly.
The early spring flowers are often grown in mass plantings for maximum effect. The flowers also attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds.
6. Blazing Star
Blazing Star grows naturally in sunny fields and meadows, producing stunning purple flower spikes in the late spring or summer. It grows in warm and cool climates, returning each year.
After blooming, the attractive green foliage grows in clumps adding texture to your garden.
Blazing stars are often grown as ornamental or border plants. The fluffy-looking flower spikes also attract bees and other pollinators.
It requires little care, only watering during dry spells, making it an excellent addition for beginning gardeners.
7. Monarda "Jacob Cline" Bee Balm
Bee Balms can tolerate hot and cold climates, returning each year in the spring.
It is a clump-forming plant that can quickly grow up to 4 ft tall and 3 ft wide. It requires some space in the garden to thrive and not shade other plants.
Bee Balm grows in full to partial sun and requires little care. Pruning after blooming can keep the plant smaller and under control.
In mid-summer, red, tubular flowers appear on the tops of the stems. The showy flowers add bright color to your garden and attract bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. You can expect the plant to bloom for several weeks, sometimes into mid-fall.
8. Butterfly Milkweed
A native North American wildflower, Butterfly weed is hard to miss in the garden. It grows in most climates and prefers sunny locations but can thrive in partial shade.
The tall stems produce clusters of orangish flowers throughout the spring and summer. Its blooming period often depends on the climate. It typically blooms when the weather warms up.
Its showy flowers attract bees and other pollinators. Milkweed is also the only food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars. When you plant Butterfly weeds, you are adding color to your garden and doing something positive for the environment.
9. Dianthus Plant
The perennial adds color to your garden and texture. The long-blooming plants produce pink, crimson, purple, and white flowers.
The plants produce sweet-scented blossoms from spring through fall, attracting pollinators to your garden.
Whether planted as border plants or in larger groups, Dianthus never seems to disappoint gardeners.
It grows best in full to partial sun and is adaptable to most climates.
10. Brown-Eyed Susan
Brown-eyed Susan plants are a favorite biennial with gardeners. The bright yellow flowers and brown center add charm to any garden.
The plant requires full sun but will thrive in almost any climate, including cold and hot regions.
Even though it is a biennial, it behaves like a perennial returning every spring. It is self-sowing once established.
The flowers typically appear in the late spring or summer and attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies.
Let Us Help You Brighten Your Garden and Attract Pollinators
Are you ready to start a butterfly or pollinator garden? Let us help you pick the best plants for your region. You can have flowers throughout the growing season, attracting everything from butterflies to bees and hummingbirds with a bit of care.