Creating a Pollinator Friendly Garden

We all love the joy and beauty of looking out over our landscape and gardens to see the variety of colors that grow there. Seeing the amazing wildlife that is attracted to this scene is another part of that joy. Did you know that some of that wildlife, such as butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, serve a great purpose as well as providing us viewing pleasure?

These beautiful, but industrious visitors are known as pollinators and they are crucial to most plants’ well-being. We’ve created a quick guide to the top 10 plants that attract pollinators to your landscape and garden. We kept it at 10, but there are several excellent choices. Some plants attract only one or two types of pollinators, while others attract them all.

Bee on pink flower covered in pollen.

Pollination is simply the act of taking pollen from one plant to another plant that is the same species. This process produces fertile seeds. Nearly every flowering plant depends upon pollination to reproduce. Pollination can take place through pollen blowing on the wind, being carried by water and some plants self-pollinate. Others depend entirely on pollinators, who do the job when they go from flower to flower to feed. In addition to those mentioned above, beetles, moths, wasps and flies help in pollination.

Planting a Pollinator-Friendly Garden is easy if you bear a few things in mind when choosing blooming flowers, shrubs and trees. The first and foremost thing is using native plants. The pollinators in your area evolved with the native plants in your area. Both are synced to the local soils, climate and growing seasons. Some pollinators only feed from specific plants. For example, hummingbirds prefer nectar from long, tube-like honeysuckle flowers. Green sweat bees, however, like more open sunflowers. Plus, certain non-native plants won’t give the pollinators enough pollen or nectar and even provide some that is inedible. You want plants that provide abundant edible pollen and nectar.

Find which native plants grow best in your region.

Bloom of purple asters with butterflies.

Native Plants:

  • Purple passion flower
  • Desert gold poppy
  • Sunflower
  • Autumn sage
  • Milkweed
  • Wild hydrangea
  • Coneflower
  • Yellow primrose

Perennial Plants:

  • Fuchsia
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Zinnia
  • Hollyhocks
  • Aster
  • Phlox
  • Bee balm
  • Thistle
Pink and purple flower bloom.

Color Counts a Lot: Butterflies love orange, white and yellow, while hummingbirds prefer orange and red. Bees see ultraviolet signals, which we can’t see. Flowers such as black-eyed Susans and buttercups have these signals. Bees also like yellow, blue and purple flowers, as well as those with sweet fragrances.

Flower Shape Matters: You attract bees, moths and pollinators with long proboscis by planting flowers that are small and tube-like. Long, tube-like flowers are great for attracting hummingbirds. As butterflies need to land when they eat, mid-sized flowers with open petals are best for them.

Pollinators Need Water, Too: While the plants themselves will provide a good food source, all of our pollinator friends need to drink. There are special feeders for butterflies and hummingbirds that provide both food and water. You can put in a small water garden, catch basin to collect rain or even a birdbath for the butterflies, bees and birds, too. Butterflies especially love muddy puddles, as they provide nutrients and salts as well as water.

Some Other Helpful Hints for Attracting Pollinators:

  • Use plants that bloom through the entire growing season.
  • Stay organic! Chemicals either hurt or kill pollinators.
  • Plant big patches of a good variety of pollinator-attracting plants.
  • Variety is good and will attract the most pollinators.

Be Patient: Attracting pollinators takes time. Give your landscape and garden the tender loving care it needs and you will start to attract these helpful and beautiful members of nature’s family. Plus, you’ll have a gorgeous view in the meantime!

Share The Garden Love

Purple asters with monarch butterflies on them with text, "17 plants for your pollinator friendly garden"
Collage of bees and butterflies on flowers with text, "Go native, ways to support local pollinators, 'beautiful'"

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