Flowers

Top Flowers That Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

Consider planting some of the following flowers in your garden this season, and bring the bees and hummingbirds into your yard.
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Are you planning your flowerbed for the spring? Flowers bring a splash of color and fragrance to the yard, making the most out of the time you spend relaxing in the garden. While flowers are a fantastic visual aesthetic, they also have other benefits for plants in other people’s yards and the local ecosystem as a whole.

Fragrant flowers attract more than your attention; they also invite pollinators in to play around in your flowerbeds. These garden friends help with the lifecycle of other plants in the garden, spreading pollen between your plants to help them seed and return the following season.

Consider planting some of the following flowers in your garden this season, and bring the bees and hummingbirds into your yard.

Bee Balm

This perennial is a favorite of North American gardeners. Also known as the bergamot, the bee balm produces huge blooms of purple, pink, red, and white flowers. The blooms have a potent, sweet fragrance with green foliage.

Bee Balm Guide
Guide to Bee Balm: How to Grow & Care For Bee Balm Plants

They are hardy plants, growing readily through USDA zones four to nine. It’s a great choice to add to the garden to attract pollinators. The aroma of the flowers spreads across the entire yard during the flowering season, attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

The flowers of this native North American plant also make a deliciously sweet tea, and they also make a great addition to preserves.

Coneflower

The coneflower also goes by the name “echinacea.” This flower grows to heights of around three to four feet. It’s extremely resilient and drought-resistant, and the extract of the plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine for fighting off colds and viral infections.

Echinacea
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The blossoms of this flower vary in color depending on the variety. The traditional genus has white petals with pink to purple edges and tips. The flowers also feature a big yellow and black bee. While they don’t have an especially strong fragrance like the bee balm, they attract bees and hummingbirds during the flowering season.

Borage

This flower is another good choice for attracting pollinators to your yard. This flower also goes under the name the “starflower.” The star-shaped blooms provide sweet, fragrant nectar you can smell several feet from the plant.

Borage
Borage

The flower produces sweet nectar that attracts plenty of bees, and it’s a self-seeding variety that recurs every year without much maintenance. Since you’re going to have plenty of pollinators around, the self-seeding plants have everything they need to launch a new crop the following season.

Sedum

The sedum is a perennial with fleshy stems, succulent leaves, and star-shaped flowers blooming in clusters. There are several varieties of this flower, and the flower also goes by the moniker of the “stonecrop.” They’re a good choice for any garden design, from standard flowerbeds to rockeries.

Sedum Sieboldii
Sedum Sieboldii

This low-maintenance flower comes in two categories, the low-growing, and upright sedum. The low-growing variety spreads out across the ground, reaching a few inches in height. They make excellent ground cover options along the sides of pathways and in bare spots in the flowerbed.

The upright sedum tends to form a tall, vertical cluster of flowers. The plants have attractive flowers, making them a good choice for planting in the back of flowerbeds where they can tower over smaller plants.

Butterfly Bush

As the name suggests, these flowers are a great choice for attracting butterflies to your yard. However, they’ll also bring in plenty of bees and hummingbirds. The flowers come in several color varieties, ranging from lavender to pink, purple, and white.

Buddleja Davidii
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During the peak summer months, the flowers release an intensely sweet fragrance. These plants are hardy, featuring easy growing in USDA zones five to nine. Unlike annual plants, these shrubs will last for decades with the right care, with some getting to heights of eight to ten feet.

Foxglove

This stunning flower features tubular blossoms with speckling in the throat. The plant produces tall flower spikes with a dramatic visual effect. The common variant of the foxglove is a biennial, meaning they create a rosette and leaves in the first year, and they bloom in the second year. After the second year, the plant expires.

Foxgloves Guide
Guide to Foxgloves: How to Plant & Care for Foxglove Flowers

However, the foxglove reseeds easily, so gardeners should plant them for two years in a row to take advantage of the biennial flowering effect. The foxglove can grow up to 5-feet in height in flowerbeds, making them a better choice for the back of the flowerbed.

Dahlia

The delightful dahlia comes in many different hues of deep red to light pink. The herbaceous, bushy plant is a favorite for flowerbeds or container growing. To attract pollinators to your yard, you’re going to need to go with varieties like the simple single or semi-double flowered versions.

Dahlias
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The cactus and pom-pom varieties won’t offer many benefits to attract pollinators to your yard. The varieties have specific breeding that brings the petals closer together, dissuading pollinators from accessing the plant.

Crocus

These cold-tolerant plants are a great choice for the Northern States. It’s best to plant this flower in the fall, and you’ll get a floral display when it blooms in the early spring. You get an early start to your garden with crocus, and the plant reaches around two to four inches in height.

Crocus
Crocus

The flowers come in a range of colors, from reds to pinks, purples, blues, yellows, and more. They make a spectacular and colorful display for any yard, and they do well in containers. Most of the varieties have a strong fragrance that lures the bees and hummingbirds to your yard early in the season.

Cow Parsnip

The cow parsnip might have a strange name, but it’s a great flower for the summer garden. This flower features “compound umbels,” which are flower clusters characteristic of the parsley family. The cow parsnip is a heavy nectar-producing plant, attracting a wide variety of pollinators to its fragrant aroma.

Cow Parsnip
Cow Parsnip

The plant also goes by the name of Indian Celery, and it produces white flowers, growing across America in grasslands, clearings, forests, and other habitats throughout the country.

Lavender

This perennial shrub might not be a flower, but it has plenty of fragrance. Lavender plants grow readily, producing a subtle aroma around the garden. These plants also protect the veggie garden from pests, with the polyphenols in the plant emitting a scent that drives away bugs, deer, and rabbits.

Lavender
Lavender

The lavender plant also attracts pollinators to the yard. Bees love lavender, and it’s a great choice for keeping mosquitoes away from your patio. Plant it in pots, and never worry about the pesky critters biting your ankles in the summer.

Anise Hyssop

The Anise Hyssop is neither anise nor hyssop. Like the hyssop, the anise hyssop is a close relation of the mint family. The leaves of the plant emit a slightly minty fragrance, similar to what you expect with anise. However, the polyphenol “anethole” is not abundantly available like it is in the licorice plant.

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop

Instead of smelling like licorice, the anise hyssop has an aroma similar to French tarragon or basil. The flower spikes typically don’t have any scent, and they have a beautiful blue or dark purple color. The stems on these plants stand upright without the need for staking, and the foliage is a dull green color.

Dandelion

Dandelions are a pest to some gardeners. The flowers have the habit of spreading fast if you don’t keep an eye on garden conditions. However, many gardeners don’t realize that the dandelion attracts pollinators to your yard.

Dandelion
Dandelion

Dandelions bloom over a long season, so pick them before they start to produce the lightweight seeds that flat across your lawn. In the interim, they’ll attract more bees and birds to your flowerbeds. The bright yellow flowers produce a sweet scent, and they look attractive.

Milkweed

The milkweed also goes by the moniker of the “butterfly weed” for obvious reasons. This plant attracts butterflies to the flowerbed in droves. The Asclepias is a herbaceous perennial plant variety, being a magnet for monarch butterflies that love sipping on the sweet nectar from the flowers.

Milkweed
Milkweed

The “Red Butterfly” Asclepias is a challenging plant to grow from seed. However, most nurseries have matured seedlings available, ready for transplant into flowerbeds or pots. Some nurseries also sell tubers prepared for planting in the early springtime.

Typically, the milkweed prefers growing in cooler climates. However, the orange and scarlet milkweed varieties are great choices for warmer temperatures.

Daisy

The daisy has to be an American classic, adored by everyone that lays eyes on the flower. Whether you’re making daisy chains in the backyard or admiring the cheery bees of the plants stretching up to the sun, daisies are the symbol of summer.

Daisy
Daisy

The daisy also makes for a great pollinator plant, attracting bees and butterflies to its friendly yellow smile. The classic shasta daisy comes with white petals and yellow bees, but several other varieties are available in different shades of pink, purple, red, and more.

Marigold

Some gardeners swear that the marigold actually repels bees from the garden. However, anyone that’s paid enough attention to these flowers knows that that’s not the case. Bees love these plants, and so do butterflies. This annual is also edible, and a marigold leave salad is sweet and satisfying.

Marigolds
Marigolds

Gardeners should plant marigolds around the edges of their flowerbeds. The flowers attract pollinators, but they also keep pests away from the rest of your flowerbed. The flowers excrete an enzyme that deters pests, which is easy to see why gardeners can get confused with it chasing away bees.

The plant produces brightly colored flowers in shades of yellow and orange. You’ll notice that butterflies have a special affinity for the marigold throughout the growing season. The marigold is also suitable for planting in areas of the vegetable garden where you need to remediate the soil.

The marigolds remove pathogens from the ground while returning nutrients to the soil. The gardener should ensure they buy varieties with open centers to help the pollinators feed. The “chameleon” variety is excellent, featuring an impressive display of color, with gold, yellow, orange, and red flowers.

Snapdragon

The snapdragon is a great choice for attracting bumblebees into the yard. These plants adapted their color, scent, and flower shape specifically to accommodate these pollinators. The bumblebee is the only bee with enough strength to separate the snapdragon’s jaws and enter the flower to collect pollen.

Snapdragon
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You can plant snapdragons en masse in the flowerbeds, creating a beautiful display of color, from pinks, purples, and reds, to yellows, white, and many other color combinations. The snapdragon deliberately releases its scent in the prime feeding hours of the bumblebee’s day.

Sunflower

The big face of the smiling sunflower is a welcome addition to any garden. These plants need no description, with the huge yellow petals and orange/black bees. The scent of the sunflower is somewhat subtle, considering its size.

How to Grow Sunflowers
How to Grow Sunflowers

However, the plant is a magnet for bees and butterflies that sip on the nectar. Sunflower also produces a sticky chemical on the exterior of the head of the plant, even before it starts flowering. The scent from the polyphenols attracts other pollinators into your yard, searching for the sweet nectar.

The sunflower comes in several varieties, but the traditional colors are our favorite. The plants create plenty of seeds during the growing season, and it’s a self-seeding variety. Remove the flowers after they die back, and you’ll get another crop the following year.

Goldenrod

The goldenrod is a native plant to Europe and South America. Some varieties also grow in North America and Asia. These plants flourish in natural environments, and you’ll often see them on the sides of roads, growing in ditches and fields.

Goldenrod
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Many people regard the goldenrod as a weed, but it has pretty aesthetics, and it invites pollinators into your yard. The goldenrod also has medicinal benefits, with extracts of the flowers playing several roles in traditional medicine.

The plant produces huge golden blooms of flowers that drive bees into your garden, searching for the seductive scent.

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Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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