By Jennifer Poindexter
If you’re a gardener, have you considered adding beekeeping to your list of hobbies? Even if you aren’t sold on the idea of raising bees, it could be beneficial to find ways to invite them into your growing space.
Bees are wonderful pollinators and for this reason, can be a great help to your garden. If you’re interested in finding ways to draw bees into your growing spaces (or if you’re looking for food sources for your backyard bees), I have a list of plants you should consider growing.
I’ll share which plants you might consider, their growing conditions, and areas where the plants remain hardy.
Here are beneficial plants to grow for bees and other pollinators:
What You’ll Learn
- The crucial role of pollinators in sustaining plant life cycles and supporting human diets
- How to foster a garden environment that attracts and sustains bees and other pollinators
- The essential elements to set up a bee-friendly habitat, including water sources and pesticide management
- A list of 15 plants that you can grow to make your garden attractive to bees, along with the specific growing conditions each plant prefers
Importance of Pollinators
Pollination is a vital part of life. Considering most of our food comes from plants which produce flowers, without pollinators, we couldn’t eat.
Pollinators are insects which go from plant to plant and collect nectar. In the process, they get pollen on them.
As they go to the next plant, they spread the pollen which allows the plants to produce flowers and continue their life cycle.
Not only do pollinators keep your garden productive, but they also help keep us fed. Planting things to feed them in return is a great way to give back during gardening season.
Ways to Attract Pollinators
There are a few ways you may draw pollinators to your gardening space. One way is to grow colorful plants with versatile blooms and ensure the plants vary in height.
Another way to draw them is to provide a space for water. It’s wise to add a shallow container with rocks in the bottom and fill it partially with water. The rocks provide a space for the pollinators to sit and drink without drowning.
Finally, be mindful of which pesticides you use. You don’t want to use things which harm pollinators if you want them in your garden space.
These are a few things you can do to create a space with pollinators in mind.
Beneficial Plants to Grow for Bees and Other Pollinators
If you decide to plant a garden with pollinators in mind, you should incorporate a variety of plants. The more colorful the blooms and the more variety in the size and shapes of the plants, the greater chance you have of pollinators coming to your growing space.
Here’s a list of plants you should consider growing to draw bees and other pollinators:
Coneflowers have long stems and colorful blooms. As they mature, the petals droop and the dark center of the flower protrudes to form a cone-shape.
If coneflowers have a space in your garden, be sure to provide a minimum of six hours of bright sunlight and plant in well-draining soil. Coneflowers should remain hardy in planting zones four through nine.
Sunflowers are some of my favorite flowers to grow. They come in various heights and the heads look different based upon variety. Teddy bear sunflowers are shorter and have fluffy heads. While other sunflower varieties are taller and have traditional flowering heads.
No matter the variety you choose, be sure to provide a location with ample sunlight and soil that’s both nutrient-dense and drains adequately. Though sunflowers can grow in almost all planting zones, they’re typically treated as an annual.
Crocus flowers are shorter plants that produce a colorful, cup-shaped bloom. These plants need a colder winter with two to three months of temperatures in the mid-40’s or lower (in Fahrenheit).
If this plant has your interest, be sure to plant in an area with adequately draining soil and select a space which receives full to part sun. Crocus plants should remain hardy in planting zones three through eight.
Snapdragons are plants which reach heights between a half-foot to four feet. There are different varieties, so be sure to select a plant which works best for your growing space.
These flowers do best in areas with ample sunlight and rich soil that drains adequately. However, snapdragons can also survive in an area with only partial sun. Snapdragons remain hardy in planting zones seven to eleven.
Borage has a base of green leaves and produces droopy blue blooms. This plant grows as tall as three feet and is a great way to draw pollinators to your growing space.
This plant does best when provided full sunlight and well-draining soil. Though borage is an annual, it grows well in planting zones two through eleven.
Lavender is a beautiful bush-like plant which produces ample green foliage and light purple blooms. This is a great border plant or could serve as a backdrop to shorter plants.
Regardless of how you use lavender, the plant should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine. It should do well for you as long as you provide full sunlight and well-draining soil.
Asters are bright, colorful flowers with long green stems and daisy-like blooms. These flowers should reach heights between one and six feet.
If you decide to grow asters, be sure to plant them in full sunlight and sandy soil that drains adequately. Asters should remain hardy in planting zones three through eight.
8. Bee Balm
Bee balm is a unique but beautiful flower that starts with a foundation of rich, green leaves and produces colorful, crinkly blooms.
These plants reach heights up to four feet tall and prefer a growing space with full sunlight and soil that’s both nutrient-rich and well-draining. Bee balm is hardy in planting zones three through nine.
Daisies are abundant bloomers. They produce traditional, colorful blooms and have a subtle way of adding character to your growing space.
Expect daisies to remain hardy in planting zones four through nine. These flowers also need ample sunlight and soil that retains necessary moisture but allows the excess to flow away quickly.
Poppies are bright colored flowers with circular blooms and yellow centers. These flowers are a great way to draw pollinators to your growing location due to the pop of color they provide. This flower comes in many varieties which vary in height from only a few inches to as much as twenty feet tall. Be sure to choose a variety that works best for your growing space.
You should supply poppies with at least six hours of bright sunlight and well-draining soil. Poppies may remain hardy in zones two through ten depending upon variety.
Alyssum is a flowy green plant with small white blooms. This plant is great for using as filler in a container or can be grown in the ground.
If you’d like to grow alyssum, be sure to provide a growing location with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. This plant does well in planting zones five through nine but can’t survive frost.
Salvia is one of my favorite plants. How can you not love a plant with a base of foliage that produces long stems and vertical blooms in white, pink, red, blue, and purple? This plant can grow anywhere from one to three feet tall.
When growing salvia, be sure to plant in an area with full sunlight and well-draining soil. Expect this plant to remain hardy in planting zones four through ten.
Chives are another favorite of mine. It steals the show when growing in the herb garden. Not only does the bushy green foliage create a gorgeous sight, but the delicious harvest makes this plant useful around the kitchen as well.
Chives grow best in full sunlight and well-draining soil. They should remain hardy in planting zones three through ten.
Goldenrod grows wild in many places. If you find yourself wanting to grow it in a contained space, be sure to provide the right growing conditions. Goldenrod needs a growing space with plenty of sunlight.
You should also provide goldenrod with well-draining soil. This plant typically remains hardy in planting zones four through nine.
Foxglove is another beautiful plant that’s hard to miss. It begins with a base of lush foliage and long stems which have bell-shaped blooms that grow vertically up the stems.
Should this plant be a good fit for your yard or landscape, be sure to provide plenty of sunlight and soil that’s airy and well-draining. Foxglove typically remains hardy in planting zones four through nine.
These are your options for which plants to incorporate into your growing space to attract bees and other pollinators.
This should encourage more production from your garden and also be a natural food source for the insects which do so much for us.
- Pollinators are indispensable: They not only aid in plant reproduction but also significantly contribute to human food sources by helping plants produce the fruits and vegetables we consume.
- Creating a pollinator-friendly garden: Incorporate plants with a variety of colors, shapes, and heights, provide a safe water source, and use bee-friendly pesticides to make your garden a haven for pollinators.
- Enhanced garden production: Attracting pollinators not only supports these essential creatures but can also increase your garden’s yield and health through improved pollination.
Quick Reference Chart: Beneficial Plants for a Bee Garden
|Plant||Hardiness Zones||Growing Conditions|
|Coneflower||4-9||Requires well-draining soil and ample sunlight.|
|Sunflowers||Most zones (as an annual)||Thrives in nutrient-dense, well-draining soil.|
|Crocus||3-8||Requires cold winters and well-draining soil.|
|Snapdragons||7-11||Adaptable to partial sunlight areas.|
|Borage||2-11 (annual)||Enjoys full sunlight.|
|Lavender||5-9||Perfect for borders and backdrops in gardens.|
|Aster||3-8||Prefers sandy, well-draining soil.|
|Bee Balm||3-9||Demands nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.|
|Daisies||4-9||Requires soil that retains necessary moisture.|
|Poppies||Varies||Varies greatly in height and hardiness depending on the variety.|
|Alyssum||5-9||Needs protection from frost.|
|Salvia||4-10||Available in a variety of vibrant colors.|
|Chives||3-10||Dual-purpose plant useful in the kitchen and garden.|
|Goldenrod||4-9||Naturally occurring in many areas.|
|Foxglove||4-9||Requires airy, well-draining soil.|
Learn More About Attracting Pollinators
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