Ideas & Inspiration

Flowers that Attract Pollinators

Butterfly Bush
Butterfly on purple butterfly bush

As you might expect, butterfly bushes are great at attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Colorful, fragrant flowers bloom in spring and summer. Grows 8 to 10 feet in height in zones 5 to 9.

Bee Balm
Purple bee balm in a garden

Another aptly named flower, bee balm deserves a place in every pollinator garden. You’ll be surprised to see bees and hummingbirds flock to this native plant. Plus, its leaves can be dried to make tea. Grow in full sun in zones 4 to 9.

A bee on a purple lavender stem

Lavender is a low-maintenance plant that tolerates dry conditions and loves the heat. Bees love it, but deer and rabbits tend to skip it. Plus, the lavender blooms add perfume to the entire garden and can be used to flavor dishes. Grow in full sun in zones 5 to 10.

A bee on a pink coneflower

Coneflower's daisy-like blossoms in pink, yellow, orange or white are guaranteed to draw bees and butterflies from midsummer to late fall. Plant these at the back of the garden so their tall stems form a backdrop to smaller flowers in the foreground. Grow in full sun in zones 3 to 9.

Black-Eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan blooms in a garden

Black-eyed Susan's smiling daisy-like flower is popular with bees and other pollinators. Besides the signature sunny yellow, the flowers come in bronze, mahogany and red. These native perennials are easy to grow, performing well even in poor soil and dry conditions. Grow in full sun in zones 4 to 9.

Blue borage blooms with a bee

The star-shaped flowers of borage appear in summer and last until first frost. It’s a drought-tolerant, native herb that is self-seeding. Grows to 2 feet.

Monarch nectaring on asclepias (milkweed)

Spring is an extremely important time for monarch butterflies who use milkweed as a host for their larvae. This early spring plant should be a staple in all pollinator gardens. Grow in full sun in zones 3 to 7.

Bee nectaring on a purple aster

The lovely pink or lavender blooms of asters attract a wide range of late-season butterflies and beneficial insects. Darker purple strains look stunning with a light background such as a white picket fence. In a sunny spot, space plants one to three inches apart depending on the variety. Most asters are hardy in zones 4 to 8. 

Joe Pye Weed
Butterflies on pink Joe Pye weed

Moist spots are perfect for Joe Pye weed, which produces billows of airy pink florets in late summer. The native form can reach 3 to 12 feet tall, but improved cultivars grow to half that size, and they bloom in brighter colors, too. Joe Pye weed is best planted in a space with plenty of room to grow. Joe Pye weed is hardy in zones 3 to 8.

A birdhouse with Autumn Joy sedum in bloom

One of the most dependable perennials you can grow, ‘Autumn Joy’ and other vigorous varieties will quickly establish themselves as permanent garden residents in any sunny spot. The early fall flowers attract a wide range of beneficial insects, and make excellent cut flowers as well. Autumn Joy sedum thrives in zones 3 to 8. Learn more about attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

More Plants Pollinators Love
Hummingbird nectaring on a fuchsia flower

Plan to plant for pollinators all season long. Following are some ideas for your garden:

Spring Pollinator Plants:

  • Crabapple
  • Crocus
  • Lungwort
  • Pansy 
  • Viola

Early Summer Pollinator Plants:

  • Allium
  • Cherry
  • Columbine
  • Dianthus
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Fuchsia
  • Heucheraa
  • Winterberry

Mid-Summer Pollinator Plants:

  • Clethra 
  • Cleome
  • Cosmos
  • Gladiolus
  • Morning glory
  • Nasturtium
  • Nicotiana
  • Penstemon
  • Petunia
  • Scarlet runner bean
  • Rose
  • Spirea
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnia

Late Summer Pollinator Plants:

  • Delphinium
  • Goldenrod
  • Lobelia
  • Obedient plant

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