Except for the recent blizzard in the Northeast, the rest of the country is slowly inching its way towards spring. The rebirth of nature, such as plants and wildlife, gives gardeners the chance to contribute to the well being of the environment by planting certain species that support the creatures that, in turn, actually help support us. That greenery would be plants of the nectar-bearing variety and the creatures they attract are honeybees, butterflies and moths — in other words, insects that pollinate — and hummingbirds.
Here is a list of the 10 best plants for attracting honeybees and their pollinating brethren to your garden.
There are roughly 250 species of annual and perennial semi-woody flowering plants in the verbena family, the majority of which are native to the Americas. They tend to bloom from spring to fall and require very little in the way of maintenance. Besides offering nectar and the chance for insects to pick up pollen, they provide a brilliant show of colors for container gardens and flowerbeds.
2. Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’
Sedum is another plant that has many species, but the award-winning Purple Emperor — or stonecrop, as it’s commonly called — is an easy-to-grow upright variety that tolerates average soil in full sun and is fairly drought resistant, making it perfect for sunny spots with little to no shade. Blooms from mid to late summer.
3. Butterfly Bush
Lochinch, better known as the butterfly bush, produces beautiful 8- to 12-inch flower spikes in pale and deep purple (sometimes described as blue), which are known to be extremely fragrant. These easy-to-grow deciduous shrubs begin blooming in late summer and go ‘til first frost, in areas with harsh winters. Attracts hummingbirds as well.
Several of the AGM varieties of phlox are extremely attractive to nectar-seeking creatures. They include the Franz Schubert, the Eva Cullum and the Monica Lynden-Bell. The latter two are pink and the former is a soft shade of lilac. All three provide sweet smelling blooms during summer months and make great additions to any border.
These daisy-like perennials bring a blaze of bright colors to any flower garden from late summer to end of autumn. New England asters are easy to grow and essentially mildew resistant. The nice thing about them is that they really take off during the height of honeybee and butterfly season, providing nectar to all that are seeking it.
The valerian plant is an herb known for many things, including the roots, which are often used in calming and sleep remedies. But besides that, the flowers begin to make their appearance in April and continue to produce throughout summer. Pair with nectar-bearing plants that predominantly bloom from late summer to end of fall and you’ll always have color —and honeybees — around your garden.
This popular garden plant has many wild forms. Either way, they bring nectar-seeking insects and birds to wherever they happen to be. A particular type of wallflower known as Bowles’s Mauve displays a soft gray foliage with mauve flowers beginning early in the growing season, attracting butterflies and honeybees.
8. Porter Weed
This diehard plant can sustain most growing conditions. Known as one of the single most attracters of butterflies in the U.S., honeybees can also be seen buzzing about them throughout the year. Depending on what growing zone you reside in, porter weed can bloom all year round. This makes it especially attractive to gardeners.
9. Perennial Peavine
Part of the sweet pea family, lathyrus latifolius is considered a robust, sprawling perennial native to Europe but which can also be found here in North America. Though the flowers are not fragrant, they are a beautiful shade of bright pink that bloom in the summer months. A word of caution: allowing the small pods to ripen will cause your garden to be overrun by seedlings.
A genus of herbaceous perennials, the origanum family includes the aromatic herbs oregano and marjoram. Besides attracting honeybees, it’s also well known for its antimicrobial and antifungal medicinal qualities. The Herrenhausen variety is packed with nectar and blooms in August with large sprays of small, two-tone pink and purple flowers.
With spring comes the opportunity for getting a head start on all of your gardening plans. With bee populations on the decline, what will you be planting this year?