Flowers that Attract Bees and other Pollinators

Flowers that Attract Bees and other Pollinators

There are many flowers that attract bees and other pollinators as well as other beneficial Insects.  I prefer using native and popular perennials, as they don’t need to be replanted every year.  They are likely to thrive for some years with proper care, such as adding compost annually and periodic division when they become oversized or overcrowded.  The chart below is meant as a guide to help in your selection of the colors you want to incorporate into the garden, depending on the perennial and specific variety that you choose.

Attracting Pollinators with Flowers

When choosing your flowers, diversity is important along with timing.  The idea is to have several flowers blooming at different times. When selecting only three or four plants, they should ideally bloom at different times of the year, from spring to fall.

Having a section for just herbs is also a great way to attract the bees and other pollinators.  Some herbs, such as mint and dill, are best grown in containers to prevent them from taking over the garden. In general, herbs in pots are great in the case when you do have a sunny window where you can overwinter them and be able to enjoy them all year long.  See my video about bees and other pollinators Power of flowers

Vegetables and Fruits Requiring Pollination 

Bees collecting pollen from squash flowers.

This list is not exclusive but rather a sample of some of those vegetables that absolutely need pollinators. These, while being pollinated, are also providing food for the bees. Fruit trees can be ornamental types as well as fruit bearing. One example is crabapple versus large edible apples.

Summer squash, like zucchini, pattypan squash and straightneck squash. Winter squash, like acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. Pumpkins and gourds all need to be pollinated.  Cucumbers, peppers, and all the berries, like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. All fruit trees, like apple, cherry, pear or plum.

Leaving Behind a Few Vegetables

Lettuce bolted in full bloom.

Once it gets warm, several greens, like lettuce and Asian greens, will bolt, as will radishes.  What that means is that it will flower and start to develop seeds. We no longer eat the leaves at this point, as they get bitter. The flowers they put out are sought after by bees. Normally, when the lettuce bolts, we tend to pull it up and get the ground ready for the next crop. Leaving a few plants behind is a great way to attract bees and provide food.

The same can be done with broccoli and other. Once you harvest the main head of broccoli, there are side shoots that will begin to develop from the sides. You can leave a few behind for the bees.

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Bees and Flowers

Keep in mind that the bee population was hit really hard due to the sudden death syndrome.  The cause has been attributed to the slow and deadly accumulation of concentrations of chemicals, such as pesticides etc. There is still some debate about this conclusion, but it is irrelevant whether it’s true or not, as bees are extremely sensitive to pesticides. Therefore, pesticides should not be used. Bees and other pollinators need good clean food.

Once, we had lots of wildflower fields and a bouquet of flowers everywhere in open fields, highways and around our homes. Now, we see very little around highways (though, fortunately, some states are starting to plant wildflowers along their highways).  What we do see are housing developments with lots of toxic lawns, toxic farmlands, etc. – and the list goes on. It’s no wonder that they are dying. Where are the flowers?

Therefore, we all need to pitch in. The same goes for all other pollinators out there, like butterflies, moths, and all those insects that need flowers to help maintain a balanced ecosystem.  Most importantly, we need them! To read about other beneficial insects read my blog Beneficial insects and their habitat

Plant list to Attract bees and other pollinators

This is not an all-inclusive list and depending on the specific variety used, different pollinators will come.


Common Name



Color of bloom


Sun needs


Achillea millefolium



1.5- 3′

red, gold, pink, yellow, white



bees, butterflies, flies, moths, skippers, wasp

Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly milkweed


2- 3′


June- Aug


bees, butterflies, flies, moths, wasp

Aquilegia canadensis

Wild Columbine


2- 3′

red and yellow

April- June

full- part shade

bees, bumblebees, humingbirds, birds

Baptisia australis

Blue False Indigo


3- 6′

indigo blue, red, yellow, orange


full – part shade





1- 2.5′

orange, yellow

June- Aug

full – part shade

bees, butterflies, flies, skippers, wasp

Dalea purpurea

Purple prairie clover


1- 3′

rose purple

June- Aug


bees, butterflies, flies, skippers, wasp


Belladonna, Larkspur


3- 8′

blue, white, violet, pink

June-July & fall


bees, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, skippers

Digitalis purpurea



1- 6′

strawberry pink, white, purple


full sun- full shade


Echinacea purpurea



1- 5′

purplish pink, violet, white

June- Sept.

full- part shade

bees, butterflies, flies, moths, skippers, soldier beetles, wasp

Monarda sp.



2- 4′

blue, pink, purple, scarlet, white


full- part shade

Bees, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, skippers, wasp

Nepeta x faassenii



1- 2′

dark blue, violet, white

early- mid fall

full- part shade

Bees, butterflies, flies, skippers, wasp