by Bethany Hayes
Pollinators make the world grow around, and most people never pay attention to them. As our world changes, pollinators need more help from us, so consider planting flowers that attract pollinators to your garden. It benefits everyone.
Pollinators are a keystone species, which means that they play a unique and crucial role in our ecosystem. Without their presence, our ecosystem would vastly change. Over one-third of the foods that we grow require pollinators, including fruits, coffee, and chocolate.
Yes, seriously, if pollinators didn’t exist, say goodbye to your beloved cup of coffee every morning.
Incorporating flowers into every place throughout your garden is one of the wisest moves a gardener makes. Not only do flowering plants encourage pollinators to stop by, but they also ward off a range of harmful pests and attract beneficial insects that eat the pests.
It’s a win-win. If you’re wondering which flowers attract pollinators the most, check out the list below.
Attract Pollinators to Your Garden with These Flowers
With a name like this, you know that this flower attracts pollinators. Bee balm is part of the mint family and prefers growing in clumps. The plant produces fragrant, nectar-filled flowers on tall stems; the blooms vary in color from red to lavender. It’s a hardy perennial plant in zones 3-9.
Bee balm often blooms from late spring throughout the fall, depending on what variety you grow. All varieties attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Borage is a popular flower that some refer to as starflower because it produces beautiful, star-shaped blue flowers. Not only does borage look beautiful in your garden, but pollinating insects gather around this flower. It provides sweet nectar to bees and other valuable insects.
Borage has edible flowers that taste great in salads and other recipes. It’s an annual plant that grows in all USDA zones, and it’s known for being a low-maintenance plant that even new gardeners won’t kill. So, if you think you have a black thumb, add borage to your pollinator garden.
Bees love borage the best. They love the blue flowers and spend a lot of time flocking this plant.
As the name implies, butterfly bushes attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your backyard. These perennial plants produce purple, lavender, pink, and white blooms throughout the spring and summer. The blooms are beautiful and fragrant.
Gardeners living in USDA zones 5-9 can grow butterfly bushes; the shrubs last for years with proper pruning. Ensure you provide plenty of space for them to grow because some reach up to ten feet wide.
Calendula produces beautiful yellow and orange flowers, yet it’s considered an herb. This flowering plant is known for its medicinal properties, such as easing skin inflammation and redness.
Calendula is an annual flower that grows well in USDA zones 2-11. The flowers bloom from the spring until the fall. Expect blooms until the first frost, so long as you regularly deadhead the plants.
These flowers attract bees and butterflies. It’s a smart idea to plant calendula amongst your vegetable plants because it attracts beneficial insects that fight off pests like ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies.
Typically called echinacea, coneflowers produce daisy-like heads of flowers of different colors, attracting pollinators for their pollen. Herbalists love echinacea because it’s a potent medicinal herb. The most popular coneflower variety is the purple coneflower, but this plant comes in different varieties, and all types attract pollinators.
Echinacea dies back in the winter and requires thorough deadheading, but the plants are hardy perennials in zones 3-10, so expect them to grow back in the upcoming year. The blooms appear from midsummer through mid-fall, attracting bees, birds, and butterflies.
Cosmos are adorable, annual flowers that grow little daisy-like flowers on top of long, thin stems. They come in all different sorts of colors, and they’re a fantastic cut flower if you want to make arrangements because they vary from one to five feet tall.
Cosmos grow as an annual in USDA zones 2-8, but if you live in zones 9-11, these flowers may grow as perennials. They bloom from the late spring until the first frost of the year in the fall.
Planting these flowers in your garden attracts bees, butterflies, moths, and birds. They all love the pollen and beauty of these plants.
Daisies are an iconic flowering plant that grows in most USDA zones. Kids and pollinators alike flock to this flower; there is something so quaint and sweet about this plant. Not only does it attract bees, but butterflies also love daisies.
Daisies bloom from the late spring until the fall. Some varieties produce the classic white and yellow heads, but others come in vibrant yellow, pink, and more colors.
Some people think of goldenrod plants as weeds, but these fluffy golden-yellow blooms are more than that. Goldenrods belong to the Aster family, and there are over 100 varieties; most species are growing native throughout North America. All zones have varieties suitable to their climate.
This plant blooms from late summer throughout the fall. Bees and butterflies love this flowering plant, and it also attracts a range of beneficial insects that will chase away pests in your garden.
If you want a compact flowering plant in your pollinator garden, heliotrope is a great choice. Some species range from one to three feet tall and produce vanilla-scented flowers that range from white to blue-purple and fuzzy, dark green leaves.
Heliotrope grows as a perennial in zones 9b-11, but it is an annual plant in other USDA zones. It blooms from summer through the fall, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
If you’re planting flowers to attract pollinators to your garden, lavender is the quintessential pollinator plant. The tall spikes of lavender blooms on silver-green foliage attract all sorts of beneficial insects while also repelling mosquitoes and flies out of your garden.
Lavender is a perennial plant in zones 6-11, and it grows an annual plan in zones 2-6. There are three main types of lavender – English, Spanish, and French -, and each has its own growing requirements. In general, expect blooms throughout the summer and fall, but in mild climates, lavender blooms all year-round.
Plant this flower to attract bees to your garden. Bees adore lavender.
Nearly everyone recognizes marigolds. These annual flowers produce blooms that range from red to yellow, growing all summer into the fall. They spread wide and look beautiful when well-tended.
Marigolds grow in zones 2-11; those in zones 10-11 enjoy this flower all year-round. It blooms from late spring until late fall.
These flowers attract pollinators like moths and butterflies. They also make a fantastic companion plant because they deter pests like cabbage loppers. Make sure you prune regularly, or the plants will overtake vegetable plants.
Every pollinator garden needs to include milkweed. Milkweed is a huge species of flowers with over 100 varieties that vary in color, size, and appearance. No matter what species you pick, they all feed monarch butterflies.
The most popular species is Tropical Milkweed because monarch butterflies flock to it. However, this species doesn’t die back in the winter, so it needs to be trimmed back to match the monarch’s natural migration pattern. Check your local garden nursery to see which varieties grow best in your region.
These flowers bloom in the spring and summer. They’re a host plant for monarch caterpillars; they lay their eggs on the plant. The butterflies also enjoy nectar from the plant.
Nasturtiums are one of the best flowers to plant in a vegetable garden because they’re edible, with a peppery arugula-like flower. Both the leaves and petals are edible. They’re easy to grow and beautiful. The blooms come in all different colors, from yellow to pink.
Nasturtiums are annual flowers that grow in USDA zones 4-8. If you live in zones 9-11, it’s possible to grow nasturtiums as a perennial plant; it continues to grow and sprawl wide. Expect blooms from early summer through the fall in most climates.
If you include these flowers in your garden, they’ll attract pollinators such as hummingbirds, bumblebees, and moths. They also make a great trap crop for aphids; aphids love these flowers and pick them over other plants in your garden.
It’s believed that there are over 800 varieties of salvia plants. These plants and flowers come in a wide range of colors and sizes. Some are hardy, perennial bushes, while others are short annuals.
Most salvia plants grow in USDA zones 7-11, but some tolerate colder climates as an annual plant rather than a perennial plant. Expect blooms from the spring to the fall.
Salvia blooms attract a range of pollinators; they cannot get enough of this flowering plant. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds flock to the blossoms.
Sunflowers are an iconic flower that produces tall, stunning, large-headed flowers as annual plants. The bright yellow petals and dark-brown to black centers scream summertime. Some species produce single heads, while others are multi-headed varieties with a longer life span and different bloom times.
No matter where you live, you can grow sunflowers. They are annuals that bloom from the summer into the fall, depending on where they’re planted. Sunflowers attract bees, birds, and other pollinators to your garden.
Verbena is a huge family of plants; some say that there are over 250 species of annual and perennial verbena plants. No matter what species you pick, most attract pollinators to your garden. Most verbena species grow in zones 5-11, but they’re only perennial flowers in zones 7-11.
Expect these flowers to bloom from late spring until the fall. The best way to encourage more blooms is to deadhead frequently. The blossoms attract all kinds of butterflies because verbena is a source of nectar for the monarch butterfly.
Yarrow is best known for its medicinal purposes in herbal remedies, but the clusters of yellow, pink, white, red, or lavender flowers attract droves of pollinators. Common yarrow is hardy in zones 3-10 but look at the specific species before planting because some have different hardiness zones.
Yarrow blooms from the late spring throughout the fall. It attracts butterflies, ladybugs, and bees to your garden.
Start Attracting Pollinators
Pollinators play a crucial role in our gardens, and it would be silly not to plant flowers that attract pollinators. Not only do they help pollinate our plants, but they bring in the good insects we need to fight off the pests that want to destroy our gardens. Start planting some of these flowers!