Planting plenty of colorful flowers not only helps out pollinating insects, but also will provide you with a gorgeous landscape. Plus, these tips will help you to keep all kinds of beneficial wildlife coming back through the seasons.

By BH&G Garden Editors
Updated June 26, 2020
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One of the best things about gardening is bringing beneficial wildlife to your yard, especially pollinators. Bees and butterflies may first come to mind, but many other insects such as moths, wasps, and beetles also help plants make fruit and seeds by transferring pollen from flower to flower. Most of these creatures don't sting, so you don't need to worry about that when welcoming nature into your garden (if you are allergic to stings, then of course you do need to be more careful). However, not just any plant will attract pollinators to your yard; you need to include species with plenty of nectar-rich flowers. The more of these plants you have in your garden, the more you'll be able to enjoy butterflies and other fascinating insects.

Credit: J WILDE CREATIVE IMAGES

The Best Types of Plants for Pollinators

Besides perennials and annuals, many vines, shrubs, and even trees produce flowers that draw pollinators. Plants with brightly colored flowers, usually oranges, reds, and yellows seem to be the most  attractive to bees and other flying insects. Some of the best types of flowers for pollinators have an open or flat shape, allowing for easier access to pollen and nectar.

To get you started, look for these plants to add to your garden. They are known for being extremely attractive to all kinds of pollinators.

Credit: Denny Schrock

1

Plant a pool of bright yellow in your garden with black-eyed Susan. Not only do these beautiful blooms bring plenty of bees to your garden, but these native plants are also drought-resistant, making them super easy to care for. There are several varieties of black-eyed Susan, so you'll have plenty of choice when looking for the perfect ones to fit into your landscape.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-11

Buy It: Goldsturm Black-Eyed Susan, ($8, High Country Gardens)

Credit: Marty Baldwin

2

As the name indicates, this pollinator plant is visited by butterflies of all kinds, and hummingbirds love this plant, too. Butterfly bush has a sweet scent that attracts pollinators near and far. This plant can be weedy in warmer parts of the country, so make sure to check if it's a problem plant in your area prior to planting it. Some newer varieties such as 'Amethyst' also don't reseed and stay compact.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 5-10

Buy It: Proven Winners Amethyst Butterfly Bush, ($20, The Home Depot)

Credit: David Speer

3

Purple coneflower is a prairie native that attracts pollinating a variety of bees and other insects. These shuttlecock-shaped flowers tend to be purplish pink, but never varieties have expanded the color palette to yellow, orange, burgundy, and cream. Just make sure not to choose double varieties, because these aren't as useful to pollinators.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: 'Magnus' Coneflower Seeds, ($5, Burpee)

Credit: Marty Baldwin

4

Yarrow is an easy-to-grow pollinator favorite that will add a wildflower look to any garden. Use yarrow as a groundcover or along borders to bring pollinating bees to your space. It's important to deadhead spent flowers in order for the plant rebloom, but if you don't want to deadhead yarrow, the dried blooms can be left on the plant for winter interest.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: White Yarrow, ($5, Tennessee Wholesale Nursery)

Pollinator Garden Planting Tips

Helping out your local pollinators is about more than just the plants you choose. Follow these tips to maximize your garden's support of these essential insects.

Arrange Pollinator Plants in Groups

Plant at least three to five types of pollinator plants together, layering them throughout the garden. You'll get beautiful drifts of color, plus insects will more easily be able to gather the food they need from them.

Keep Blooms Deadheaded

Fresh flowers have the most nectar and pollen. If you pinch off dry, spent blooms, the plants often will produce even more new flowers to keep the pollinators coming.

Try a Container

Another way to create a pollinator garden is to create one in a container. Be sure that the plants you're putting together in pots have similar care needs.

Don't Use Pesticides

Be sure to stay away from insecticides because they often kill pests as well as the insects you want to have around. If you need to control plant-eating bugs, try using a strong jet of water from your hose to knock them off or hand-picking them off instead.

Add Water

Another thing that pollinators need is a water source, such as a birdbath. Put a small pebble or stone in your birdbath to give insects a spot to safely perch and sip.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
April 25, 2018
EXACTLY! Everybody needs to be proactive and put out some flowers to attract pollinators! Without them, we could expose our world to widespread HUNGER, as our food supplies depends on these little guys (bees, butterflies, beetles). Thanks for the timely reminder and video!