Bumblebee on a pink echinacea flowerBumblebee on a pink echinacea flower

Planting For Pollinators: Attracting Hummingbirds, Bees & Butterflies

 
Wondering how to attract more pollinators to your garden? We'll show you which perennial plants are best for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, and share tips for designing a pollinator-friendly garden. As your garden grows, see which plants are most beloved by pollinators in your area!

6 Tips For Pollinator-Friendly Gardens

  1. The more flowers, the better! (Just in case you needed an excuse for more plants.) Whether you add clover to your lawn or replace the whole space with perennial plants or wildflowers, more flowers mean more food sources and habitat for pollinators.
  2. Look for neonicotinoid-free plants, and avoid using pesticides or herbicides in your garden -- as they're harmful to people, pets, and pollinators.
  3. Add a shallow water source that gives pollinators a place to land. For example, try filling a shallow tray or a birdbath with water, and adding sand, stones, and/or pebbles for landing pads. Refresh the water often or add a fountain or spray feature to prevent water from becoming stagnant.
  4. Include a mix of North American native plants to nourish native pollinators, and European native plants tonourish honeybees. We recommend including 70% native plants.
  5. Plant a range of flowers for long-lasting blooms from early spring all the way through fall. Pollinators that awaken from winter hibernation, like Bumblebees, need early-season nectar and pollen. Late-season blooms help pollinators fuel up for winter hibernation (bees), or for migration to a warmer climate (Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds). When shopping with American Meadows, you can use the “Bloom Season” filter to find plants that fill in the flower gaps in your garden.
  6. Don't forget habitat! Twigs, trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and rock features are helpful elements for providing habitat and shelter for pollinators.

Best Plants For Hummingbirds

Hummingbird and Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)Hummingbird and Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
Hummingbird and Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
  • Long, tubular flowers, like Lobelia, are ideal for hummingbirds - they can reach their long slender beaks into spaces where bees and other pollinators can't reach.
  • Red flowers are most attractive to hummingbirds, as well as bright orange and pink flowers
  • Planting shrubs and trees will provide spaces where hummingbirds can perch and build nests.
  • Hummingbirds look for reliable nectar sources, so planting flowers in large groupings will help attract hummingbirds and keep them coming back year after year.

Best Plants For Bees

Bees visiting Echinacea (Coneflowers). Customer Photo by Prudence Marie Munger.Bees visiting Echinacea (Coneflowers). Customer Photo by Prudence Marie Munger.
Bees visiting Echinacea (Coneflowers). Customer Photo by Prudence Marie Munger.

 

  • Plant single flowers, like Echinacea and Gaillardia, rather than double-headed flowers with loads of petals. Single flowers make it easier for bees to access pollen and nectar.
  • Short tubular flowers, like Foxgloves, Honeysuckle, also make it easy for bees to find nectar.
  • Flat flower clusters, like those of Milkweed, Sedum, and Yarrow, give bees easy access to nectar and a nice place to land.

Best Plants For Butterflies

A monarch butterfly visiting Milkweed (Asclepias)A monarch butterfly visiting Milkweed (Asclepias)
A monarch butterfly visiting Milkweed (Asclepias)
  • When it comes to designing a butterfly garden, there are two types of plants to feature: host plants and nectar plants. Host plants are necessary to provide food and habitat for caterpillars. Nectar plants will attract and feed adult butterflies.
  • Host plants include native grasses, Baptisia, Milkweed, and more. Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch caterpillar – and the nectar-rich flower clusters attract lots of pollinators, too!
  • Nectar plants for butterflies include Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Echinacea, Goldenrod, Yarrow, and many more.
  • Learn More: Growing Host Plants and Nectar Plants to Attract Butterflies
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