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Planting for Pollinators

How-to Guides, Planting, Pollinators

You’ve definitely heard about pollinators and are probably familiar with some of the more common ones. Pollinators are basically animals—mostly insects—that move pollen from one flower to another, helping them to produce fruits and seeds. And did you know that according to the Pollinator Partnership, the largest non-profit in the world dedicated exclusively to the […]

You’ve definitely heard about pollinators and are probably familiar with some of the more common ones. Pollinators are basically animals—mostly insects—that move pollen from one flower to another, helping them to produce fruits and seeds.

And did you know that according to the Pollinator Partnership, the largest non-profit in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems, pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat?

Pollinators need us. And we need them.

GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES

You’ve likely seen pollinators in your own backyard, and that’s a good thing. When you plant for pollinators, you’ll attract even more. They’re fun to watch and there’s something pretty fascinating about knowing you can play a small part in an important natural chain of events.

We’ll get into what types of plants are best for different pollinators next. But first, here’s who you’re likely to attract with different perennials, annuals, herbs, trees and shrubs:

  • Hummingbirds
  • Caterpillars
  • Butterflies
  • Bees

We’ll stick with the main four when it comes to plant recommendations, but other birds, bats, moths and even some small mammals can share in the act of pollination.

WHAT EXACTLY DO POLLINATORS DO?

As pollinators travel from plant to plant, they carry pollen on their bodies and transfer it from male flower structures (anthers) to female structures (stigma) of the same species, essentially making it possible for the vital process of fertilization.

In fact, in 2011, an article was published in Oikos called How many plants are pollinated by animals? and it was estimated that up to 300,000 species of the world’s flowering plants need animal pollinators.

Plants benefit because the pollinators make it possible to produce new seeds. But pollinators do, too, as they get the nectar or pollen they need for energy and nutrients. Nectar is a sugary carbohydrate and pollen contains valuable proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and important phytochemicals.

SO, WHAT SHOULD WE PLANT?

You’ve got a lot of options. And not only can you choose plants by the pollinators they attract, but also by type (eg annual, perennial, tree, etc.) and when they bloom (eg spring, summer or fall). Plus, you’ll find the pollinator-friendly plants that grow best in our region and give the most benefits to our local pollinator friends.

So let’s get to it.

 

BLOOM IN SPRING


TREES

Flowering Cherries (caterpillars & bees)

Crabapples (caterpillars & bees)

Serviceberries (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (butterflies & bees)

Redbud (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Red Maple (bees)

SHRUBS/VINES

Blackberries (butterflies & bees)

Hollies (bees)

Crossvine (bees & humminbirds)

Spirea ‘Vanhouette’ (butterflies & bees)

Lilacs (butterflies & bees)

Spicebush (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Tumpet Honeysuckle (caterpillars, butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

PERENNIALS

Bapitisia (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Hellebores (bees)

Pulmonaria/Lungwort (butterflies & bees)

Virginia Bluebells (butterflies & bees)

Violets (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

 

BLOOM IN SUMMER


TREES

Linden (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Oak (caterpillars & butterflies)

SHRUBS/VINES

Abelia x Grandiflora (butterflies & bees)

Aralia (butterflies & bees)

Butterfly Bush (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Bottlebrush Buckeye (butterflies, bees & humminbirds)

Buttonbush (butterflies & bees)

Diervilla (butterflies & bees)

Panicle Hydrangea (butterflies & bees)

St. John’s Wort ‘Sunburst’ (bees)

PERENNIALS

Coneflower (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Liatris (butterflies & bees)

Bee Balm (caterpillars, butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Ornamental Onion ‘Millennium’ (butterflies & bees)

Joe Pye Weed (butterflies & bees)

Milkweed (caterpillars, butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Russian Sage (butterflies & bees)

ANNUALS

Pentas (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Saliva (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Zinnia (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Sunflowers (butterflies & bees)

Tall Verbena (butterflies & bees)

HERBS

Dill, Fennel, Thyme (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Mints, Lavender (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

 

BLOOM IN FALL


SHRUBS

Seven Sons Flower (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Bluebeard (butterflies & bees)

Chastetree (butterflies & bees)

PERENNIALS

Anemone (bees)

Aster (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Goldenrod (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ (butterflies & bees)

Perennial Sunflowers (butterflies & bees)

Sedum (butterflies & bees)

Ironweed (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Native Grasses (caterpillars & butterflies)

ANNUALS

Dahlia ‘Mystic’ series (butterflies & bees)

Lantana (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Turtlehead (caterpillars, butterflies & bees)

Salvia (butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

Scarlet Milkweed  (caterpillars, butterflies, bees & hummingbirds)

 

GIVE IT A TRY

Pollinator-friendly plants aren’t just good for pollinators and our environment, they’re good looking! You won’t be sacrificing beautiful blooms, texture, height, color and more when you make the choice. For advice on how and when to plant and keep plants looking their best, check here.

See what we have available online by searching our Product Catalog for bestsellers in every plant category. Or stop into the garden center for even more choices, plus friendly, expert advice.

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