With bee conservation in mind, it’s a great idea to plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden or on your deck. But which ones are the best for bees? Certain flowers are loaded with nectar and pollen, these are the ones that bees love. Here are just a few you might consider planting this spring:
Ammi (False Queen Anne’s Lace)
A beautiful and easy to grow annual. It’s attractive to wild and domestic bees and is a great companion plant since it’s also attractive to predatory insects. Plant Ammi and let these natural scavengers eliminate garden pests.
Asclepias ( Butterfly Bush)
This perennial is listed everywhere for attracting butterflies, including the Monarch when planted in their range. The flowers are incredibly generous with nectar, so it’s also a magnet for wild and domestic bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. It’s a bit difficult to grown from seen but tubers are available for spring planting.
Bergamot (Bee Balm)
Both Lemon and Wild Bergamot bloom in late summer after many bee-friendly garden flowers have finished. But they are both wildly attractive to all manner of bees, as well as butterflies and hummingbirds. These tender perennials may or may not survive winter in coastal gardens, but they may self-sow from flowers that produce large numbers of seeds.
Celosia (Cock’s Comb)
Ideal for containers or raised beds, this striking annual produces vibrant red flowers that just scream out to bees. The seeds want an early start indoors in peat pots for best results.
Centaurea (Bachelor’s Buttons)
So easy to grow, Centaurea produces intensely blue flowers on individual stems. The flowers are edible, so they’re great for summer salads. But they’re also highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. You can grow this annual in pots.
Every garden, whatever the size, deserves at least one clump of multi-purpose chives. After producing its delicious and mildly onion flavoured leaves, it sends up a globe-shaped cluster of edible pink flowers that attract all kinds of bees. Chives can be grown as companion plants to repel aphids and at the same time attract predatory insects and pollinators. They work well in containers and raised beds so they are extremely versatile.
This is another easy to grow annual that’s available in a range of heights and flower colours. Plant Cosmos and the bees will come. Most varieties are relatively tall, so they’re usually planted in borders, but I have grown them successfully in pots on my deck. They’re easy to maintain and will bloom all summer.
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
These are great for cut flowers, but they’re also attractive to bees, hoverflies and other beneficial pollinators and predators. Echinacea tends to put on its best display during and after its third year of growth, but they’re worth the wait.
Useful as ornamental flowers and also as companion plants, Marigolds are easy to grow annuals that work well in containers, raised beds, or pretty much any other setting. And they produce pollen in sufficient quantities to attract mid-summer bumblebees and other pollinators.
The face of a sunflower is actually a landscape of tiny, individual flowers packed tightly together. The myriad, nectar-rich flowers open over weeks, first in the outer perimeter of the bloom, moving towards its centre. Because of the slow release of lots of pollen and nectar, bees will return to the same plant day after day. The unusual height of sunflowers makes them act like beacons in the garden, attracting bees from great distances. If that’s not enough, the larger varieties produce loads of edible seeds to be enjoyed by the gardener or left for wild birds.
This is another easy to grow annual that thrives in warm soil in full sun. Zinnia flowers are similar to dahlias in some ways, starting as a nearly round ball of petals, and slowly opening to reveal a pollen rich banquet for bees. You can grow then in containers, in raised beds and in the garden border.
That’s just a small selection of the thousands of flowers that attract and feed bees. By planting multiple varieties, the garden is made richer as an ecosystem, but the bees are also offered a much longer period in which to feed. If possible, try to find untreated organic seeds.
If you are stuck for space, and only have a tiny area to plant, consider simply planting a packet of low maintenance Bee Garden Blend. It will add a splash of bright colour to your deck or garden and the bees will be grateful too!