My Favorite Pollinator Plants

By Amy Grant | November 5, 2021
Image by Anna Grigorjeva
by Amy Grant
November 5, 2021

Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog) is aware that I adore flowering perennials. The sheer diversity boosts season-round interest in my landscape, plus many of these bloomers are favorites of all important pollinators. 

Perennials for Pollinators

It would be almost impossible for me to pick a favorite flowering perennial, but the bees, pollinating flies, butterflies, beetles and hummingbirds definitely prefer some over others. 

So which pollinator plants win with the pollinators? In my garden there is a good dozen or more that seem to attract these helpful insects on a regular basis but if I were to list just five they would be bee balm, Joe Pye weed, liatris, milkweed and penstemon. 

  • Bee balm or wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) has a name indicative of its pollinating power and in fact has been listed as a valuable nectar plant for monarchs, although sadly I never did get to see one of these beauties feeding on mine. 
  • Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) bears large clusters of late summer blooms that attract the aforementioned monarchs as well as other showy butterflies, native bees and other polliantors. 
  • Liatris or blazing star (Liatris spicata) is a perennial native to the prairies of North America. The tall spires of purple, white or rose blooms attract a multitude of butterflies and moths. Clumping in form, liatris spreads readily via underground corms or dropped seeds. 
  • What can I say about milkweed? A lot actually. Milkweed, otherwise known as butterfly weed, is a lengthy bloomer found in hues of orange, yellow/orange to pinkish/orange. Asclepis tuberosa is a valuable food plant for the scarce Monarch butterfly. In fact milkweed is the caterpillars’ only food source, but other nectar feeders flock to milkweed as well. 
  • There are many varieties of penstemon, many of which are native to the Pacific Northwest, my home. Also referred to as beardtongues, the bell shaped flowers attract all manner of nectar feeders. With over 300 species, there is a penstemon for every landscape from rock garden to xeriscape each doing the important work of nourishing our pollinators. 

I could go on and on about pollinating plants, but suffice it to say that incorporating some into your landscape is a win/win. Not only will you be rewarded with their beautiful blooms year after year, but the necessary work of bees and other pollinators will be supported as well. Remember, the hum of bees is the voice of the garden and without them, all would be silent.

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