We need pollinators! You can hand-pollinate a single plant or two, but on the large scale it’s absolutely essential that insects and other animals do it for you. Bees, of course, are the most famous but flies, moths, butterflies, and even bats are also among the other important little critters you want to attract to your garden. And how do you bring them in (and also encourage their healthy and productive future)? By growing the plants they love. Here are our top 10 plants for pollinators in the garden.
1. Dandelion – Who has ever planted a dandelion? Maybe you won’t be sowing beds of the things, but you really shouldn’t fight the ones that come up naturally. Dandelions come out in early spring, right when bees start gathering pollen to start the year, and they’re extremely beneficial.
2. Raspberry – What could be better? A plant both you and the bees think tastes amazing. In addition to raspberry, other popular berries like blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are great for pollinators, too.
3. Sunflower – Sunflower plants are late summer bloomers and a favorite of both bees and butterflies.
4. Milkweed – You’re not planting this one for its flowers. Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs only on milkweed plants. And while they and their children are around, they’ll feed on and pollinate all the flowers in the neighborhood.
5. Black-Eyed Susan – Another late summer plant, black-eyed susan has cone-shaped flowers which give plenty of space and food to passing bugs.
6. Mint – Want something other than flowers? Mint is a useful and extremely vigorous herb that bees love when it blossoms. It can get unruly, though, so it’s best grown in a pot.
7. Peony – This popular flowering perennial will be a hit in your garden and with the pollinators. Just remember – it’s best to opt for a variety with more open petals and a clearly visible center. Some of the fuller, fluffier peony flowers are too dense for many bees.
8. Goldenrod – A striking wildflower, goldenrod attracts not just bees but also pollinating flies. Not the big nasty black flies, but their smaller, more helpful cousins.
9. Foxglove – Big bell-shaped flowers on foxglove plants give bees a nice landing ground to collect their pollen and nectar.