When planning a garden for your home, consider creating a pollinator garden that attracts bees and butterflies. Pollinator gardens are important because they provide food for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which encourages them to stay nearby.
Why Attract Bees?
Attracting bees are good for us and for the bees. Pollinator gardens support bees by providing them food, from the pollen and nectar in the garden. Many people like having pollinators in their garden to help pollinate their fruit and vegetable plants.
Pollinators so important to our food system because many plants are dependent on pollination in order to produce fruit. Right now, it is estimated that 75% of food crops in the US need pollinators to survive.
Types of Plants
When planning a garden, you need to decide what type of plants you would like. You can choose from annuals, perennials, and biennials, or a mixture of the three.
Annuals are plants that live for one growing season. After they have bloomed for the season, they will die off in the winter. Gardeners like annuals because they grow quickly and tend to have a long bloom season. Annuals usually have minimal issues with pest and disease, and are perfect for filling in areas where perennials are beginning to grow.
Perennials, on the other hand, can live for several growing seasons. They provide great ground cover and do not need to be planted every year.. Because of perennials deep root system, they also tend to require less maintenance than annuals.
Biennials are plants that live for two seasons, however, they do not bloom until the second season. The first year they will germinate and grow roots and leaves, then go dormant. Then the second year they will produce flowers.
What Flower Are Bees Most Attracted To?
Bees are attracted to a lot of different flowers – annuals, perennials, and biennials, as long as the plant produces enough pollen and nectar. If don’t want to wait a whole year for flowers, you may not want biennials.
Also, keep in mind that some annual flowers are bred in a way that produce showy flowers, but little pollen and nectar. These type of plants would not likely attract many pollinators.
Annuals that Attract Bees
Annuals are great for pollinator gardens because they grow quickly and bloom longer. They are also easy to grow and are usually inexpensive. Annual flowers are a great addition to any flower bed, as they come in many vivid colors.
That being said, there are many annuals that attract bees and other pollinators. Let’s look at a few of them below.
Commonly called the “pot marigold”, the calendula is in the same family as chrysanthemums and daisies. These flowers grow very quickly. They should be planted in the spring, and will flower 6-8 weeks from seeding. The sweet nectar of the calendula attracts both bees and butterflies.
Cosmos look like daisies, and come in many different colors, such as pink, white, yellow, and orange. They bloom quickly in the summer through fall. Not only are cosmos easy to grow, they are also great pollinators.
Sunflowers are not only a popular summer flower, they are ideal to attract many bees and other pollinators. Sunflowers are excellent pollinators because they produce a large amount of nectar and pollen.
Furthermore, their flat face make it easy for bees and butterflies to land on. There are different varieties of sunflower, ranging from 2 feet to 8 feet in height.
Snapdragons are named such because their flower heads resemble the snout of a dragon. Bumblebees enjoy these flowers, as they are able to reach down to the base of the flower to reach the pollen.
Zinnias are a great addition to any garden because they are easy to grow and come in many different colors. They grow quickly, are low maintenance, and attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and of course bees.
Dahlias are gorgeous flowers that are grown from tubers. If you are planting dahlias for a pollinator garden, be sure to choose the right one.
Open types of dahilias are popular with pollinators. Their centers are easily accessible for them to get food. However, fully double petaled varieties make it difficult for bees and butterflies to get to the pollen.
The cornflower got it’s name because of it’s tendency to grow freely in cornfields. However, because of the overuse of herbicides, cornflowers have been experiencing a tremendous disappearance in the wild. In fact, in some areas, cornflowers are considered an endangered native plant.
Nowadays, cornflower seeds are often placed in wildflower seed packets. Bees love cornflowers because they produce a lot of nectar. Once bloomed the flower head stays open for a long time as well, giving bees ample time to feed.
The three types of plants are annuals, perennials, and biennials. Annuals are good for pollinator gardens because they grow quickly and bloom longer. Some annuals that attract bees are sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias.