Bees play an important role in every garden. They pollinate flowers and kill harmful insects.
However, bees are currently in danger. Growing bee friendly plants is one of the ways to attract and preserve them. It also helps your garden grow and thrive.
We reached out to experts to ask what plants & flowers they grow to attract bees to their garden.. Here are the most interesting takeaways from their answer:
- Colors that attract bees the most: purple, violet, and blue.
- You should provide accessible water sources for bees.
- They warn against using herbicides and pesticides as it can cause harm to bees.
- Flowers that bee like: bright colors and strong aroma flowers, such as lavender, borage, cosmos,…
Here’s a handy Table of Content so you could skip to the experts you like:
Kelly Gordon from Daisy Rain Garden Systems
Our herb garden attracted bees all summer long. They were particularly drawn to the chives, thyme, and rosemary.
Bees are primarily in your garden for nectar and pollen, so reward them with flowers that have exposed anthers. Different flowers have their peak pollination at different times of the year, so make sure your garden has a wide variety to keep the bees coming back all year long.
Bees, like all other animals, need water and in the late summer/early fall water is scarce. Consider installing Sprinkler Pots and Sprinkler Saucers to keep both your bees and your plants thriving.
Rosie Leary from Candide Gardening
This plant enjoys a sunny spot in the garden. They can be annuals, herbaceous perennials or shrubs and many are hugely popular, both for kitchen use and with pollinating wildlife.
It may be grown in pots and grow well in well-draining soil. Remember to deadhead spent blooms to encourage further flowering.
Rosemary is a bushy evergreen shrub and one of the world’s best-loved herb plants. This plant produces small and delicate flowers, they appear throughout the year from spring onwards, providing food for visiting bees over a long period.
Borage is a great choice for encouraging pollinating insect wildlife into your garden! The star-shaped flowers are edible and this hairy species is part of the Royal Horticultural Society “Plants for Pollinators” initiative to showcase plants which support pollinator populations by providing ample amounts of nectar and/ or pollen.
Borage is great for beginner gardeners and those that like low maintenance gardens, its commonly grown as a wildflower and has been reported to refill its nectar supplies every 2 minutes, providing an abundance of energy to visiting bees.
Easy to grow from seed, it can reach 2m in height and produces loads of small purple flowers.
It is a very popular garden plant, providing great architectural height at the back of a border or partial screening along pathways. It is also an excellent choice for encouraging pollinating insect wildlife such as bees into your garden!
Cosmos may be annual or perennial plants and most are really easy to grow from seed. The flowers come in a huge range of bright colours, appearing in the summer.
Sow seeds once all chances of frost have passed, they take around 7 weeks from seed to flower. Many will self seed, deadhead the flowers once they have finished to encourage more flowers and prevent them from popping up anywhere.
Many Hellebores, particularly those that flower in the winter and early in spring can provide a desperately needed source of food for bees when other flowers are scarce. They suit growing in shadier locations and don’t like to be moved once established.
A stunning small deciduous tree, with showy white flowers in spring, berries and excellent autumn colour. It has been recommended by The British Beekeepers Association as an early nectar plant.
Armenian Grape Hyacinth
Armenian Grape Hyacinth can naturalise easily and so should be planted with care.
This early spring flowering perennial bulb will often be found covered in bees foraging through the clumps of sweet-smelling, nectar-rich, bell-shaped blooms.
The Magnolia is known for its showy display in spring. This deciduous tree is best grown as a freestanding specimen or against an evergreen backdrop.
The saucer-shaped, spring flowers provide rich nectar for hungry bees.
Solomon’s Seal is an elegant woodland cottage garden plant that produces paired leaves on arching stems and delicate green-tipped, white, bell-shaped flowers. The long-lasting flowers are a really good feast for bees, appearing from spring all the way through to late summer.
This plant is easily divided or it may be grown from seed, but will take around 3 years to flower. Grow in partial shade, out of midday sun and keep well watered until it is established.
Ice Plants are always covered in bees! Their flowers last into autumn, providing a later source of food for pollinators when other flowers are fading.
This succulent plant needs plenty of light and well-draining soil. It is hardy and can cope with freezing temperatures so may be grown outside all year round.
Yes weeds, there are loads of common garden weeds and many of them produce pollen and nectar which bees can utilise just the same as cultivated garden plants.
Dandelions are a fantastic source of nectar and pollen, providing food early in spring to bees emerging from winter hibernation. If you can, mow lawns less frequently to allow dandelions to grow and support those hungry bees, especially during colder months.
Let’s see this in incredible work:
Gina Harper from Harper’s Nurseries
I’m always delighted to see bees in my garden. They play a crucial role in pollinating plants and flowers but their numbers are sadly in decline.
To create a bee-friendly garden, you could see a colony in no time simply by choosing the right plants.
My bees seem to love Sunflowers. Just like me, they love the color yellow.
Sunflowers are very easy to grow and as their name suggests, love the Sun. They should be planted in a sunny spot in soil with good drainage. Regular watering will help them bloom and they can grow taller than 10 feet!
Bees are fantastic little creatures and not only will they help your garden thrive, but they could also give you delicious honey.
Jane Clarke from Fantastic Gardeners Melbourne
There’s a reason for its name! Also called Bergamot, it flowers with beautiful white, pink and purple shades. Bee balm is a fragrant, perennial herb, which bees adore.
Most preferred by stingless bees, Hakea Laurina is a small evergreen that can be grown both as a tree or a shrub.
It blooms for April to August and is widely cultivated in Southwest Australia. It’s very beautiful and can be a great addition to your backyard.
It’s a perennial plant, which blooms with large white, pink and purple flowers. It’s also called Joe Pye weed, it is very easy to start growing it from stem cuttings in spring.
Bees also love other herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, lemon balm and mint.
Roger Lee from CozyChew
It is known as a plant that is very rich in nectar for most insects including bees.
Some tips that help when take care your lavender:
- You should use a flower pot, it’s easy to move around your garden and you can add some gravel at bottom to drain water.
- Make sure that when you change pot, the roots don’t contact your gravel.
It’s color is visible to bees like lavender. Remember to avoid fertilizing too much as it will promote leaf growth over flower production and bee love flowers not leaf.
Michael from Thepoolgardener
Once bees awake from hibernation they go from plant to plant collecting nectar and pollen for themselves and their larvae to eat.
Most commonly grown vegetables and fruits are insect pollinated and require these little guys for pollination or they will not produce the food we all eat. Hand pollination is a possibility but impractical for fields of plants.
Having flowers that bloom throughout the season and stay in bloom for longer is a good idea. Having flowers available from spring to late summer will keep bees coming to your garden and well fed for longer.
If you have the space a fruit tree is a great bee attractor with its huge amount of flowers in a small space.
Remember not to treat your plants with insecticides or herbicides or you’ll be hurting the bee population and not helping. Neem oil is a great organic product that should help protect your plants if you have insect or disease problems like powdery mildew.
Bees are attracted to plants by flowers with bright colors and strong aromas. The following all have a combination of these two and that combination will also attract butterflies and birds.
Salvia Bee’s Bliss
Salvia Bee’s Bliss has a similar looking flower to lavender but is known for having flowers that are rich in nectar.
Oregano has a pungent smell and flowers that are easy for all types of bees to access. It’s also great in the kitchen and has antibacterial properties.
Other plants that are known to be good bee attractors are coneflower, butterfly bush, catmint, honeysuckle, dahlia, foxglove, thyme, ivy, crocus, rosemary, and snapdragons.
Dan Bailey from WikiLawn
Many species of honey bees aren’t especially picky. They love wildflowers that are native to your area, but also enjoy a variety of other plants.
One of the easiest things you can do that takes very little maintenance is starting an herb garden. Mint, thyme, sage, and basil are easy to grow and bees love them.
You can make an herb box to put outside with a water source nearby and you’ll find bees foraging over there all the time.
If fruit and vegetable gardens are more your style, choose your favorite fruits and vegetables and you’ll attract bees.
Tomatoes are easy to grow. So are strawberries. Cucumbers are also a great choice.
In terms of flowers, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of sunflowers, lilacs, and honeysuckle. These aren’t always the easiest to care for, so I’d recommend a more advanced grower choose this option.
The most important things to remember though are that you should group the same types of plants together and provide an accessible water source to keep attracting bees.
Zachary Smith from Smith’s Pest Management
I’m a huge fan of Manzanita shrubs for bees. These beautiful shrubs flower in the winter time, and on sunny winter days you’ll see a tremendous amount of honeybee activity around them.
What’s more, they’re very easy to take care of because they’re very drought tolerant; all they need is decent drainage and moderate fertilizer with very little pruning.
Manzanita varieties come in many shapes and sizes, from small trees to low growing ground cover. My favorite are the pink flowering shrub varieties. But any Manzanita will bring beautiful bees to your garden in the winter time.
These salvias require only one hard pruning a year, and the rest of the year you can just leave them to grow on their own.
They don’t need much water, and there really is very little else to do. They flower frequently and the bees and hummingbirds love them!
A female Allen’s Hummingbird does her thing on Mexican Sage plant:
There are many choices for bee friendly plants. You can choose fruit trees, flowers, herbs or any combination of the three.
Remember to make sure the flowers overlaps throughout the season so bees won’t run out of food. However, be mindful when you want to use herbicides or pesticides on plants.
Taking good care of these plants will do a good job of attracting bees. We hope that our article can help you to determine your most suitable bee friendly plants!