With the increase in awareness regarding the decline of native bee populations, many home gardeners are now creating pollinator safe zones in their yard. These safe zones are areas where you don’t use chemicals or pesticide sprays but instead grow a selection of pollinator food source plants. When planning a pollinator garden, think native! Native plants are more likely to attract native bees. Below are some suggestions for low maintenance, hardy perennials for a pollinator garden.
Coneflower – A tough, native wildflower for pollinator gardens. Coneflowers are a low maintenance, easy to grow perennial for a sunny area. Once established they are relatively drought tolerant. The cheerful bloom will attract butterflies and pollinating bees to your yard. Later in the season birds will enjoy the dried seed heads so don’t cut them off!
Shasta Daisy – This native wildflower is easy to grow and loves the sun! There are many shasta daisy cultivars out there which are easy to find at your local plant nursery. Some of the newer varieties have masses of petals which cover the yellow center but don’t select one of these when creating a pollinator garden. You will want the flat, open center to give pollinators a place to land.
Gaillardia – or blanket flower is a native wildflower to grow in tough, dry areas. The cheerful yellow to orange flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and your garden will always have bees when this plant is in bloom! A sun loving, low maintenance perennial which does not like to be over watered.
Pincushion Flower – Scabiosa caucasic, perennial pincushion flower. An herbaceous perennial with a long blooming season. Great for the sun garden, pincushion flower a favorite of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. It is drought tolerant and hardy. Colors are white, purple and blue shades.
Salvia – There are several different types of perennial salvia plants which can be commonly found at nurseries. They are available in a variety of colors to blend with a garden design. Colors may be pink, white, red or purple and the tube shaped flower makes them easy for pollinators to feed from.
Speedwell Veronica – A sun loving perennial with tall flower spikes in purple, blue, pink or white. They are a favorite of pollinators and butterflies. Cut back the spent flowers for a rebloom! Speedwell Veronica will also attract hummingbirds to your yard. Drought tolerant.
Stokes Aster – A cheerful flower that is perfect for a low maintenance garden, Stokes Aster has a long blooming season in early to mid summer. Deadhead spent flowers for a late season rebloom but leave the second set of blooms on the plant. Songbirds will eat the seeds and thank you for our effort.
Black Eyed Susan -One of our native wildflowers and a must have for the pollinator garden. Black Eyed Susan is ideal for tough, dry spots or naturalizing seep banks and sunny erosion areas. This bright flower blooms in mid summer and is sure to bring butterflies and bees to a yard.
New England Aster – Native New England asters are an important food source for pollinators. They flower in late summer and early fall, offing bees a food source at a time of year when it is growing scarce. They are an easy care wildflower which can be planted in natural areas, containers or borders.
Yarrow – Yarrow can be another effective plant for the pollinator garden. The flat flower clusters are idea for bees to feed from and they bloom later in the season which can help to keep a food source in constant supply. Yarrow can be invasive so be sure to plant a clump forming variety and avoid those which spread by runners.