What to Plant
, Bayer Advanced
lawn and garden expert, says
good timing and soil
preparation are key when
planting wildflower seed in
When looking for bee-attractant plants, it’s important to select plants with flower colors that bees like (such as yellow, blue or purple). Lance also advises “planting for a long-season of color” by selecting plants that bloom across different seasons for year-round bee forage. For example, to extend the season for bees into the fall, Lance notes that in California, some fall-blooming plants include: Salvias, Pentstemons, Alyssum (an annual), Coneflowers, Gloriosa Daisy, Asters, and if they are planted late, even sunflowers.
He also says that choosing plants native to the region where you live is a great way to go. The Pollinator Partnership has a Bee Smart mobile app
that helps gardeners select the best native plants in their area to attract bees.
Many trees, including crabapples and redbuds, are also good options for planting in the fall, as trees often bloom early in the spring, offering foraging opportunities earlier in the season for bees. Planting trees and shrubs that attract bees provides food sources for years into the future.
Pollinator-attractant plants that can be grown in most areas of the United States include: Aster, Pentstemon, Bluebeard (Caryopteris), Catmints, Coneflower, Gaillardia, Lamb’s Ear, Lavender, Oregano, Redbud (tree), Rosemary, Rudbeckia, Salvias, Sunflower, Thyme, Tickseed (Coreopsis) and Yarrow.
Lance is well-known for some of his gardening books
, including Roses for Dummies
, so we asked him if roses attracted bees. “It really varies variety by variety,” he says. “A lot of the big hybrid tea roses, which have really tight blooms and upwards of 100 petals, don’t really open up to give easy access to the bees. But others, that have fewer petals and do open up, are attractive to bees. I know that my Iceberg® rose, which is a white rose, is frequently visited by bees. Color and fragrance also probably play a role in which roses bees find attractive.”
Lance says herbs also are a good bee-attractant choice for planting, including lavender, rosemary, and thyme. In addition, dill and fennel “have the big flower clusters that the bees love.” While summer gardens have plants such as cucumbers and squash that need pollinators, fall gardens tend to contain leafy vegetables that can become bitter if you allow them to bloom. However, Lance encourages gardeners to keep bees in mind: “As an alternative if you didn’t get all of your lettuce or broccoli picked, go ahead and leave it there, and if it blooms, it will attract the bees.”
Did you know that many wildflower seed mixes include both annuals and perennials and a mix of flowers that will bloom at different times of the year? Many are also specifically formulated for attracting pollinators.