21 best plants for pollinators

Grow these spring and summer bloomers to make your garden irresistible to the nectar lovers you need

Aster x frikartii

Photo by Mark Turner

Aster x frikartii

In early summer to fall, butterflies often sun as they sip on these daisylike blooms. Perennial; full sun.

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Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)

Photo by Doreen L. Wynja

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii)

Slender cones of flowers in spring and summer. Evergreen or deciduous; sun to light shade.

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Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Photo by Doreen L. Wynja

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Slender cones of flowers in spring and summer. Evergreen or deciduous; sun to light shade.

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Fennel

Photo by Mark Turner

Fennel

Airy umbrellas of yellow florets in summer also attract bees. Annual or perennial; full sun.

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Lantana

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters

Lantana

Tiny flowers in tight clusters all year in mild climates. Evergreen shrub (annual in colder climate); full sun.

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Bee balm (Monarda)

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters

Bee balm (Monarda)

Clusters of long-tubed flowers in summer also attract hummingbirds. Perennial; sun, or light shade in hottest climates.

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Borage (Borago officinalis)

Photo by Kimberley Navabpour

Borage (Borago officinalis)

Star-shaped flowers appear in summer. Annual; sun or partial shade.

 

Oregano

Photo by GAP Photos Ltd.

Oregano

Draws bees and hummingbirds as long as you let the plants flower. Perennial herb; sun or partial shade.

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Sunflower

Photo by Ernst Kucklich

Sunflower

Bright and bold, they’re beacons for honeybees. Be sure to choose pollen-bearing varieties. Annual; full sun.

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Sweet alyssum

Photo by Andrea Gómez Romero

Sweet alyssum

Honey-scented blooms are, of course, a natural for bees. Annual; full sun or light shade.

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Alstroemeria

Photo by Linda Lamb Peters

Alstroemeria

Summer blossoms are great for bouquets, but leave a few on the plant for hummingbirds. Perennial; sun (afternoon shade in hot climates).

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Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)

Photo by David Dixon / Getty Images

Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)

Tubular flowers with furry coats cluster along stems in summer and fall. Evergreen shrub; full sun.

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Penstemon

Photo by Charles Mann

Penstemon

Blooms come in many colors, from deep purple to blue, red, and pink. Perennial; partial shade in hottest climates.

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Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

Photo by PlantHaven

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)

Flowering stems resemble glowing torches—or pokers (hence the name). Perennial; sun or part shade.

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Salvia

Photo by Kimberley Navabpour

Salvia

Among our favorites, pineapple sage (S. elegans) produces red blooms in early fall and S. ‘Indigo Spires’, deep blue in summer; both are perennials. Sun.

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Lavender

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Lavender

Fragrant flowers all year in mild climates. Evergreen shrub (annual in colder climates).

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Gloriosa daisy

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Gloriosa daisy

Rudbeckia hirta flowers in shades of yellow, bronze, and deep red; most have knobby brown centers. Short-lived perennial or biennial.

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Pincushion flower

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Pincushion flower

Blue, pink, or white Scabiosa flowers resemble pincushions filled with needles. Annuals and perennials.

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Blanket flower

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Blanket flower

Daisylike Gaillardia blooms come in red, yellow, and bronze hues. G. x grandiflora ‘Frenzy’ is pictured. Perennial.

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Coneflower

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Coneflower

Daisylike Echinacea blossoms in pinks, yellows, oranges, or white have domed centers. Perennial.

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Yarrow

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Yarrow

Achillea clusters of yellow, salmon, lavender, red, or white make ideal landing pads for butterflies. Perennial.

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