10 Plants for a Pollinator Garden

It’s #pollinatorweek, so I’m highlighting some great plants for a beautiful pollinator garden. In this list, I’ve included mostly perennials, with a few shrubs and trees. I also included several native plants in the list, as these are truly the most beneficial for our pollinator (and other wildlife) friends. Choosing perennials, shrubs, and trees with nectar/pollen sources throughout the year helps build a lasting ecosystem.

So without further ado, here are 10 plants for your pollinator garden.

1. PowWow Wild Berry Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Pas702917’)

Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

This summer-blooming perennial is a pollinator-magnet with its deep-pink daisy-like blooms.

Echinacea has lots of great nectar and pollen, making it well worth a visit by bees, butterflies, and birds alike. Although it appears that the pink petals and everything in between would constitute as one flower, there are actually hundreds of tiny flowers (called disk florets) in each one. The amber spikes in the center of each “cone” are individual disk florets, and the pink “petals” are actually bracts (modified leaves). If you watch closely, you’ll notice pollinators circling around the cone, visiting each disk floret to sip nectar or gather pollen.

  • Perennial
  • 18-24″ tall x 12-16″ wide
  • Full sun – part sun
  • For continuous blooms all summer long, it is recommend that you deadhead these often.

2. Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)

Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

Being a native plant means that Clethra is very easy to take care of. This is because native plants have adapted overtime to thrive in our local climate and conditions. It’s remarkably free of any disease or insect problems, and can tolerate a range of clay to sandy soils, as well as salt-sprays.

The spike-like, upright clusters of fragrant white flowers bloom July–August and attract butterflies and bees. The shrub’s leaves turn yellow to golden brown in fall.

  • Deciduous shrub
  • 5–8 ft. tall and wide
  • Full sun – part shade
  • Native

3. Little Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Source: WikiMedia Commons

Summer blooming perennial with clusters of bright yellow, flat-topped clusters of blooms on stalks with gray-green fern-like foliage.

Attracts pollinators, butterflies, and hawk moths. It’s a native that can be found in fields, meadows, roadsides, clearings, and upland forests. This plant is tolerant to a range of soils and water conditions. Common Yarrow can be used in fresh or dried arrangements and has a pleasing fragrance.

  • Perennial
  • A compact variety that grows 12-14″ tall x 14-16″ wide
  • Full sun – part sun
  • Native
  • Blooms June-August

4. Mesa Bright Bicolor Blanketflower (Gaillardia × grandiflora)

Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

Blanketflower is a fuss-free plant that is drought-tolerant when established. The bright yellow flowers with a copper red center bloom from summer to fall and attract an array of pollinators. Fun fact, the width of the red band is actually dependent on temperature.

  • Perennial
  • 16-18″ tall x 18-23″ wide
  • Full – part sun
  • Very long bloom season

5. Flip Side Chaste Tree (Vitex)

Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

These panicles of deep purple flowers tend to be a favorite for all types of bees. This Flip Side variety is named for its leaves, which are a greyish olive color on top and a dusty purple underneath.

  • Deciduous shrub to small tree
  • 6-8′ tall x 8-10′ wide
  • Full sun

6.Sun Valley Maple (Acer rubrumSun Valley‘)

pollinator garden
Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

A native variety of maple that performs super well in our climate. Winter buds, clusters of small winter spring flowers, leaf stems, twigs, and winged summer fruits are all reddish colored. The glossy green leaves persist on the tree turning orange-red to brilliant red in the fall.

  • Deciduous tree
  • 60′ tall x 30′ wide
  • Full sun – part shade

7. Prairie Cascade Weeping Willow (Salix “Prairie Cascade”)

pollinator garden
Source: PeakPX

This nativar (native cultivar) Willow has a beautiful weeping structure with very glossy, dark green foliage on golden stems turning yellow in fall. Trees like this provide much-needed habitat for our local wildlife!

  • Deciduous tree
  • 30′ tall x 40′ wide
  • Full – part sun

8. Real Dream Shasta Daisy

pollinator garden
Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

Long-lasting, large flowers rise out of a lush mound of coarse, dark green, disease-resistant foliage. Excellent for containers and sunny borders, with great tolerance to heat, drought, and humidity.

An incredible diversity of insects feed from the tiny yellow disk flowers (like the Echinacea above) on a daily basis when the plants are in bloom. And as an important added bonus, the flower stalks of the Shasta daisy are hollow. So, if you deadhead the plants at the end of the growing season and leave their flower stalks standing, the hollow tubes make excellent overwintering habitat for many of our smaller native bee species.

  • Perennial
  • 16-18″ tall x 16-20″ wide
  • Full sun
  • Blooms in summer and again in fall
  • Water regularly – weekly, or more often in extreme heat or containers.

9. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’)

pollinator garden
Source: WikiMedia Commons

Bright, golden yellow, daisy-like flowers with a dark brown center. Look great in mass plantings for a meadow-feel. Blooms July through September.

  • Perennial
  • Grows 24″ tall x 18″ wide
  • Full sun
  • Water frequently the first year, but drought tolerant years after that

10. Autumn Joy Sedum (Hylotelephium herbstsfreude)

pollinator garden
Source: Jack Frost Garden Center

Perennial with succulent leaves and fluffy blooms. The interesting-shaped foliage supply year-round beauty. In summer, eye-catching, star-shaped flowers are usually in clusters or sprays that often change color throughout their bloom time. A real bee-magnet! When it blooms, it’s constantly covered with all types of bees. I love Sedum because it’s one of the few succulents that survives year-round in the Hampton Roads area.

  • Perennial
  • 24″ tall and wide
  • Full sun
  • Likes to stay on the drier side.

You can currently find all of these and other plants that pollinators LOVE at our garden center! Just ask one of our friendly staff members to help you find “plants for a pollinator garden” 🙂

AND for a successful pollinator garden, in addition to planting pollinator-friendly plants, you should also be choosing organic methods of fertilizing and pest/disease control. Click HERE to check out our previous blog post about one of our favorite all-natural fertilizers.

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