Current issues with honeybee health and declining native bee populations are very concerning. What is well known in the research community is that a variety of bee friendly plants is very important in maintaining the health of all bees. In this article we will look at what the general public can do for their part and give information about some important plants that can be used and two important sources of further information for planting bee gardens.

Pollinators require two essential components in their habitat, somewhere to nest and flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. Native plants are undoubtedly the best source of food for pollinators, because plants and pollinators have coevolved. Many varieties of garden plants are also good for these important insects.

In many landscapes, flowers have been pushed to the margins, surviving on roadsides and field edges as well as in wild areas and gardens. Providing patches of flowers is one thing we can do to improve the environment for pollinators. Creating foraging habitat not only helps the bees, butterflies and flies that pollinate these plants, but also results in beautiful, appealing landscapes.

List of Common Plants

What to Plant? Below is a list of common plants for those who want to attract pollinators to their garden, it is a simple list of plants readily available in most nurseries. These plants are not known to be invasive, but always research invasive plants in your area and never plant invasive species. While the generic plants listed below are fine for most areas, go to the resources that follow to get more specific native plants for your ecoregion-the native plants that are adapted to your climate.

  • Lavandula spp. (Lavender)
  • Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
  • Salvia spp. (Sage)
  • Echinacea spp. (Coneflower)
  • Helianthus spp. (Sunflower)
  • Cercis spp. (Redbud)
  • Nepeta spp. (Catnip)
  • Penstemon spp. (Penstemon)
  • Stachys spp. (Lambs ears)
  • Verena spp. (Verbena)
  • Phacelia spp. (Bells or Phacelia)
  • Aster spp. (Aster)
  • Rudbeckia spp. (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Origanulm spp. (Oregano)
  • Achilliea millefolium (Yarrow)



The Xerces Society
“COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: We’re happy for you to copy this fact sheet or to use this text elsewhere, as our aim is to get the information spread far and wide! Please just credit The Xerces Society whenever the text is used in another format. The photograph, however, is copyrighted and may not be used in any way except in this fact sheet. If you are interested in photos of bees, please contact us.”

Attracting Native Pollinators

Xerces most recent, book, Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, is available for purchase from their website by clicking the link. At 380 pages, Attracting Native Pollinators provides dramatically expanded breadth and detail, reflecting the latest understanding about creating and managing pollinator habitat. The book is Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations.
The Pollinator Partnership is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization– the largest organization in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. Without the actions of pollinators agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.
Under the tab for planting guides you can type in your zipcode and a printable ecoregion document can be downloaded to give a large selection of bee friendly natives that can be planted.

A smart phone App can also be found at this site .

With the Bee Smart™ Pollinator Gardener’s easy user interface, browse through a database of nearly 1,000 native plants. Filter your plants by what pollinators you want to attract, light and soil requirements, bloom color, and plant type.
This is an excellent plant reference to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, bats, and other pollinators to the garden, farm, school and every landscape.

Features include:
• Nearly 1,000 pollinator friendly plants native to the United States.
• Customizable plant lists based on your preferences including pollinator type, flower color, soil type, sunlight and plant type.
• Regionally specific plant lists based on the geographical and ecological attributes of your location (your ecoregion) just by entering your zip code!
• A wide variety of perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, and vines to browse.
• An easy to use search option for querying on common or botanical plant names.
• Colorful plant images.
• Once you’ve created your customized plant list by starring your favorites, simply bring it to a nursery or garden center – never forget what to buy or plant again!

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