Plants for Pollinators
Whether talking about the domestic non-native honeybee or native pollinators such as bumblebees and sweat bees, plants play a huge role in the health and wellness of pollinators. Specific plants can be especially beneficial in building the immune system and providing good nutrition to pollinators and are often easy to plant and sustain with little care. In light of the issues facing native pollinators today with the changes in environmental factors and the widespread use of pesticides, an easy and simple way to help these pollinators, as well as honeybees, is to put some of these plants in your garden or backyard!
Agastache scrophulariifolia – Purple Giant Hyssop
This plant has purple flowers that bloom from July to September and have a high nectar content that is apparently rich and sour. It attracts all kinds of pollinators, from honey bees to native bees, and It will even attract butterflies. The plant can grow as tall as 6 feet with a scent slightly resembling anise and is adapted to northeastern climates.
Solidago rigida – Stiff Goldenrod
Goldenrod is a classic and an obvious one but there are many different species within the Solidago genus. Stiff Goldenrod is an especially resilient species. Like the Purple Giant Hyssop, this plant can be rather tall and will usually grow between 2-5 feet tall. The flower is incredibly hearty and can withstand many kinds of weather including high winds and drought. The flowers are a bright and cheerful yellow that bloom around July or August and will last up through October. This plant, and all types of goldenrod, are especially beneficial for bees as it supplies a hefty amount of pollen for the bees before the winter.
Pycnanthemum muticum – Mountain mint
Despite the name, the mountain mint species belongs to a different family than true mints, though they still have a similar smell and a strong minty flavor. Clustered mountain mint, one of its many species, has relatively simple white flowers and around 3-foot stalks with broad dark green leaves. This perennial will bloom around July up to October and is relatively hands-off as it’s a hearty plant that requires little care to do well. Mountain mint is the top plant for pollinators according to a Penn State study which makes this plant a no-brainer given its low maintenance status.
Calendula – Pot Marigold
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a shorter flowering plant that is part of the Asteraceae family which is the reason for its daisy-like appearance. In most climates, Calendula is a flowering annual that is often self-sowing in growing zones 3-9 and with deadheading it can actually rebloom through spring and fall, making it a stable pollen source throughout the season. Besides being a great plant to attract pollinators, the flowers of the Calendula are also edible and great in salads!
Symphyotrichum ericoides – White Heath Aster
Like the Pot Marigold, this species is also within the Asteraceae family that is a perennial with daisy-like flowers. The white flowers come off of highly branched stems that come off the main stalk which can grow up to 5 feet tall. Its many branches and compact structure produces a plethora of these small white blooms which makes it ideal for pollen gathering. This is another low maintenance plant and it blooms in the fall, providing pollen for native pollinators and honeybees and attracting butterflies.
These are just a few of the many different plants that are beneficial for pollinators. There are many other kinds, especially climate-specific species, to meet a variety of gardening needs.
Whether you’re looking for an annual or a perennial, an early bloomer or a late bloomer, or even a high or low maintenance plant, there’s bound to be something you can plant and know you’re helping pollinators in the process.