10 Pollinator Friendly Plants That’ll Bring All the Birds and Bees to Your Yard

The expression “busy as a bee” certainly applies when it comes to our tiny garden visitors that carry minuscule pollen grains from flower to flower. Those industrious insects—along with other pollinators such as moths, wasps, butterflies and hummingbirds—are doing the hard work of transferring pollen so that plants can reproduce and make fruits and seeds. Without their help, there’s no food! The scary thing is that pollinator populations, especially bees and butterflies, are declining, likely due to pesticide misuse and habitat destruction, says Penn State University. But there’s plenty we can all do to help them thrive in our gardens. Plus, nothing’s more beautiful than seeing a jewel-toned hummingbird flit from flower to flower or a plump bee tumbling out of a dewy blossom.

Here are the most beautiful pollinator friendly plants to attract them to your garden:

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1. Cuphea

Cuphea, also called firecracker plant, is a gorgeous annual that comes in brilliant shades of red, purple and orange with tubular flowers that are hummingbird magnets.

Cuphea loves the heat, but keep it watered. It also needs full sun, so avoid planting them in shady spots.

2. Scarlet Runner Bean

This vining plant needs a sturdy trellis or garden structure to climb. Its small reddish-orange flowers are beautiful, and hummingbirds adore them. Bonus: The beans are edible! The more you pick, the more it produces. It needs full sun.

3. Catmint

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the spikes of lavender flowers on this hardy perennial. It’s tough enough to withstand drought, but it also tolerates even the coldest winters. It blooms for weeks and can be cut back to encourage new blooms. This plant likes full sun but will tolerate some shade.

4. Herbs

Almost all culinary herbs—which have surprisingly pretty flowers—attract pollinators. You’ll be able to harvest the leaves for cooking, while the pollinators enjoy the blooms. Chives, thyme, mint and sage are good perennial choices, while basil, fennel and parsley are annuals. Most herbs need full sun.

5. Fuchsia

This stunning annual looks smashing in a hanging basket or window box. Its exotic-looking blooms come in deep reds and purples, and it blooms all season long, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Fuchsia needs partial to full shade.

6. Bee Balm

All sorts of pollinators love the pink, purple or red fringed blooms of this tough-as-nails perennial. Plant these heat- and cold-tolerant flowers in masses for the best visual effect. It’s also easier for pollinators to find them if you plant in “drifts” so they don’t have to search for a single plant like a needle in a haystack. Likes full sun to partial shade.

7. Sweet Alyssum

Bees and butterflies enjoy the teeny honey-scented blooms of this lovely low-growing annual. Alyssum is particularly attractive cascading from a large pot or window box, and it even survives a light frost. Likes full to partial sun.

8. Salvia

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the spikes of lavender, deep purple or white flowers on this hardy perennial. It’s also most attractive planted in drifts. Needs full sun.

9. Torenia

Torenia, also known as wishbone flower, attracts hummingbirds with its pink, purple or yellow tube-shaped blooms. This annual doesn’t have to be deadheaded (i.e., have its spent blooms removed) in order to keep flowering all season. It does need partial to full shade, though.

10. Stonecrop

Stonecrop attracts plenty of bees and butterflies when it blooms in late summer to late fall. This perennial is sturdy and upright, so it provides nice vertical height to the back of a bed or border. The pretty seed heads remain on the plant, so it still looks pretty in the winter. This plant needs full sun.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...