Grow Native Plants For A Successful Pollinator Paradise

June is National Pollinator Month and with our pollinator populations declining partly due to loss of habitat we need to learn ways to make our gardens a pollinator paradise.

There are many ways you can create a pollinator paradise in your garden. One way is to provide food and shelter for them. Planting flowers and herbs that attract different types of pollinators is also an excellent idea. Providing water sources, such as bird baths and water fountains, is also important because they need water to keep their wings moist. And lastly, you can provide nesting sites by planting vines or shrubs near trees or buildings where they can build their homes.

Other helpful steps for creating a pollinator paradise in your garden are:

  • Plant flowers that bloom year-round
  • Use insecticides sparingly
  • Avoid using pesticides that kill bees or other pollinating insects
  • Plant flowers with nectar that blooms at different times of the day

Here are six native plants to consider growing in your garden:

Agastache - Agastache is native to most of North America, it also has origins in Asia and South America.  Agastache, also known as hummingbird mint, comes in a wide range of vivid colors from light pink to deep purple, blue, red, orange, and white. It grows up to 3 feet in height and is covered with flowers in the summer. It is a perennial in garden zones 5 to 9 but generally only comes back for several seasons. However, it is a prolific self-seeder and if it finds a place that it likes will come back for many years. The flowers both have a licorice scent and can be steeped into a pleasant-tasting tea. It is also a magnet for honeybees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Bee Balm - Bee Balm is native to eastern North America and is a member of the Mint family.  It is also known as Wild Bergamot.  There are annual and perennial varieties of this plant.  The unique blooms of Bee Balm are found in pink, purple, red, and white. The foliage on the plant is fragrant.  The flower blooms in mid to late summer. This plant is a great addition to any pollinator garden.  The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  The seed heads will attract birds in the fall and winter.  Plant bee balm in the spring or fall in rich well-drained soil.

Blazing Stars – Blazing Stars is also known as Gayfeather or Liatris and is a perennial and a native wildflower from the Midwest. It is a unique plant in that the flowers open from the top-down rather than from the bottom up. Its flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. It prefers full sun conditions with soil that drains well. Liatris can survive in garden zones 3 through 9 but may need a winter mulch in zones 3 through 6. The flower typically has lavender to pink tone and adds some much-needed color to the garden in the middle of the summer through the fall. It also comes in white.

Coneflower – Coneflower is also known as Echinacea. It is native to North America and while it is often grown as a perennial flower it is also sold as an herbal supplement. There has been an increase in the color palette from the signature purple color to include red, orange, and yellow. Coneflowers grow in garden zones 3 to 9 and do best in full sun. They are fairly adaptable when it comes to soil types, but do best in well-drained soil. An added bonus is that the flower self-seeds which means you can add more of them to your garden without incurring additional costs. Coneflowers attract butterflies and bees. Look for original native species and specific cultivars like “Magnus” as other coneflowers can lack pollen.

Coral Honeysuckle - Coral honeysuckle is native to the southeast United States and its botanical name is Lonicera sempervirens. It is a high-climbing twining vine and is known for having bright-colored tubular flowers. It grows 2 – 20 feet long. Flower clusters appear on new growth in the spring and summer. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies for months before maturing into berries. These fruits draw songbirds in late summer and fall. Coral honeysuckle is a perfect alternative to its invasive cousin Japanese honeysuckle. It is hardy for zones 4-10.

Coreopsis – Coreopsis is a sun-loving perennial also known as Tickseed. The daisy-like plant is familiar to many because of its bright yellow long-lasting flowers. It also is available in orange, pink, red, and eye-catching bicolors.  It is a North American native prairie plant that is tough and can withstand deer. There are over 80 species of this plant and half of them are native to North America. Birds and other wildlife love to eat them in the fall and winter, while their flowers are a magnet for pollinators. Hardiness zones 3-9.

Melinda Myers, a garden expert, and lecturer, in partnership with American Transmission Company, have developed the Grow Smart Pollinator guide with suggestions on a variety of native, pollinator-friendly plants. You can download it here

The National Wildlife Federation has a native plant finder. You can input your zip code and it will assist you in finding plants for where you live. Learn more here.

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