Supporting Pollinators: Bee-Friendly Plants - Minnesota
- Written by Rhonda Hayes
Sunflower - Helianthus
A striking, cheerful flower, easily grown from seed. A great plant for fascinating and growing "little gardeners". Sunflowers attract numerous species of native bees. Be sure to avoid pollenless varieties, when planting for pollinators.
Catmint - Nepeta
An adaptable perennial that grows well in cold climates; gorgeous drifts of china blue give the look of lavender, but unfortunately not the fragrance. However it will attract not only bees, but hummingbirds and butterflies. Rabbits don't care for the gray foliage and pungent scent.
Snapdragon - Antirrhinum
Beloved garden flower that comes in many shades and sizes. This cool-season annual is available to bees when many plants aren't blooming yet. It's fun to watch the bees burrow into the blooms to feed. The deeper flower structure appeals to long-tongued bumblebees. Perennial in warmer climates, a reliable self-seeder.
Joe Pye Weed - Eupatorium purpureum
A great native plant that adds height and structure to the perennial border while attracting many species of bees. Eupatorium now comes in a shorter variety for smaller gardens. The mauvey-pink domed flower clusters atop reddish-purple stems also attract butterflies.
Anise hyssop - Agastache foeniculum
Cottage-style plant with a loose habit, pretty deep blue blooms and a pleasant licorice-like scent. Bees will cover this plant from morning to early evening. A rampant self-seeder but worth it. Brew a tasty herbal infusion with the leaves as well.
Ornamental crabapple - Malus
Bees need trees too. With so many beautiful crabapples it's hard to chose. Look for types with scab-resistance. After the bees are done with the blooms, the colorful fruit will attract many birds; a double delight for added value in the habitat garden.