Everyone Needs To Start Growing Bee-attracting Plants Before It's Too Late
As you’ve likely heard, bees’ numbers are in decline, and they need our support. Fortunately, sowing a few tiny seeds can make a big difference. Growing bee-attracting plants in your garden not only provides them with quality food, but also aids in production of vegetables like squash and cucumbers, which rely on bees for pollination. Here are some plants to try.
Allium Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
This showy, ornamental onion brightens the garden with clusters of nodding flowers above flattened, mid-green leaves. Both the leaves and edible flowers have the typical onion scent. Plants are highly adaptable in the garden, thriving in sun or shade, moist soils or dry. Use these perennials to attract bees and butterflies in borders, wildflower gardens or meadow plantings.
Bee Balm Lambada (Monarda hybrid)
Bee balm, also known as Monarda, is covered with lavender-pink flower clusters that attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees to the garden. This tender perennial is more tolerant to powdery mildew and dry soil conditions than other varieties of bee balm. Pretty in a mixed bouquet of cut flowers and in wildflower gardens, it can be grown as an annual for a splash of summer and fall color.
Borage (Borage officinalis)
In addition to attracting bees and other beneficial insects, this easy-to-grow, annual herb has many culinary uses. Edible flowers can be used fresh to garnish dips, salads and summer drinks or candied with sugar for later use. The stems and leaves have a cucumber-like flavor that’s delicious steamed like spinach or chard.
Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
This colorful, drought-tolerant perennial attracts bees and butterflies. The hardy Southwest native thrives and blooms continually throughout the summer with little care and has the aroma of chocolate especially in the morning. Also called chocolate daisy, it grows best in well-drained, average to poor, dry soil. Plant in groups along a walkway or patio to surprise and tantalize visitors.
Hyssop Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Also known as anise hyssop and licorice mint, this Midwestern perennial is loved by bees and butterflies. It is as useful in the kitchen as it is beautiful. The leaves and flowers make a refreshing licorice-fruity tea and can be tossed in salads. Its lavender-blue flower spikes are lovely in fresh floral arrangements and dried bouquets.
Larkspur Shades of Blue (Consolida ambigua)
An excellent choice for the back of a flower bed, against a wall or fence, or in a wildflower or naturalized garden, this self-sowing annual can be grown in masses for a striking display of light and dark blue blossoms.
Thyme English Heirloom (Thymus vulgaris)
An invaluable seasoning in the kitchen, thyme has a subtle, woodsy flavor that complements a variety of foods. A staple herb of chefs, this perennial is one of the primary ingredients in bouquet garni. With very small leaves and delicate, edible flowers, it also makes a lovely 12-inch-tall landscape plant. Use it as a low hedge around your herb or vegetable garden. It’s also an excellent container plant to enjoy indoors or out.
Yellow Coneflower Echinacea (Echinacea paradoxa)
Rare in nature, this coneflower with yellow petals is a magnet for goldfinches and bees. Long-lived, these perennials grow in a wide range of sites and fit perfectly in perennial borders, as well as in wildflower and native gardens. Their long, deep taproot helps them tolerate dry conditions once established. Butterflies feed on the nectar during flowering, while finches and other birds love the seed heads.