It’s important to have some bee-friendly plants in your garden. Without bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, plants wouldn’t get pollinated (where pollen is carried from one plant to another) and then won’t then go on to produce seeds, berries and fruit. This might be particularly important to you if you grow fruit and veg. Also, if you have flowering plants in your garden, such as Poppies, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks and Aquilegia which form seed heads and reproduce once pollinated.
With pollinator-friendly plants in your garden, not only will your garden be healthier and more productive, but when you see bees and butterflies merrily buzzing and fluttering around in your garden, you’ll have that rewarding feeling of knowing that you’re doing your bit to maintain their population – they look lovely too!
As it happens, most of my favourite plants are bee-friendly. I’ve never been much of a fan of bedding plants apart from for use in hanging baskets and pots in the summer. That’s not saying that bedding plants can’t be bee-friendly, because many of them are, but perennials and native annuals tend to be favoured.
These are some of my favourites:
Not everyone likes the floaty-meadow-wild look, but I do and these are the best for achieving it. They’re absolutely gorgeous in borders. They form small, round clusters of tiny purple flowers, perched on the top of very tall stems. They grow to about 4 – 5ft tall, and they have barely any foliage, making them very airy-see-through type plants.
I love Foxgloves because they flower early (around May), they’re tall and have beautiful bell-shaped flowers on a long flower spike, they set seed and grow back every year. Sometimes they set seed and can pop up in places where you don’t want them, but they’re easy to pull from the ground. In such situations, I usually dig them up and plant them somewhere else. The best thing is, the plants grown from naturally set seed are often a surprise as to what colour they’re going to be; it could be pink, white, cream, yellow, peach, purple…!
Alcea rosea (Hollyhock)
Another tall one! Hollyhocks grow to 6 – 8ft tall. Like a skyscraper, they’re huge but take up very little space at the same time, with a relatively small spread. They produce big round flowers all the way up the long, tall stem and you’ll often find a Bumble-Bee rolling around in the masses of pollen in the centre!
Such perfect border plants! They grow to about 3 – 4ft tall in clumps, and after a few years you’ll get lots of stems growing from the base. Each stem has a single, large flower at the top with attractive downward-pointing petals. Like other perennials, they grow back every year and don’t require much care, just cut them back (right down to the base) in the autumn after they’ve finished flowering.
There are so many Bee-Friendly plants available to choose from. The best thing is, bees tend to prefer perennials and hardy annual flowers which grow very easily in the UK climate. This means they’re not very fussy about where they are planted and they can cope with the sometimes rubbish weather that we’re prone to during the summer. Besides rain, they cope well with drought too, meaning you can go on holiday and they’ll still be alive when you get back, unlike many bedding plants. They usually come back and flower every year too, so you can’t beat them where value for money is concerned.
Take a look at the RHS Perfect for Pollinators plant list for a full list of plants that bees, butterflies and beneficial insects will love, as well as looking great in your garden. After all, it’s nearly time to start planting for flowers this year!