My Favourite Plants for Pollinators

RHS Plants for PollinatorsLook out for the RHS Perfect for Pollinators logo on plants in garden centres and online! 

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:

Verbena BonariensisVerbena bonariensis
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.

Digitalis (Foxglove)

Digitalis (Foxglove)
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…!

HollyhockAlcea 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!

EchinaceaEchinacea purpurea
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!


About garden nomey

I studied Horticulture at Writtle College in Essex back in the early noughties – it was good fun and a great place to learn, and since then I’ve had various lovely jobs. I started working as a gardener at Trinity College in Cambridge, which is the biggest of Cambridge University’s colleges. That was the best gardening job I’ve ever had, the gardeners were talented and knowledgable (and fun!), the college was relaxed and the grounds are extensive and beautiful. There are amazing gardens locked behind ‘secret garden’ doorways in ancient walls, huge perennial borders to tend to, massive hedges to trim (one is 30ft high) and lawns to mow with precision. It was the perfect place for me, as a new gardener, to gain all the experience I might need to see me off into a career in horticulture. I went on to do various other gardening jobs for a few more years, before deciding that I would like to write about plants. Just as I was wondering how on earth I might get into this (as I was only trained in horticulture), I stumbled upon a Marketing Assistant job with an online and catalogue plant supplier, and they kindly took me in. This was my dream job at the time and I felt so lucky, I spent every day writing plant copy and gaining experience and knowledge in marketing and website management – something I’d never even thought about doing in the past. As it turned out, I loved it! Since then I’ve worked for more online plant suppliers, plus magazines including Which? Gardening Magazine and BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. I currently work as a garden writer for Hubert Burda Media UK and fill some of my spare time with freelance copy writing and blogging work. Every single one of my jobs has taught me so much and I think I’ve found my niche – I’m a Gardener, Copy Writer, Garden Marketer, Feature Writer and Online Content Manager! I’ve been involved in this industry for a good while now. I’ve been to a lot of press shows, I work and have worked with a lot of suppliers and I constantly see people I know in magazines and at gardening events. I really feel like I’m part of this lovely, friendly industry and that makes me very happy. I hope you enjoy my blog! Naomi
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2 Responses to My Favourite Plants for Pollinators

  1. Sarah Jones says:

    I’m dreaming of summer days whilst conjuring up visions of bumble bees rolling around in hollyhock flowers!

  2. Pingback: Five easy sun-loving perennials for June | gardennomey

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