Azusa, California – If you’re trying to attract more butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees to your garden, you’re not alone. The topic comes up often on Monrovia’s social media channels and in blog discussions. More and more gardeners are realizing the importance of beneficial insects and wildlife to their ecosystems and are growing plants to support them. That’s why we created this Pollinator-Friendly Gardening discussion with Monrovia experts, Georgia Clay, New Plants Manager and Katie Tamony, Chief Marketing Officer. The conversation is a visual walk through the whys and hows of pollinator gardening, with fun facts and plant suggestions. You can access the discussion here.
Monrovia grows thousands of plants that support pollinators, and all our nurseries use pollinator-friendly growing methods. Here are a few basics of pollinator gardening and a list of our favorite plants to attract birds, bees, and butterflies.
What are pollinator plants?
Pollinator plants (a.k.a. pollinator-friendly plants) are flowering perennials, annuals, or shrubs that provide the nectar and pollen essential for a flourishing pollinator population. Pollinators include hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. Pollinator plants maintain a healthy pollinator population, which allows for crops and flowers to continue producing seeds and fruits via insect pollination (as well as a healthy garden and vibrant ecosystem).
What is a pollinator garden?
A pollinator garden is an outdoor space that is filled with plants that provide a source of nectar and pollen to the local pollinator population. Pollinator gardens can be large landscapes or small patio container gardens. If a space is filled mostly with pollinator-friendly plants, it can be considered a pollinator garden. Pollinator gardens are made even better by providing a water source, nesting sites, and following other insect-friendly approaches.
The Best Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Gardens
There are so many options when it comes to plants that attract pollinators. It can be overwhelming to make a choice. We asked one of our very own plant experts, New Plants Manager Georgia Clay, to name her favorites. Georgia is devoted to finding the best pollinator-friendly plants around and making them available to gardeners across the country.
Georgia says: I particularly like the groundcover types of Sedum because they are easy to tuck into the garden and can fill the spaces between other plants with beautiful foliage and pollinator-friendly flowers. Bees have a hard time pollinating in windy weather so the lower the flowers are to the ground, the better!
Pictured: Evolution™ Chocolate Fountain Sedum is a sturdy, compact, and dense sedum that offers deep-rose blooms for bees and chocolate-colored succulent foliage for the keen-eyed gardener. Up to 15″ tall and wide. Zones 4-9.
Georgia says: Milkweed might be best known as being the only source of food for monarch butterfly larvae, but it is also a great source of nectar for many other species of butterflies and bees. It’s important to grow a variety native to your area in order to support monarch butterflies in your region. Search milkweed varieties here to find a variety suited to your area.
Pictured: Monarch Magnet Pineleaf Milkweed is a Southwestern native that has a dense growth habit with narrow, conifer-like leaves. The white flowers are showier than the species type. Perfect for pollinator, butterfly, and wildlife gardens in warm climates. Up to 3′ tall and wide. Zones 9-11.
Georgia says: There are many Echinacea varieties available on the market to suit any garden. Most all have an exceptionally long bloom period and provide bees with both nectar and pollen. Evolution™ Colorific™ Coneflower is a prolific bloomer and dependable performer in nearly any garden Zones 4-9.
Pictured: Magnus Purple Coneflower is an easy-care variety that closely resembles the native species (making it perfect for pollinators and wildlife). The magenta-rose blooms feature petals that reach horizontally rather than pendulously, making them look big and bold in the garden. A butterfly favorite! Up to 3′ tall and wide.
Georgia says: Sunflowers are the happiest flower in the garden, in my opinion. They are a great source of nectar for native bees and honeybees. Varieties that put on masses of flowers and bloom late into the year, like SunBelievable™, provide an outstanding source of reliable late-season nectar.
Pictured: SunBelievable™ Brown Eyed Girl Helianthus is a seedless annual that blooms prolifically from spring until first frost. The yellow petals are dashed with red around the brown center. Bees love these sunny flowers and their non-stop nectar source. Up to 32″ tall and 40″ wide. Grows as an annual in all zones.
Georgia says: I love incorporating lavender into my perennial and herb beds. The fragrance is fantastic and it is super fun to watch the bumblebees in their ‘pollen pants’ enjoying the beautiful flowers.
Pictured: Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender is an aromatic, compact variety with low water needs and prolific blooms that attract pollinators. A favorite for containers, rock gardens, and narrow spaces. Up to 18″ tall and 12″ wide.
Georgia says: Agastache is gorgeous planted in mass and will attract loads of bees and hummingbirds to the garden. They have a long bloom time and aromatic foliage, so deer tend not to munch.
Pictured: Kudos Gold Dwarf Agastache is a waterwise perennial and prolific bloomer that’s perfect for gardens in warm, dry climates. The upright flowers bloom in shades of gold from summer through fall. Up to 26″ tall and wide. Zones 5-10.
Georgia says: I really love Goldenrod‘s fluffy bright-gold flowers and carefree look in perennial gardens. Goldenrod is an important food source for migrating monarch butterflies in the fall as well as many species of bees, beneficial wasps, and beneficial flies.
Pictured: Crown of Rays Goldenrod is an easy-care pollinator magnet that provides much-needed color and nectar at the end of the season. Yellow-gold, flattened panicle flowers cover the plant at the end of summer and persist through fall. Up to 3′ tall by 2′ wide. Zones 4-8.
Georgia says: Phygelius, or Cape Fuchsia, is a hardy perennial Fuchsia with gorgeous tubular flowers that hummingbirds love. Many varieties tend to flop in the garden, but Colorburst™ does a good job of staying upright which allows hummingbirds to enjoy it even longer!
Pictured: Colorburst™ Orange Cape Fuchsia has a bushy, upright growth habit that explodes in fireworks of orange, tubular flower clusters from midsummer to fall. Spreads through underground stems. Up to 3′ tall by 2′ wide. Zones 6-10.
Georgia says: Caryopertis bloom in the late summer and into the fall. They are a great source of nectar in the fall when pollinators need it most and options are more limited.
Pictured: La Barbe Bleue™ Bluebeard is a low-water, easy-care, and pollinator-friendly shrub that is a perfect addition to pollinator, prairie, and wildlife gardens in cool-to-mild climates. The deep-blue flowers are striking against the chartreuse foliage, and together they light up the garden with their dramatic contrast. Up to 36″ tall by 30″ wide. Zones 5-9.
Inspired by the beauty of plants, gardens, and landscapes everywhere, Harry E. Rosedale, Sr. founded Monrovia in 1926 to be a premier grower of shrubs and trees. Monrovia collaborates with plant breeders around the world to introduce improved plant varieties to North America. Monrovia plants flourish once planted to beautify gardens and landscapes. Please visit www.monrovia.com to learn more.