When you bring the bees and butterflies to your yard, you don’t just add a little whimsical interest and activity to your garden, you help sustain the delicate ecosystem they live in. These five plants make it easy to help out.
Not all of these plants will thrive where you live, so be sure to check out which zone you’re in and which zones the plants heartily grow in. Whether you’re planting now or planning for next year, here are some great options.
Dandelions, Clovers, and Other “Weeds”
Lawn care companies might have you convinced that dandelions and clover are awful and ugly, but they’re not. First and foremost, bees and butterflies both enjoy the plants in your yard that you call “weeds.” Clover flowers and dandelions are two weeds that often get mowed down or picked. Let them be so the bees and butterflies can enjoy them. Not only that, but clover is a powerful nitrogen-fixing plant—all season long it pulls nitrogen from the air and naturally fertilizes your lawn. The bees can have cute little blooms, and you can have a better lawn for it.
A great early season plant that attracts pollinators is the wild geranium. This purple-flowered plant can be grown in zones three through eight. Another bonus of this plant is that it doesn’t wither away at the end of spring—expect to see it green and lush through the warm months.
Purple coneflower, also known as Echinacea, is a mid-season perennial that grows well in zones four through eight. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators absolutely love the coneflower. You’ll be sure to see them and you’ll love that it blooms for about two months in mid to late summer. Better yet, when the blooms die off, the coneflowers will become intensely interesting to local birds, especially finches, who love to pluck the tiny seeds from the large flower heads.
If you’re not allergic, goldenrod is an excellent late-season plant to attract bees, butterflies, and even birds to your yard. Goldenrod flourishes in zones three through nine and like sandy and clay-filled soil.
If Monarch butterflies are on your must-see list, you can attract them with some common milkweed (or any other milkweed variation). This is the one food source of Monarch caterpillars, and if there are any in your area, planting it is practically guaranteed to attract them. Common milkweed grows in zones three through eight (and is often seen growing like a “weed” in flower beds and yards).
There are hundreds of plants that you can grow in your garden that will attract bees and butterflies, but these five suggestions will get you started on a pollinator garden that will attract useful insects from spring to autumn.