Turn your yard into a pollinator garden with these 8 native plants

There’s never been a better time to transition your lawn over to a pollinator garden–and we’ve got the perfect plants for the job. Keep reading for our roundup of the best pollinator-attracting plants to incorporate into your landscape.

Why grow a pollinator garden?

Bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, and even bats play a critical role in our ecosystem since pollination is essential to agriculture (and the continued existence of plants in general).

Unfortunately, pollinator populations have been declining for several years due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and other factors. By growing pollinator gardens and planting native species, we can help create a safe habitat for these important creatures and help them thrive.

But planting a pollinator garden isn’t just a good deed—there are plenty of benefits for us, too.

Some of the best plants for pollinator gardens are among the most beautiful. Who doesn’t love to sit back and watch butterflies flit from flower to flower, or listen to the constant hum of hummingbirds?

Pollinator gardens certainly add elegance to our environment and provide an opportunity for people to connect with and learn about nature.

Native plants are integral to pollinator gardens

The best piece of advice for planting a pollinator garden is simple: diversify as much as possible. Plant a combination of herbaceous perennials, showy flowering annuals, and fall bulbs so that something is blooming at all times of the year. Opt for fragrant flowers and vibrant blooms that are prolific and attention-grabbing.

Though non-native plants can be lovely additions to the landscape, native plants are always the top choice for attracting pollinators for a few reasons:

  • Native plants are hardier than non-native plants and require less maintenance.
  • Native species naturally adapt to their climate of origin and require less water and fertilizer.
  • Native flora provides food and habitat for birds and beneficial insects.

While it’s tempting to pick out the showiest flowering plants, don’t forget to incorporate native shrubs into your landscape, too. Shrubs are important plants that can provide habitat and food for birds and small animals, plus, they tend to bloom earlier in the spring than perennials, providing food for pollinators early in the year. If you can, interplant native shrubs and perennials for year-round interest and a continuous food source for pollinators.

8 native plants for a pollinator gardens

  1. Coneflower

  2. Echinacea, or coneflower, is a herbaceous perennial native to Eastern and Central North America. The bushy plants have branching purple blooms that typically grow about three feet tall. Coneflower gets its name from its spiky cone-shaped seed heads that birds adore, while pollinators prefer the nectar-rich flowers that bloom continuously from June to August.

    All parts of the echinacea plant have medicinal value. The most well-known variety, Magnus, is characterized by bright purple petals and distinctive central cones, although Cheyenne Spirit is a fun burnt orange variation.

  3. Coral bells

  4. Coral bells might call to mind a luscious foliage plant with dramatic color-changing leaves, but the dainty pink bell-shaped flowers are very attractive to pollinators. The plants are native to North America and are well-adapted to the shady understory typical of most Eastern and Northern forests. The evergreen plants are deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, requiring very little maintenance after the first year.

  5. Black-eyed Susan

  6. The cottage garden classic is an easy-to-grow native wildflower that will bring hordes of pollinators to your garden. Cheery golden daisy-like petals frame black centers atop green foliage. Black-eyed Susans are naturally branching plants, producing an abundance of blooms from midsummer until frost. Drought-tolerant once established, black-eyed susans are an excellent choice for poor soils and areas that receive full sunlight, though the plants can tolerate some shade.

  7. Verbena

  8. Purple Spreader Garden Verbena is one of our best-selling native pollinator-attracting perennials and for good reason. This ground cover is a vigorous grower, spreading easily even in the poorest soils. Native to Eastern and Central North America, verbena boasts lovely purple flower clusters that butterflies adore.

  9. Luna hibiscus

  10. Believe it or not, hibiscus is in the mallow plant family—making these exotic-looking flowers a relative of both okra and hollyhock. Native to the Southeast, these hardy hibiscus plants prefer moist well-draining soil and full sun, reaching three feet tall and wide under ideal growing conditions. Luna hibiscus are considered dinnerplate hibiscus due to their extra-large blooms. Pollinators love the nectar-rich, vibrantly colored flowers that bloom from midsummer until fall. Choose between White, Pink Swirl, Rose, and Red—or plant a mix of all four colors!

  11. Blueberry

  12. A favorite fruit across the globe, blueberries are actually native to North America. The blush-colored blooms are particularly attractive to native bees and honeybees, so the benefits of growing blueberries in your landscape are twofold—not only do you draw more pollinators to your garden, but you also get to reap the rewards of pollination in the form of deliciously sweet and antioxidant-rich berries.

  13. Hydrangea

  14. A diverse species with many varieties, Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea is one cultivar that is native to North America. The fragrant, cream-colored flower clusters are very enticing to butterflies and hummingbirds, among other pollinators. Birds eat the seeds and build their nests on the shrub’s branching woody stems. Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea can reach 10 to 12 feet in height, and the deeply lobed leaves change to a beautiful bronze in autumn. Plant in moist, well-draining soil for best blooms.

  15. Anise

  16. Native to Florida, Miss Scarlett Anise is characterized by glossy foliage and vibrant scarlet blooms. The fragrant, nectar-rich flowers are very attractive to bees and other insects. Anise thrives in partly sunny locations, so it’s ideal for shadier corners of the landscape. Moist but well-draining soil is a must for this woody shrub that tops out between four and six feet tall. The flowers are in bloom from mid-spring until fall, but the evergreen leaves provide year-round interest.

Continued care of pollinator gardens

Adding native plants is an important step in cultivating a pollinator garden, but the work doesn’t stop there. In fact, maintaining a pollinator garden involves a lot more effort to be passive than you might realize.

To draw more pollinators to the garden, you’ll want to mow your lawn less frequently, allowing some of the grass and clover to flower. It can be annoying to have tall grass, which is why you might be better off filling out your yard with landscaping and mulching walkways and paths.

Refrain from using chemicals in your garden. Avoid synthetic herbicides or pesticides, opting for biological or all-natural options when necessary. Only use organic fertilizers if your goal is to create a safe space for pollinators.

As difficult as it may be, don’t clean up plant debris at the end of the summer, instead leaving the plant debris for insects and birds to overwinter.

Pollinators are important to our ecosystem and can be easily attracted by planting native perennials and shrubs. Native plants provide food and habitat for birds and beneficial insects and help protect endangered species. By planting more native plants, we can help to improve water and air quality and make our environment a better place for all living things.

Shop our full collection of perennials and shrubs today and in no time you’ll have an abundance of bees and butterflies hard at work in your pollinator garden.