Drought-Tolerant Pollinator Plants

Try these low-maintenance perennials to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden.

| July/August 2016

  • aster
    Colorful asters begin blooming in late summer.
    Photo by iStock
  • bee balm
    Bee balm can grow in the shade, and attracts hummingbirds as well as bees.
    Photo by iStock
  • bee on a flower
    Low-maintenance perennials can be a great help to dwindling bee populations.
    Photo by iStock
  • blanket flower
    Blanket flowers work well in containers, with full sunlight.
    Photo by iStock
  • butterfly weed
    Butterfly Weed is a tough and hardy wildflower, attractive to monarchs.
    Photo by iStock
  • catmint
    Catmint's long blooming season means bees can enjoy it for months.
    Photo by iStock
  • coneflower
    Coneflowers attract many types of pollinators.
    Photo by iStock
  • goldenrod
    Goldenrod is packed with heavy pollen that bees love.
    Photo by iStock
  • joe pye weed
    Joe Pye weed grows best in warm, swampy areas.
    Photo by Shutterstock
  • lantana
    Southern gardeners swear by resilient, colorful lantana flowers.
    Photo by iStock
  • penstemon
    Butterflies, hummingbirds and bees alike love penstemon.
    Photo by iStock
  • rudbeckia
    Best known as black-eyed susan, rudbeckia is easy to grow.
    Photo by iStock/Frey Photography
  • sedum
    Sedum is naturally drought-tolerant and reliable.
    Photo by iStock
  • yarrow
    Despite its reputation as a weed, yarrow makes a great backyard plant for pollinators.
    Photo by iStock

  • aster
  • bee balm
  • bee on a flower
  • blanket flower
  • butterfly weed
  • catmint
  • coneflower
  • goldenrod
  • joe pye weed
  • lantana
  • penstemon
  • rudbeckia
  • sedum
  • yarrow

Bee populations have been on the decline all around the world for the past few decades, and that’s a problem. Scientists estimate that nearly one-third of all food grown on Earth is dependent on bees. Without these important pollinators, the future of our food supply could be in trouble. Many factors contribute to bee declines, but nearly all scientists agree that loss of habitat and lack of nutrition are major factors. Fortunately, that means there is something simple every one of us can do to help: Include bee-friendly plants in our gardens. Not only will these plants feed bees, they’ll help support birds, butterflies and beneficial insects, too. Plus, these hardy, drought-tolerant perennials are nearly guaranteed to grow well with very little care, and they’ll come back year after year. To protect the health of the pollinators you’re aiming to attract, always use plants grown without pesticides.

Aster

(Aster spp., Zones 3 to 8)

If you like daisies, then you’ll love asters. They start blooming in late summer and continue through fall. They offer a great pop of color and a late source of nectar just when other flowers are starting to fade. Plant in a sunny spot.

Bee Balm

(Monarda didyma, Zones 4 to 9)



If you like uniquely shaped flowers, this is the one for you, with its bright color and spiky shape. Also known to attract hummingbirds, you can’t go wrong with a plant that already has bee in the name. Bee balm can handle some shade.

Blanket flower

(Gaillardia spp., Zones 3 to 9)

billshut
4/12/2018 1:59:29 PM

Last year, I had a lemon basil plant, that grew to gargantuan proportions. Not sure where the hive was located, but the local honey bees absolutely LOVED that plant! Every day I was out in the garden, they were there, too, and while they enjoyed many other blossoms, that lemon basil was one they just kept coming back to!







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