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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Plants to attract butterflies and bees

Butterflies are the perfect blend of form and function. Helpful pollinators, their presence in the garden also adds a beautiful touch of wonder.

A bee pollinates raspberries.

Bees, of course, are pollinating work horses -- our fruit patches and vegetable gardens could not flourish without them. Over the years I have observed that my vegetable plants do best when my yard is filled with flowers that attract the bees. The plants pictured here are all from my yard, which means they exist practically on their own, with very little help from the gardener (because I chose them for that!). They are all drought-resistant perennials.

For butterflies:

Soapwort. This plant releases a profusion of tiny pink flowers in spring. Cut back spent flowers for a second bloom in late summer. The plant spreads or cascades, depending on where you plant it -- it can be a ground cover, or will spill over planter edges or stones in a rock garden. It reseeds freely.


Coneflower (echinacea). These flowers provide a platform where butterflies can land. Cut back in the fall.


Painted lady

Lavender. Like soapwort, lavender has multiple flowers, and hence multiple treasure chests, in a close space. Butterflies and bees like this. 

Other great plants for butterflies:

Butterfly bush (buddleia) or butterfly weed, aster, black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia), phlox, zinnia.

Consider host plants for eggs and caterpillars: fennel, dill, parsley and milkweed.

For bees:

Sage. This plant's gray, green leaves are a great culinary herb. The plant blooms in spring and can bloom again if spent blossoms are cut.

Other plants for bees: herbs in blossom, alyssum (smells like honey, yum!), sunflower, salvia, bee balm. Russian sage produces huge plants (4-feet tall) with spiky wands of blue flowers. It is a bee magnet, I tell you. I used to have some of those near my sidewalk but transplanted them after a neighbor told me her daughter was fearful to walk past my house. All in a day's work!

What plants do you like best for butterflies and bees?

1 comment:

Becky said...

Beautiful! I love perennials.