Popular Perennial Pollinator Plants

29 Perennials to Attract Pollinators

  • 1.

    What Makes a Good Pollinator Plant?

    To keep the bees buzzin', make sure you have plants they like. A few quick facts to know:

    • Color matters. Bees are most attracted to purple, blue, and yellow plants. Also, they can't see red!
    • Avoid fully double flowers, the extra petals work as a barrier between bees and the flower's nectar.
    • Plant sequentially so you have something in bloom from spring to fall. Bees need to eat all summer long!

    Here are a number of plants to consider if you're looking to keep the pollinators in your yard happy.

  • 2.

    Echinacea (Coneflower)

    Praised for their cheerful brightly colored flowers, coneflowers are a mainstay in today's garden. Be sure to leave some spent blooms on the plants in the fall because their seeds provide winter food for finches and other birds. The dried seed heads also provide architectural interest in the winter.

    Variety Pictured: Echinacea COLOR CODED™ 'Yellow My Darling'

    Height: 18-24" | Zones: 4-8 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 3.

    Monarda (Bee Balm)

    Monarda is native to eastern North America, so it is easy to grow and it multiplies quickly. The flowers' sweet nectar attracts scores of hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to the garden. The aromatic foliage smells like mint when crushed and is often used to flavor teas.

    Variety Pictured: Monarda didyma 'Pardon My Purple'

    Height: 14-18" | Zones: 4-8 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 4.

    Penstemon (Beardtongue)

    Penstemons are very drought tolerant perennials that are easy to grow and are rarely bothered by insects or diseases. Plant them in full sun and watch as hummingbirds feast on their delicious nectar.

    Variety Pictured: Penstemon 'Midnight Masquerade'

    Height: 36-40" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 5.

    Baptisia (False Indigo)

    Baptisia is easy to grow and will thrive with little maintenance. There are many potential applications in the landscape including meadow plantings, as a backdrop in borders, or as a specimen. Plants are very long-lived once established.

    Variety Pictured: Baptisia DECADENCE® 'Lemon Meringue'

    Height: 3' | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 6.

    Salvia (Perennial Salvia, Garden Sage)

    Salvia is a staple item for every sunny garden. It asks little more than sunshine and a little drink every once in a while in return for producing a bountiful mass of colorful flower spires from late spring into early summer. It forms a uniform, rounded clump of aromatic, rugose green foliage that looks nice all season long and is not enjoyed by rabbits or deer.

    Variety Pictured: Salvia nemorosa 'Pink Profusion'

    Height: 14-16" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 7.

    Agastache (Anise Hyssop)

    Agastache are well-adapted to thrive in dry soils and is right at home in rock gardens and xeric container plantings where it will attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and honeybees. This is one of the easiest perennials to grow.

    Variety Pictured: Agastache 'Rosie Posie'

    Height: 18-22" | Zones: 6-9 | Full Sun

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  • 8.

    Allium (Ornamental Onion)

    Alliums are charming plants for the rock or herb garden. When the foliage is bruised, it smells like onions since they are in the onion family. Butterflies and honeybees adore the flowers' sweet nectar but deer and rabbits steer clear of this perennial beauty.

    Variety Pictured: Allium 'Serendipity'

    Height: 15-20" | Zones: 4-8 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 9.

    Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)

    Rudbeckias like full sun, but they also will do well in partial shade. Plant them in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Remove spent flowers in order to stimulate continuous bloom.

    Variety Pictured: Rudbeckia 'American Gold Rush'

    Height: 22-26" | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 10.

    Nepeta (Catmint)

    When Nepeta's stems are broken, they release an aroma into the air that tends to attract cats, thus its common name, Catmint.

    Variety Pictured: Nepeta 'Cat's Pajamas'

    Height: 12-14" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 11.

    Achillea (Yarrow)

    Yarrow is one of the easiest perennials to grow and is a good choice for beginners. All it needs is full sun and well-drained soil. These plants are an excellent balance of finely textured foliage and bright flower colors. The wide, flat flower clusters are popular landing pads with pollinators.

    Variety Pictured: Achillea 'Firefly Peach Sky'

    Height: 32-36" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 12.

    Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

    Butterfly Bushes have certainly earned their place in the garden over the years, and its easy to see why. Just when we need a breath of fresh air in the late summer heat, they happily burst into bloom. At a time when many other plants are already spent, buddleias are just beginning their show. Their passive coloring and texture makes a wonderful backdrop for perennials, and you'll love the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds that flock to their honey-scented blossoms.

    Variety Pictured: Buddleia 'Grand Cascade'

    Height: 5½-6' | Zones: 5-10 | Full Sun

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  • 13.

    Heliopsis (False Sunflower)

    Heliopsis have traditionally been an excellent tall perennial for the middle or back of the flower border. It has a bushy, well-branched form and glossy, deep green, triangular leaves – a real workhorse in the garden! Use this plant in combination containers, as a cut flower, or to attract butterflies to your garden.

    Variety Pictured: Heliopsis helianthoides Tuscan Gold™

    Height: 24-32" | Zones: 3-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 14.

    Phlox (Tall Garden Phlox)

    These perennials are a favorite of gardeners around the world and a staple of North American native gardens. Be sure to locate these plants in full sun for the best flowering performance and to help avoid powdery mildew concerns. A favorite of pollinators.

    Variety Pictured: Phlox paniculata LUMINARY™ 'Opalescence'

    Height: 30-32" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 15.

    Veronica (Spike Speedwell)

    Veronica is highly valued for its ease of growth and long bloom time. The spiky flowers are an excellent contrast to the more common rounded flower shapes like Shasta Daisies, Coneflower, and Black Eyed Susans. Expect bees to be buzzing about this plant when in bloom.

    Variety Pictured: Veronica MAGIC SHOW® 'Wizard of Ahhs'

    Height: 14-16" | Zones: 4-8 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 16.

    Calamintha (Calamint, Lesser Catmint)

    This sun-loving perennial is the perfect choice for attracting pollinators, since it blooms from early summer until frost. Tiny, white flowers cover the bushy habit. Since this is in the mint family, the leaves carry a mint scent. Perfect for rock garden enthusiasts and herb gardens. Use in the landscape as you would Nepeta (Catmint).

    Variety Pictured: Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta

    Height: 12-16" | Zones: 5-9 | Full Sun

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  • 17.

    Hibiscus (Rose Mallow)

    These North American native plants bring massive, tropical-looking flowers all the way to zone 4. Although later to emerge than most perennials in spring, these are fast growing plants capable of adding an inch of new growth a day. Excellent at brightening up end of season gardens.

    Variety Pictured: Hibiscus SUMMERIFIC® 'Evening Rose'

    Height: 4' | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 18.

    Dianthus (Pinks)

    In the carnation family, Dianthus cultivars deliver gorgeous single, semi-double, and fully double flowers. Singles tend to deliver more flowers while doubles are significantly larger, sometimes more than twice the size. Singles also tend to grow quicker and can appear like a carpet in the landscape at maturity.

    Variety Pictured: Dianthus 'Paint the Town Magenta'

    Height: 6-8" | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 19.

    Linum (Blue Flax)

    A native perennial that provides height and rare color to the garden! A tall, airy plant that creates movement and texture in the garden. Round, denim blue flowers top the vase-shaped habit of green, needle-like leaves. You can easily under plant Blue Flax with other perennials thanks to its habit shape. This perennial starts blooming in spring and continues blooming throughout the summer.

    Variety Pictured: Linum lewisii

    Height: 24-26" | Zones: 3-8 | Full Sun

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  • 20.

    Clematis (Bush Clematis)

    This non-vining Clematis is completely herbaceous, meaning that it dies back to the ground at the end of the growing season. Flowers appear from late May to June, with some rebloom into the later summer months. After it is finished blooming, attractive cream thread-like seed heads appear.

    Variety Pictured: Clematis 'Rain Dance'

    Height: 42" | Zones: 3-7 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 21.

    Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

    Commonly called Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily for their tall flower spikes. These South Africa natives offer tremendous garden value by combining grass-like foliage with tall flower scapes. An excellent perennial for the middle of the border.

    Variety Pictured: Kniphofia PYROMANIA™ 'Backdraft'

    Height: 2½-3' | Zones: 5b-9 | Full Sun

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  • 22.

    Aster (New England Aster)

    Asters perform best in rich, evenly moist soil and full sun. Give them lots of room to grow; good air circulation will help to prevent powdery mildew. Though this cultivar has a bushy, compact habit, it may still require staking. To promote dense growth that is less likely to flop, pinch plants back from late spring until July 4th.

    Variety Pictured: Aster 'Grape Crush'

    Height: 26-30" | Zones: 26-30" | Full Sun

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  • 23.

    Lagerstroemia (Crapemyrtle)

    Crapemyrtle have long been a popular flowering shrub in the south, and it's time that these beautiful flowering shrubs made a splash in the Northern market! Hardy new selections behave more like a perennial in northern zones and are an excellent late season pollinator plant.

    Variety Pictured: Lagerstroemia BARISTA® 'Brew Ha Ha'

    Height: 2-2½' | Zones: 6-9 | Full Sun

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  • 24.

    Sedum (Stonecrop)

    This plant falls into a category of hardy, dome shaped Sedum hybrids. These plants typically bloom in early fall on round mushroom cap-type habits. Especially vivid when planted en masse. Through the year they showcase succulent foliage and are well adapted to low water and rock gardens. If left standing, they provide winter interest and food for birds.

    Variety Pictured: Sedum ROCK 'N ROUND™ 'Popstar'

    Height: 10-12" | Zones: 3-9 | Full Sun

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  • 25.

    Lavandula (Lavender)

    Gardeners around the world have been growing lavender for centuries for its intensely fragrant flowers, beautiful appearance, and ease of culture.

    Variety Pictured: Lavandula angustifolia Sweet Romance®

    Height: 12-18" | Zones: 5-9 | Full Sun

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  • 26.

    Aquilegia (Columbine)

    Aquilegia is especially lovely when allowed to naturalize in shady, woodland borders. They also have excellent potential as cut flowers, lasting up to 2 weeks in a vase.

    Variety Pictured: Aquilegia caerula KIRIGAMI™ Deep Blue & White

    Height: 22-24" | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 27.

    Delphinium (Hybrid Bee Delphinium)

    Delphinium are a classic garden perennial. These plants are excellent for adding height to small spaces. Their tall flower spikes are easily recognizable when they come into flower in summer. When in flower, the spikes of these plants become heavy and should be staked to avoid toppling over in rough weather, especially taller varieties. Newer hybrids are longer lived than some of the more traditional cultivars.

    Variety Pictured: Delphinium 'Blue Lace'

    Height: 5-6' | Zones: 3-7 | Full to Part Sun

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  • 28.

    Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)

    Shasta Daisies are all-time favorites for the perennial border. The cheery flowers begin to appear in early summer and continue on for several months if faithfully deadheaded. Shastas mix so effortlessly with other perennials that no garden should be without them!

    Variety Pictured: Leucanthemum superbum 'Cream Puff'

    Height: 14-16" | Zones: 5-9 | Full Sun

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  • 29.

    Asclepias (Butterfly Plant)

    A virtually hassle-free, very long lived perennial, offering three months of tangerine orange blooms (occasionally red or yellow) from early through late summer. Deadheading the flowers will stimulate another bloom cycle about a month after the first one. The flowers, which are heavily laden with nectar and pollen, are particularly attractive to hummingbirds, Monarch butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects.

    Variety Pictured: Asclepias tuberosa

    Height: 24" | Zones: 3-9 | Full Sun

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  • 30.

    Coreopsis (Tickseed)

    Coreopsis is easy to grow, making it a good choice for beginners. One plant will provide you with long-lasting cut flower bouquets all summer long.

    Variety Pictured: Coreopsis verticillata SIZZLE & SPICE® 'Curry Up'

    Height: 15-18" | Zones: 5-9 | Full Sun

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Varieties Mentioned in this Article