45 Pollinator Friendly Perennials Sure To Attract Bees

Pollinator friendly perennials are the foundation of a well-rounded pollinator garden. They help increase pollination rates of native bees and honeybees, and their foliage and flowers provide food and shelter for beneficial insects that help keep harmful plant pests under control.

Public interest in plants for pollinators is driving up demand for them. Whether you’re a greenhouse grower-retailer or a wholesale operation, perennials that attract bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators are a good bet for increasing plant sales.

In “Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?,” Dave Smitley, Professor in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University, recommends 45 perennials that are sure to attract bees. The list includes:

  • Anise hyssop/Agastache foeniculum
  • Astilbe, false spirea/Astilbe spp.
  • Basil, sweet basil (annual)/Ocimum basilicum
  • Bee balm/Monarda spp.
  • Bellflower/Campanula spp.
  • Betony/Stachys monieri
  • Black-eyed Susan, coneflower/Rudbeckia spp.
  • Blanket flower/Gaillardia
  • Blazing star/Liatris spicata
  • Butterfly bush/Buddleja or Buddleia spp.
  • Butterfly weed/Asclepias tuberosa
  • Catmint/Nepeta spp.
  • Chrysanthemum (open types)/Chrysanthemum
  • Clematis/Clematis spp.
  • Common poppy, red poppy/Papaver rhoeas
  • Common yarrow/Achillea millefolium
  • Coral bells/Heuchera spp.
  • Cornflower/Centaurea spp.
  • Fennel/Foeniculum vulgare
  • Foxglove or beardtongues/Penstemon spp.
  • Garden speedwell/Veronica longifolia
  • Globe thistle/Echinops ritro
  • Hosta/Hosta spp.
  • Hyssop (naturalized in North America)/Hyssopus officinalis
  • Large-leaved aster/Eurybia macrophylla
  • Lavender/Lavandula
  • Lemon balm/Melissa officinalis
  • Lupine/Lupinus spp.
  • Mints/Mentha spp.
  • New England aster/Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
  • Oregano/Origanum vulgare
  • Pentas/Pentas spp.
  • Peony/Paeonia spp.
  • Pincushion flower/Scabiosa caucasica
  • Purple coneflower/Echinacea purpurea
  • Rosemary/Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Russian sage/Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Salvia/Salvia ‘Victoria Blue,’ S. nemorosa ‘Black and Blue’
  • Sea holly/Eryngium maritimum
  • Sedum/Sedum spp.
  • Stokes aster/Stokesia laevis
  • Sunflower/Helianthus
  • Swamp milkweed/Asclepias incarnata
  • Sweet alyssum/Lobularia maritima
  • Thyme/Thymus spp.

You can find more lists of pollinator plants in the Extension publication: “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes for the U.S. North Central Region.”

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