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Best perennials for bees

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Without pollination, your plants won’t be able to produce enough fruit or seeds which is not just upsetting to the overall quality of your garden but it can inhibit food production food sources for wildlife as well. Honey bees, in particular, are an essential part of the agricultural world and it’s only through pollination that we get seeds and crops year after year.

All about bees

In the UK there are over 250 types of bees and bumblebees. Some are solitary, some are very social and like to gather regularly but they all feed on pollen and nectar. The nectar is converted into honey and that’s what is used to feed the younger insects.

Gathering nectar is actually what causes the bees to brush their furry bodies against the stamens of the plants and in so doing they get covered in pollen. We don’t often think about this because it’s hard to witness in person but as they move from flower to flower they transport the pollen along the way almost the same way as you would shake off water from a raincoat during a storm. So that pollen gets distributed to the stigma of the flower and eventually, you get a seed. It’s almost as though they don’t realize they are doing it.

And this is why you can help. By growing a lot of plants and not just one, you can create a garden that’s enticing to bees from the middle or end of spring all the way through the beginning of autumn. Having different plants over the course of this growing season is particularly important because as mentioned their over 250 types of bees and they emerge at different points throughout the season and also hibernate at different points. Some solitary bees and bumblebees might get moving as early as the end of February or the beginning of March.

Having a mixture of plants that flower early can help these early bloomers get a head start. Of course, summer is the biggest time for bees so the more you can have blooming during the summer the better off you will be. You don’t want to pick over hybridized plants because these modifications effectively mean the plants are sterile or they have no pollen or they’re designed to be so densely packed that the bees can’t even reach the stamens. Plants that produce small flowers are great for this especially plants that have big openings or easily accessible lower pedals as a landing pad. Slender spikes that produce hundreds of small flowers like lavender are also great as long as they don’t obscure the bees from getting the nectar.

If you have some of the best perennials for bees you can expect a well-pollinated garden that gives you ample benefits.

So what should you include? How do you make sure you have a great combination?

The best perennials for attracting bees into your garden

Below are the best perennials for bees And if you mix and match those that bloom at various points of the year with different physical designs and flower sizes you are sure to provide a great garden for bees. 

1. Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ (Russian sage)

Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ or Russian sage that it is commonly known flowers in the middle of summer and it’s a somewhat fragrant perennial that is certain to bring around Ample bees. It starts off green and produces the adorable violet flowers running up the length of the green stems between the middle of summer in the middle of fall and the best thing is while it does bloom a little bit later in the season it stays there for much longer.

2. Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ (Butterfly bush)

fast growing Buddleia davidii ideal for screening

The butterfly bush as the name suggests brings with it a great deal of butterflies and bees. The Royal Red butterfly bush, in particular, is another late flowerer that shows up at the end of summer and continues to bloom through the beginning of Autumn. It’s very appealing with the panicles of bright fuchsia flowers small and collected in the shape of a cone sticking straight out in all directions.

3. Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’

Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ is one of the early bloomers and it will be a great way to jumpstart your garden get everything blooming early on at the end of spring around June and grows in a large mass and works well in any type of garden including containers or border gardens. In fact, it does better if you’re able to cultivate it in large groups so planting multiple Salvia plants in a single container and dotting them around your small balcony or patio is a great way to capitalize upon a small space.

4. Lavender angustifolia ‘Munstead’

The lavender angustifolia is, of course, a great addition to any garden as lavender offers delightful colours and smells. This is a petit cultivar so it won’t take over the space but it does grow well in rock gardens or dry, hot places like on a patio in a container. But the thing about this version is that it blooms at the beginning of Summer and it stays blooming through the beginning of autumn with its bright green foliage and its richly purple flowers. The foliage is actually around most of the year. 

5. Veronica Spicata Rotfuchs ‘Red Fox’

Info about image for alt text

If you want to offer an extended blooming season for your pollinators, the Veronica Spicata Rotfuchs ‘Red Fox’ is great. A spike seedwell, it will grow in a low, sprawling habitat and give you two flushes of flowers throughout the season.

6. Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Tuscan Sun’

This is a native perennial that will grow well in just about any garden and its versatility means you can put it in containers on your patio or in your garden. It’s very tolerant of drought and heat, it will grow in shade or clay soil. You can keep it producing beautiful fall sunflowers All Summer long by deadheading.

7. Berry awesome hibiscus

This perennial is a hibiscus that produces large flowers so you will no doubt see when a honey bee lands on them. It’s another late bloomer that shows up around the middle of summer, sometimes the end of summer. But it will certainly catch the eye not only of the honeybees but of anyone walking around your garden.

8. Bergamot Monarda Gardenview Scarlet

This is a special cultivar called bee balm and the Bergamot Monarda Gardenview Scarlet, in particular, is one of the more colourful you’re going to find and one of the more disease-resistant. This variety has a more refined and tighter look so instead of the old cultivars which would grow up and then flop all over, this will stay in a tight Bunch. The stunningly scarlet red flowers are sure to draw your eye in the middle of summer and that of bees.

9. Butterfly weed

The blonde bombshell butterfly weed is a perennial that is a great source of food for Monarch butterflies it will also draw other pollinators to its tiny clusters of bright yellow flowers like bees.

10. Baptistia Vanilla cream

This is another way to get your garden blooming early, as this will start to show flowers at the end of spring. It’s a perennial that gives a lot of size and colour to your garden so make sure you have the space for it. If you have a larger yard this is a wonderful way to attract bees and other pollinators to a given area where perhaps you are trying to grow ample flowers or vegetables and fruit. You can plant them next to a giant container garden or alongside the edges of your garden. The deep tap roots make it very heat tolerant and drought tolerant. Be advised though it lives for a long time and will likely outlive you so once you decide on its permanent home it’s going to be just that, permanent. You will find it almost impossible to move once it’s been established.

11. Echinacea ‘Purpurea’ (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpuruem

On the note of cones, the Echinacea ‘Purpurea’ doesn’t actually have cone-shaped flowers but it is a native prairie flower that will attract bees easily. Being as it is a native prairie flower it’s also very tolerant of drought which works out well during the summer especially if you are trying to conserve water. It blooms in the early summer so it will be one of the first to show up and it remains in bloom throughout the Autumn.

12. Alliums (Ornamental onions)

Giant Onion (Allium Giganteum) 

Ornamental onions are delightful perennial because of their giant round balloons. They look like tufts of clouds with their beautiful pom-poms and purple colour but colours can vary depending on the variety. The green foliage and the flowers alike will attract rabbits and deer as well as necessary pollinators throughout the summer. This one is more of a late bloomer and it will manifest those pom flowers in large clusters around the middle of summer to the end of summer.

Overall each of these offers a wonderful opportunity to bring one of the 250 species of bees and bumblebees to your yard as well as other pollinators like butterflies. By growing more than one you can, of course, attract the more solitary species and those that travel in larger social groups no matter when they come out of hibernation.

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Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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