10 Best Flowers for Bees and Butterflies

Initially, bees can seem pretty intimidating thanks to their threatening stingers. However, bees aren’t out for much more than the best flowers for bees.

This is important to know too because bees are an important part of the environment. Unfortunately, they’re also increasingly threatened.

Even if you can’t commit to dedicated practices like beekeeping, there are other options. You can make your own garden more welcoming by adding the best flowers for honey bees.

What are the best flowers for honey bees, though? If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ll help you find some of the best options out there!

Concepts to Consider When Choosing Flowers for Bees

When you’re considering the best flowers for bees and butterflies, remember it isn’t always universal. There are different types of bees, for example, and they’re attracted to different types of flowers.

There are a few features of flowers that will determine whether a bee is attracted to them or not. Here, we’ll quickly break down some features that might attract different types of bees to flowers.

First, bees prefer plants that are native to their area over non-native plants. This means that if you want bees, it’s best to go with native plants.

In addition, stay away from hybridized plants. These plants are usually sterile, so there’s no benefit to the bees!

Similarly, double-flowering plants often have less pollen. This also makes them less attractive to bees.

Color matters more than you might think too. Bees can’t see red but they’re drawn to colors like blue, purple, yellow, and white.

You should mix up the size and shape of your flowers too. You’ll attract different types of bees this way because they have different tongue lengths, giving them varying access.

Goldenrod

Everwilde Farms - Goldenrod Native Wildflower Seeds

Everwilde Farms – Goldenrod Native Wildflower Seeds

The first flower that we recommend for bees is goldenrod. This plant is often confused with ragweed but it won’t set off those allergies.

These are fairly strong plants as well. That means that even if you’re not confident in your green thumb, they’re pretty manageable!

Honeybee on goldenrod flower

Once you plant them, they don’t require frequent watering, making them drought-resistant. Plus, they’re suitable for multiple soil types so long as you offer them plenty of drainage.

After you initially plant goldenrod, it will come back year after year. This way, you can always have something in your garden for the bees.

Dahlias

Dahlia Seeds Compound Petals Multi-Color Mixed

Dahlia Seeds Compound Petals Multi-Color Mixed

If you want to add something to your garden that will attract bees late in the season, try out dahlias! These flowers are also gorgeous and bloom through the summer and fall in an array of colors.

Dahlias aren’t great in cold soil, though. So, you should wait until the soil at least measures 60 degrees Fahrenheit or past the last spring frost to plant them.

That is, in the ground, at least. You can start growing them in a sunny window early so they’re ready to attract bees sooner.

Butterflies and bumble bees on Dahlias flowers

They’ll fare best in well-drained soil and with full sun exposure. Your soil needs to be slightly acidic as well with a pH of around 6.5 to 7.0.

Wait until they flower to water them once they’re planted to avoid overwatering. After that, you can water them two or three times a week with a sprinkler for a half hour.

Pansies

The Three Company Live Flowering 1 Quart Pansies

The Three Company Live Flowering 1 Quart Pansies

Pansies are among the most common flower to find a garden. This is actually great news because bees love them!

Pansies actually have a preference for cooler weather. To avoid the heat of the summer, it’s best to start planting in either early spring or fall.

Pansies flowers and bee

You have quite a few options when it comes to planting pansies. They work well both in a pot and as a border flower for your garden.

The other great news about pansies is that they last a while. If you properly care for them and plant them in the right climate, you might even see them bloom all year long.

Bee Balm

Outsidepride Monarda Didyma Bee Balm Plant Seed Mix

Outsidepride Monarda Didyma Bee Balm Plant Seed Mix

As the name might suggest, you can use bee balm to make your garden more welcoming to bees. As an added bonus, they’re fragrant too, so your garden will smell nice.

The best environment for bee balm plants is soil that’s rich and moist with plenty of sunlight. You can opt for plants that grow up to four feet or dwarf plants that are only 10 inches tall.

Bee balm flower and bee

If you want plenty of these purple flowers, you should actually pick them fairly quickly. This will help promote flower growth.

The biggest issue to watch out for with bee balm plants is powdery mildew. This looks like a layer of dust or gray powder on the leaves and buds.

This is most likely to happen when the weather is cool and damp. There are plenty of natural remedies and fungicides that you can use to solve this problem.

There are ways to avoid the problem of powdery mildew in the first place. Offering your bee balm an area with plenty of circulation while avoiding overhead watering will help.

Peonies

Seed Needs Peony Poppy Seed Collection

Seed Needs Peony Poppy Seed Collection

Peonies are another popular flower to keep in a garden if you want beauty and bees. They’re known for their beauty and their unique appearance.

This is because the peonies in one garden can look vastly different from peonies in another garden. They can vary in the color they bloom in as well as in size and shape.

Peony blossom and bee

A peony will likely bloom in either the fall or spring, depending on when you plant them. They do best with bare-root planting in an area where they’ll get plenty of sun.

Catmint

Outsidepride Blue Nepeta Catmint Herb Plant Flower Seeds

Outsidepride Blue Nepeta Catmint Herb Plant Flower Seeds

Catmint is great for bees because they keep their blooms for quite a while. From the late spring into fall, they prove a great source of nectar for both bumblebees and honey bees.

To get more specific, you can expect these blue or purple blooms to last from May to September. They typically grow as tall as three feet or as short as nine inches.

The good news is that catmint is easy to grow. As such, you won’t have to worry too much about extensive or complicated care.

Catmint plant and bumble bees

These herbs are a good idea because they serve as a deterrent for pests like aphids. This can protect your garden by drawing bees in and keeping harmful insects out.

The ideal setting for catmint is partial shade and well-draining soil. They’re both heat and drought-tolerant, meaning they fare well in warmer climates.

Black Eyed Susans

Sweet Yards Seed Co. Black Eyed Susan Seeds

Sweet Yards Seed Co. Black Eyed Susan Seeds

Black Eyed Susans are a classic choice for any garden. They’re closely related to sunflowers, so you can expect them to bloom with beautiful yellow flowers.

The biggest difference between these and sunflowers, aesthetically, is proportions. While sunflowers have a wide center and shorter petals, these flowers have longer petals from a more concentrated center.

Honey bee on Black Eyed Susans flower

One thing that Black Eyed Susans and sunflowers have in common is a love for the sun. Plant them somewhere that has plenty of sunlight to see the best results.

These flowers bloom in the summer and the blooms will last into fall. This is when you’ll see bees flock to your Black Eyed Susans.

Chives Flowers

Seed Needs, Common Chives Herb (Allium schoenoprasum)

Seed Needs, Common Chives Herb (Allium schoenoprasum)

There are also some herbs that you can plant to attract bees. Not to mention, planting herbs will give you something to use in your kitchen as well!

Chives, in particular, are great to keep around to attract bees. They flower in the early spring and bees love the small blooms.

Chives flower and bee in background

If you’re planting chives outside, though, it’s better to keep them in planters rather than directly in the ground. This is because chives grow so quickly, they can overrun a garden fairly easily.

If you’re wondering, you can technically eat the chive blossoms as well. They’re often described as having a mild onion flavor and go great in salads!

Mint

Sow Right Seeds - Mint Seed for Planting

Sow Right Seeds – Mint Seed for Planting

If you want another herb that is useful in the kitchen and well-loved by bees, mint is a great choice. Once again, it’s the flowers that bloom that attract the bees.

These light purple flowers bloom in the summer and last until fall. You can expect to see them between June and September.

Bee on mint herb white blossom

Much like chives, you have to be careful so that mint won’t take over your garden. As such, it’s best to keep your mint plants in pots rather than planting them in the ground.

Snowdrops

Elwyn 20 Snowdrop Flower Seeds

Elwyn 20 Snowdrop Flower Seeds

Snowdrops get their name because you might see them bloom while there’s still snow on the ground. Plus, the blooms themselves are white like snow.

These flowers bloom in the early spring and they attract bees to their nectar. Because of this timeline, they provide an early attractant for bees as they begin to reappear.

Snowdrop flower and bee

Even better, you don’t have to worry about snowdrops adding a lot of stress to your garden routine. They’re easy to maintain and don’t require a lot of intensive care.

If you want to add snowdrops to your garden, start planting them early in the fall. In the late spring and through the summer, the bulbs will go dormant and reappear in the fall.


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