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Pollinators like bees are essential to the reproductive success of many plant species. Attracting pollinators to your garden can help plants produce a more bountiful harvest by ensuring that more flowers are fertilized with pollen.
While plants generally do a fine job attracting pollinators on their own, some are real bee magnets. Adding a few of these species around your garden can help get more bees visiting your veggies.
Here are some low-maintenance, hardy options that will add color and variety to your garden as well as attract lots of bees.
Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantia) is a fast-growing ground cover that sends up tufty stalks with clusters of small purple flowers. Its leaves are gray-green, covered in soft downy fuzz, and similar in size and shape to the ear of a lamb.
Blooming from mid-spring through the summer, lamb’s ear spreads quickly and tolerates infrequent watering. The dense layers of its leaves help to slow evaporation and keep weeds in check. Plant it along the borders or in mixed decorative beds.
You can get the seeds here.
Mint blooms from mid-summer to early autumn and is a good choice if you want to attract bees to pollinate fall crops.
Bees love the small purple or white flowers that grow in branching clusters.
Trim mint regularly if you want to keep it compact, and cut back to ground level in the fall.
Mint comes back year after year and is easy to propagate by splitting the plant or by rooting cuttings in water.
Sage blooms from mid-spring through early summer and will bloom multiple times if the stems are cut back after flowering.
It makes a good border plant, growing to about a meter (or roughly 3 feet) in width and about as high.
Sages usually live about three to five years and are highly drought tolerant.
You can get Sage seeds here.
Oregano is a useful culinary herb as well as a magnet for pollinators. If you’re growing it to use as a seasoning, harvest it right before it blooms for the most intense flavor.
If you also want to attract lots of bees, grow enough oregano so you can leave some to bloom. Fortunately, oregano belongs to the same family as mint and shares the propensity for easy and rapid growth.
Oregano will seed itself, and once you have it established it will be there to stay.
Get your Oregano seeds here.
A top choice for the water-conscious gardener, lavender is beautiful, smells wonderful, and is adored by bees. It will grow in poor soil, requires little water, and prefers full sun.
Both kinds attract bees, but French lavender blooms earlier, around mid to late spring, while English Lavender blooms in early through mid-summer.
If you intend to harvest the blooms to dry, don’t forget to leave some for the bees.
Get French Lavender Seeds Here.
Get English Lavender Seeds Here.
More flowers, more bees
There are many flowering plants that attract bees and other beneficial insects, but these are among the hardiest, easiest-to-grow, and most widely adaptable.
They require little or no care besides occasional watering and trimming, and have multiple other uses as well. Most importantly, if you want more bees in your garden, these are sure bets.