It's no secret that the populations of pollinators like bees and butterflies are dropping. Plants can't reproduce without these vital insects and birds, so it's important that we do what we can to keep them healthy and happy.
You can't save the world all by yourself, but planting a pollinator garden is a small way to help the planet while filling your yard with beautiful flowers. Get started today, and then sit back and watch your yard come alive with delicate hummingbirds, magnificent butterflies, and buzzing bees.
Elegant snapdragons are instantly recognizable by their uniquely shaped blossoms in a wide variety of colors. These plants release four times the fragrance of other flowers, making them supremely attractive to pollinating insects. Their flowers were designed by nature to be big enough to fit a bee inside before snapping shut, ensuring the bee is covered in pollen by the time it's done feasting.
Although snapdragons are annuals, they will readily reseed if given the opportunity.
Monarch populations have crashed, and a significant factor in that decline is the increasing scarcity of milkweed. While this plant's name implies it's an unwanted pest, it actually produces striking, bright yellow flowers that are an attractive addition to any pollinator garden.
As the only plant that can host monarch caterpillars, planting milkweed is almost a guarantee that you'll have stunning orange and black visitors this year.
The scent of lavender is a simple pleasure for both humans and insects alike. Multiple species of butterflies flock to lavender's delicate, cone-shaped, long-lasting flowers that can be harvested at the end of the season for cooking and crafting.
Lavender plays well with other pollinator species like echinacea and thrives among herbaceous plants. Plant it just about anywhere you want a pop of color.
Adding this mid-summer bloomer to your garden to follow spring flowers will ensure there's always food available for pollinators. Delphinium blooms are particularly helpful if you're hoping to entice hummingbirds without using artificial hummingbird food.
However, plant them with caution, as all parts of the plant are poisonous to both humans and non-pollinator animals.
If you love a plant that does double duty, feed both yourself and pollinating insects by planting chives. A versatile herb beloved by chefs and home cooks alike, chives produce round, pink flowers that are an essential food source for a wide assortment of bees. They also repel aphids, making them a great companion for any other food-producing plants you want to protect from pests.
The name says it all. Bee balm, also known as wild bergamot, is a pollinator rockstar, attracting not only bees, but also butterflies, including monarchs. Its red, white, pink, or purple blooms are well-known for giving off an intense orange-tinged scent.
Bee balm is a safe choice for any pollinator garden as it's non-toxic, though it can cause stomach upset if eaten, so keep it away from small children and animals.
A must-have in any pollinator garden, echinacea is a popular companion plant to a host of other plants on this list. It's commonly called coneflower and is well-known for its medicinal properties, but its nectar is also an important food source for bees and butterflies.
Once the critters have had their fill, boil the flowers, leaves, and roots to create a soothing tea.
With densely-packed purple flowers containing super-sweet nectar, anise hyssop is a top pick among beekeepers worldwide. A native of the North American prairies, this perennial flower deserves a permanent place in your pollinator garden.
While anise hyssop works well with other grassland plants, keep it away from your vegetable patch or you risk stunting your tubers.
The foothill penstemon is a hearty drought-resistant plant that is a good option for gardeners with limited access to water and rocky soil. Its blue and purple flowers will bring butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to your garden from late spring to mid-summer.
Another annual that self-seeds, this flowering plant will add some height to your garden, growing up to 24 inches tall.
Plant joe pye weed if you want giant, showy butterflies lofting through your garden all the way through the end of the growing season.
Blooming as late as September, this plant's vanilla-scented clusters of purple and pink flowers will keep your yard colorful even when other flowers have withered. But make sure you give joe pye weed a wide berth: it can grow up to six feet tall.