Posts Tagged ‘nectary plants’

Feeding Our Pollinators

Sometimes I write a post that is a thinly disguised excuse for posting a bunch of pictures of flowers. However, it isn’t frivolous because flowers really matter. One of my gardening goals this year is to keep a fairly steady supply of flowers going for the pollinators and notice which ones they visit the most.

Starting in early spring, the Japanese plum trees were heavily visited. The next thing that bloomed was the black locust tree, and it was absolutely mobbed with bees. I could sit under the tree and listen to the loud hum.

Next, wisteria, which seemed to be especially attractive to bumblebees.

Turkish Rocket  proved to be a fair bee plant.

The olive-leaved sylvetta arugula is exceptionally attractive to pollinators of all kinds. It’s reliably perennial in my garden and can tolerate any amount of neglect.

The most wildly attractive of all my nectary plants are the poppies. Lavish Shirley poppies, unimproved cornfield poppies, breadseed poppies, Oriental poppies, the bees adore them all. They would be worth a lot of trouble to have, but they aren’t any trouble.


This year I planted patches of bee’s friend, Phacelia tanacetifolia, which is supposed to be the best nectary plant going.  In my garden it bloomed at the same time as the poppies and is being somewhat ignored in the poppy frenzy, but bees do visit it and I enjoy having it around, so I will certainly plant some more next year.

Ornamental and edible alliums that are allowed to flower are a hit with honeybees.

I plant alfalfa all over the place and always let some flower, and my common yard hollyhocks are visited frequently by bees.  There are many unspectacular flowers that the bees like just fine. I  grew a lot of arugula around my yard and let it go to flower so that it will see that self, and the bees like the small nondescript flowers.  If you grow vegetables in the mustard family and don’t get around to eating them all, you can always let one or two go to seed and the bees will enjoy them. Edible weeds dandelion and sow thistle are liked by bees, making them nice  to have around on two counts.

Just don’t spray. Please don’t spray.

Pollinator Independence


When I think about our country’s independence, I think about personal independence and how important food supply is to that. In maintaining a steady home food supply, one of the things you need is a steady supply of feed for your pollinators. I have been paying a lot of attention to trying to have a steady supply of nectary plants throughout the summer, and in our hot desert summer that can be difficult. Currently, the poppies are pretty much finished blooming, and I find that cardoons and artichokes are extraordinarily attractive to bees when allowed to flower.  I have a number of cardoon plants that grow beautifully in our hot summer and alkaline soil but have not turned out to be much good for eating; one day soon I will post on that depressing topic.  But the plants more than earn their keep by feeding my bees in fiery July.

Keep the pollinators in your thoughts when you do any yard planning and planting. Remember that they are extremely sensitive to sprays, and in my opinion there is not a good justification for a home gardener to use insecticide sprays in the garden.  Look around your neighborhood in July and August and see what is blooming or ready to bloom, and think about providing some of it for the bees and wasps.  Right now cardoons are front and center in my garden, cutting celery that I allowed to bloom is drawing beneficial tiny predatory wasps in large numbers, and sunflowers are just starting.  I planted a few cannas this year in order to do kitchen experiments with the bulbs in the fall, and as long as they are kept well mulched and given some water they sail through the heat, and those flowers also seem attractive to bees.

Bless our bees, because oh, how we need them.