What to Plant to Attract Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Other Pollinators

Maybe you’ve read that it’s important to attract pollinators – bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other critters who move pollen within flowers or carry pollen from flower to flower of the same species leading to fertilization – to your garden and wondered where to start. One out of every three bites of your food depends on a pollinator, so rolling out the welcome mat and ringing the dinner bell for pollinators by planting varieties they’ll love is just plain smart.


Whether you’re starting from scratch or playing catch up in an existing garden, we’ve got do-it-now advice and what to plant to attract specific pollinators from Monrovia Craftsman Mindy Plass, our resident expert on Plant Protection and Integrated Pest Management.

Here are her top tips for first luring in pollinators and then keeping them hard at work in your garden.

  • Determine which pollinator-friendly plants are appropriate for your region.

  • Plant lots of them. Make sure there is at least 3 x 3 feet of each plant species. These can be planted together, or in other areas of the garden.

  • Composite flowers (clusters of many small flowers called florets, each of which is a full flower) such as coreopsis, sunflowers, asters, yarrow, etc are little pollen factories.

  • Choose single flowers — those with one ring of petals — over double flowers;  these are easier for pollinators to reach the inner flower parts.

  • Limit your use of chemicals (both synthetic and organic) and use plenty of compost and mulch to build healthy soil. Healthy soils create healthy plants.

  • Plan your garden so that there is something blooming for as many months as you can manage. Many pollinators, especially bees, forage during the entire growing season.

  • Provide shelter by letting your yard get a little wild. Allow a hedge to grow untrimmed, leave a section of lawn unmowed, pile up grass cutting in a sunny spot, and create a nesting habitat by leaving some soil bare for ground nesting bees.

Plants that attract hummingbirds

Plants that attract bees

Plants that attract butterflies

Still buzzing around for more? Here are another ten excellent choices. Find many, many more on monrovia.com.

(lead image: courtesy of Houston Arboretum)

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