The Best Plants to Attract Pollinators, by Region

attract pollinators

A bee on a black-eyed Susan.

Marek Walica / Shutterstock.com

Pollinators are easy to attract to your farm or garden. There are four keys to success: don’t spray herbicides or insecticides; do provide habitat; do provide a food source; and focus on native species.

The first of those is straightforward enough, and the second two are taken care of by planting nectar-rich flowers that bloom over a long period of the year. The foliage itself provides habitat—most insect pollinators like dense vegetation to hide out from predators and lay eggs—and the flowers provide the fuel. Plants native to your area are the best bet because they have co-evolved with the native pollinators.

The more diverse your plantings are, the better, as some species are very picky about what they use for food and egg-laying. To get you started, here are a few ideas for pollinator plants native to each area of the country. Extensive regional guides can be found at pollinator.org, a project of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. They even have a handy app.

Northwest

Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
Flowers: blue/purple, April-May
Size/Type: 3’ tall x 3’ wide  shrub
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees

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Hairy Honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)
Flowers: pink, June-August
Size/Type: 10’ tall vine
Sun/Water: part shade, medium water
Attracts: hummingbirds

Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)
Flowers: yellow, April-June
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: part shade, medium-high water
Attracts: bees

Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Flowers: white, April-June
Size/Type: 20’ feet tall x 15’ wide tree
Sun/Water: part shade, medium-high water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Flea Bane (Erigeron spp.)
Flowers: various colors, June-August
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Southwest

Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
Flowers: red-orange, February-May
Size/Type: 10’ tall x 10’ wide shrub
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: hummingbirds

Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi)
Flowers: yellow, June-August
Size/Type: 2’ x 2’ perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees, hummingbirds, moths, bats

Jimson Weed (Datura wrightii)
Flowers: white, May-October
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: moths

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia spp.)
Flowers: yellow, April-June
Size/Type: 6’ tall x 6’ wide succulent
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees

Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina)
Flowers: green/yellow, March-August
Size/Type: 30’ tall x 20’ wide tree
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Midwest

Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Flowers: yellow/orange, May-July
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, medium water
Attracts: butterflies, hummingbirds

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Flowers: purple, June-August
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, medium water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Sumac (Rhus spp.)
Flowers: white, April-August
Size/Type: 8’ tall x 8’ wide shrub
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: butterflies, bees

Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba)
Flowers: white, June-September
Size/Type: 6’ tall x 6’ wide
Sun/Water: full sun, medium-high water
Attracts: bees

Wild Indigo (Baptisia spp.)
Flowers: blue/purple, March-June
Size/Type: 4’ tall x 4’ wide
Sun/Water: part sun, medium-low water
Attracts: bees

Southeast

Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)
Flowers: yellow, May-July
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 2’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Flowers: purple/blue, May-June
Size/Type: 3’ tall x 3’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: part sun, low water
Attracts: butterflies, hummingbirds

Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora incarnata)
Flowers: multi-colored, May-July
Size/Type: 10’ tall vine
Sun/Water: full sun, medium water
Attracts: hummingbirds, butterflies

Painted Buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica)
Flowers: white, April-May
Size/Type: 12’ tall x 12’ wide shrub
Sun/Water: shade, medium-high water
Attracts: bees, hummingbirds

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)
Flowers: yellow, July-October
Size/Type: 3’ tall x 3’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, low water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Northeast

Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Flowers: white, May-June
Size/Type: 6” tall x 6’ wide groundcover
Sun/Water: part sun, low water
Attracts: bees

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Flowers: red, August-October
Size/Type: 3’ tall x 3’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: part sun, high water
Attracts: bees, hummingbirds

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Flowers: yellow, June-September
Size/Type: 2’ tall x 1’ wide perennial
Sun/Water: full sun, medium water
Attracts: bees, butterflies

Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana)
Flowers: white, July-August
Size/Type: 10’ tall vine
Sun/Water: part sun, medium-high water
Attracts: bees

Mapleleaf Viburnum (Vibrunum acerifolium)
Flowers: white, May-June
Size/Type: 5’ tall x 5’ wide shrub
Sun/Water: part sun, medium water
Attracts: bees

The Best Plants to Attract Pollinators, by Region