The Best Plants to Attract Pollinators, by Region

If you plant it, they will come.

attract pollinators
A bee on a black-eyed Susan.
Photography Marek Walica / Shutterstock.com

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

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

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