Top Five Native Plants to Attract Pollinators

Here are my recommendations for native plants to plant for the following conditions:

No supplemental irrigation needed
Attracts native pollinators like bees, butterflies and wasps
Either perennial or self-seeding annual

beach sunflower

1. Beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis) This sprawling perennial will bring all the native bees to your yard. It’s also an excellent groundcover, will take light foot traffic, blooms from late spring to the first hard freeze, and produces a huge amount of biomass for chop & drop. It does spread from seed so it will hop around your yard but doesn’t seem to smother other plants. It needs relatively rich soil and full sun.


2. Florida Pusley (Richardia scabra) Pusley is a really unfortunate name for a neat groundcover that also brings the tiny native bees. You probably already have this in your yard if you look for it. I let this “weed” grow freely in my lawn and on the edges of beds. Small native bees love the tiny white flowers and the plants are also host to some moths and butterfly larvae.


3. Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) Give this plant room! It needs sun and relatively rich soil, but no extra water. The large orange flat blossoms are stunning. I grow this plant in my forest garden primarily for chop & drop and feeding the bees in the late summer. Since most fruit trees bloom here in the early spring, to keep the bees hanging around you have to provide them plenty of food all year.


4. Ironweed, either Giant (Vernonia gigantea) or Common (Vernonia augustifolia) These lovely plants also need sun and room- they get large and self-seed prolifically. Excellent for chop & drop if you can catch them before they go to seed. Wasps love ironweed and so do butterflies and hummingbirds!

dotted horsemint

5. Spotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata) This one is included in the list because even though it has a shorter blossoming window, the bees, flies, small butterflies, wasps, and beetles make a cloud around this plant when it’s in full bloom. Self-seeding annual, mild medicinal herb for chills and fever, has a spicy taste similar to oregano but slightly more bitter.

These five plants can be found at the native plant sales in the Spring and Fall at Morningside, you can purchase seeds, or you can collect seeds in the wild and seed it yourself.

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