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Borage flowers - discover the top 10 plants for pollinators, including bees and butterflies

Our gardens are home to a huge range of living creatures, and they play a very important role pollinating our plants.

Unfortunately, their numbers are dropping around the world, thanks to a pesticide use and a loss of their natural habitats.

But insect activity is great for the whole garden ecosystem. If you help them, they will help you!

The easy way to attract more beneficial wildlife to come and explore your garden is to grow pollen and nectar-rich plants that they love. Aim to have their favourite varieties blooming from early spring to late autumn to keep them happy.

Here are my top 10 plants for pollinators. And why not read my guide to creating insect hotels?

1 Lavender

lavender-plants-in-a-field how to take lavender cuttings

This is a great all-rounder. It’s hardy, it smells lovely and it looks great all year round. Bees and butterflies in particular love it.  It’s also a perfect for cutting and drying. Plant it along a pathway so it releases its scent as you walk by. And prune well after flowering for the best display the following year.

2 Dahlia

dahlia-red-flowers

The single or semi-double flowered varieties are best. Double flowers are often bred without pollen-producing parts. Others have too many petals, making it difficult for bees to find the bounty. But simple dahlias are hardy and low-maintenance plants for pollinators.

3 Wallflower

erysimum-wallflower-pollinating-insects

These are like small shrubs, and flower during spring and summer. Many varieties have strong scents that make them perfect for edging pathways too. Most are biennial, meaning that you can refresh your display every two years.

4 Borage

borage-flowers-plants-for-pollinators

Also known as starflower, this is actually a Mediterranean herb. It has lovely star-shaped blue flowers that pollinating insects love. It has lovely soft green foliage and self-seeds, so it’s low-maintenance.

5 Foxgloves

foxglove-flower-spires-self-seeding-cottage-plants

These are a quintessential British cottage garden plant. They have bell-shaped flowers that are popular with bees, and come in a wide range of colours. They are also special for being one of the few flowering plants that grow happily in shady spots.

6 Cosmos

cosmos-flower-field-plants-for-pollinators

These are very long-flowering, giving blooms from June until late autumn. Deadhead the plants and they will keep on giving. There are loads of different styles and colours, and some have great scents too. I love the chocolate cosmos!

7 Scabious

scabious-plants-for-pollinators

Scabious plants have feathery blooms, usually in a pale lavender or cream colour. They are full of nectar, and insects including moths and butterflies love them. They look great in any bed. Cut stems back after flowering and they will carry on producing for months on end.

8 Verbena bonariensis

verbena-bonariensis

This is a great tall plant that is much loved by pollinators. It originally comes from Argentina, but it grows well in Britain. It has tall, strong flower heads bearing masses of tiny purple blooms. Cut the stems back after flowering to encourage more to grow.

9 Marigolds

marigolds-orange-flowers-bedding-plant

Marigolds are ideal summer bedding plants. They will grow in any soil type, and reward you (and the pollinators) with loads of bright, fiery flowers. Aim to buy varieties with open centres so insects can easily reach the pollen.

10 Marjoram

marjoram-oregano-with-butterfly

Better known as oregano, this is another great herb that pollinators love. If left to grow freely, it produces tiny, delicate flowers in a pink or white shade. They have spiky, protruding stamen that offer the pollen freely, making them a great choice for insects.

Once you have these plants in the garden, it’s important not to use any pesticides on them while they are in bloom. And why not make the insects feel even more welcome by building them a home?

Read my step-by-step guide to making your own insect hotel.


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