For bees to benefit from a colorful planted garden, you should choose the right plants. We show the top 10 bee friendly perennials.
From spring to late fall, bees (Apidae) need thousands of flowers to provide them with pollen and nectar. Long-flowering perennials are particularly easy to care for and productive for this purpose, and they also give gardeners a lot of pleasure. In this article, we have summarized for you the top 10 most beautiful perennials. This list should also give you ideas on how to make your garden even more insect-friendly.
Perennials are perennial plants, but unlike shrubs, they die back above ground in the winter and always sprout fresh in the spring. Accordingly, we can enjoy the pretty garden inhabitants for a long time. Below we present ten wonderfully flowering perennials for your own home garden.
Bee Friendly Perennials – Starthistle
A beautiful bee friendly perennials representative of the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) is the great starthistle (Astrantia major). It is a forest and meadow perennial native to Central Europe and is found mainly at higher altitudes of up to 1,2 miles. The flowers on long flower stem at a height of about 70 centimeters offer a very special sight. The small flower umbels are surrounded by a star-shaped ring of colored bracts. Starthistle likes to grow in calcareous, moist loamy soils with a good supply of nutrients. It does not need much sun, but it tolerates it if the water supply is right. It is a real magnet for bumblebees, bees, and other insects.
Yarrow plants (Achillea sp.), which belong to the daisy family (Asteraceae), comes in a wide variety of colors and heights. Depending on the species, the plant with the filigree pinnate leaves reaches a height of 10 to 60 inches. The many small flowers are arranged in false umbels and beguile many industrious pollinators with their very own fragrance from June into the fall. The outer petals appear in a vibrant pink through crimson to a fiery orange, yellow, and white. Yarrow prefers to be in light, well-drained soil in full sun. However, in order to enjoy the splendor of the flowers every year, the perennials should be divided every few years and thus rejuvenated.
Large-flowered cocklebur (Gaillardia x Grandiflora) is a hybrid of a perennial Gaillardia Grandiflora and the annual Gaillardia pulchella. The coquina flower produces large basket flowers that are either yellow or dark-colored in the center. The outer corona of ray florets is either solid yellow to dark red or attractively bicolored. The flowering period lasts from July to October, providing extremely long periods of food for busy pollinators. As a steppe plant, it is sensitive to waterlogging and likes to stand on well-drained and light soils.
The verbena (Verbena Officinalis) delights every year again with its delicate purple flowers, which bees, in particular, find irresistible. It is closely related to the wonderfully fragrant lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora). As a medicinal plant, it is used in alternative medicine for headaches and depression. Nowadays it can be found in many gardens as a flowering perennial, where it reaches up to 30 inches in height in favorable locations. From June to October, verbena can produce long-stalked flowers over and over again, making it one of the long-blooming perennials. Verbena prefers to grow in nutrient-poor, rather dry and sunny to semi-shady locations.
Bonesets (Eupatorium sp.) is a member of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family and has long been known as a medicinal plant for speeding up wound healing and as a stimulating herb. As its name suggests, it feels especially at home near ponds and bodies of water. Depending on the variety, it reaches a height of about 32 inches to over 6.5 feet. From June to September, the pretty white, purple, or wine-red false umbels provide plenty of food. Unlike many other bee perennials, water asters prefer a semi-shady, moist location. In early spring, the nutrient-hungry perennial also enjoys a dose of compost.
So popular with our cuddly tigers, fragrant catmint (Nepeta cataria) also provides nectar and pollen for bees in spring from April. Like thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), the delicately blue, purple, or white flowering perennial belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Naturally, the perennial, which grows up to 55 inches high, is swarmed by many insects. Catmint is very undemanding and grows best in poor, well-drained soil in sunny locations. After the first bloom, it can be cut back to encourage a second bloom in the summer.
Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile) has coarse, thick-fleshed leaves and forms large inflorescences with many small individual flowers. From white to sunny yellow to deep red, all colors are represented. Depending on the species, the stonecrop reaches a height of up to 56 inches. From June to September, the hardy perennial is a popular bee pasture. Well-drained and nutrient-rich soil is ideal for planting stonecrop and since it always carries its water supply in its thick leaves, even drought does not bother it much.
The group of asters (Aster) is the namesake of the composite plant family (Asteraceae). The name means “star”, which alludes to the radially arranged petals. The aster family includes the smooth-leaved aster (Symphyotrichum Novi-belgii) and the rough-leaved aster (Symphyotrichum Novi-angliae), as well as the myrtle aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) and the small pillow aster (Symphyotrichum dumosus). All of these perennials are readily sought out by butterflies and bees. From July until late autumn, the asters, which can grow up to three meters high, are very busy every day. In terms of color, asters cover all shades from dark purple to pink, but also red and orange to white, and thus wonderfully complement any bed.
Goldenrods (Solidago canadensis) are real insect magnets; during the flowering period from June to September, there is an audible buzz around the tall perennials. This golden-yellow prairie perennial from North America forms long canes with many small individual yellow flowers on them. In the wild, it spreads widely by self-seeding and has conquered all of Europe and large parts of Asia. Therefore, withered seed heads should be cut off directly and composted. Goldenrod prefers medium to heavy, calcareous soils in full sun. Goldenrod is also extremely undemanding in terms of nutrients and water. It is used as a medicinal herb in homeopathy. It has a positive effect on kidney ailments.
The Indian nettle (Monarda didyma), which grows up to 60 inches tall, is also called a golden balm, although its flowers are a rich red. From June to August, it is eagerly visited by various bees and butterflies. This perennial has a fruity-fresh scent of lemon, so its leaves can also be prepared as a tea. Originally from North America, it loves bright and warm locations with a good water supply. In spring it shoots up rapidly and is therefore also happy about annual fertilizer applications.
If you want to do something good not only for bees but also for our native butterflies, take a look at our special article on the top 10 butterfly-friendly plants or the 15 most beautiful bee shrubs.