How to Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden

Have you ever wondered how to make your garden bee-friendly?  Thanks to Ben O’Brian and The Ontario Beekepers’ Association, we have a handy list of his top ten wildflowers and shrubs to plant in your garden to make it a haven for bees.

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WILDFLOWERS

AGASTACHE FOENICULUM (ANISE HYSSOP)

A black-liquorice scented purple wildflower with upright spires that make a lovely winter silhouette.  Will seed itself around, but not to the point where it becomes a nuisance.

ASCLEPIAS SYRIACA (COMMON MILKWEED)

Larval host of the Monarch butterfly. Sweetly scented flowers and fluffy seeds that dance on the slightest breath of wind – what more can you ask for?

ECHINACEA PURPUREA (PURPLE CONEFLOWER)

This iconic North American wildflower is a long bloomer and a magnet for bees and butterflies.  The spiky flower heads endure right through the winter months and hold snow beautifully.

LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER)

Though not an Ontario native, lavender is one of the toughest garden plants, deliciously fragrant, and loved by honey bees especially.

LIATRIS LIGULISTYLIS (MEADOW BLAZINGSTAR)

A recent introduction to my own garden, and has quickly become one of my favourites. One day last summer, I counted four Monarchs on one plant. Soft purple spikes of flowers bloom from the top down.

MONARDA FISTULOSA (WILD BERGAMOT)

Another tough plant with soft pink flowers in mid-summer. Fragrant foliage can be vulnerable to powdery mildew, but that’s no excuse to pass it over. Hummingbirds won’t be far behind.

PYCNANTHEMUM SPP. (MOUNTAIN MINT)

Mountain mints can be a bit thuggish in a garden, but they’re too good to avoid. While in bloom in late summer, plants are absolutely vibrating with insect life.

SILPHIUM SPP. (CUP PLANT)

Towering prairie plants with long lasting yellow flowers and seeds that are loved by birds. S.terebinthinaceum has striking tropical-looking basal leaves and long, unbranched flower stalks.

SHRUBS

AMELANCHIER SPP. (SERVICEBERRY)

Serviceberries are as close to the ideal shrub as you can get. Soft white spring flowers followed by edible purple berries (you’ll have to fight the birds to get them) and orange-red fall foliage.

CERCIS CANADENSIS (REDBUD)

Redbuds bloom before the leaves emerge, making a stunning picture in spring. Not reliably hardy above Zone 6, so if you can grow them count yourself lucky (and grow as many as you can).

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I came across this list at The Green Living Show, and it is reproduced with permission.

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