Top 15 plants for pollinators (summer)

Pollinators play a vital role in our environment, and they support our economy too. It's always good to increase the number of pollinators in our environment, and there are lots of things we can do towards that. Planting nectar-rich plants is just one of those things. But it isn't always easy to know which plants give pollinators the most bang for their buck.

In a bid to make choosing plants super easy for you, we've put together a blog post on some of the top plants for pollinators that grow easily and beautifully in the UK in the summer. And if you don't like having to choose (ooh the pressure!), you can sign up for one of our Seasonal Outdoor plant subscriptions, which always includes plants for pollinators.

1 Salvia

Gorgeous and stately, with deep blue flowers and dancing gently in the breeze, salvia will attract honey bees to even the most pollinator-barren high-rise balcony.

2 Echinacea

Also known as Coneflower, Echincea is rich in nectar and a veritable feast for pollinators. It's a hardy perennial which will increase in size year on year, and has beautiful pink, red or orange flowers.

3 Lavender

Lavender needs no introduction. If there's one thing we all associate with Lavender, it's bees in summer. The gorgeous scent of lavender doesn't just attract humans, it's also a strong signal to bees and butterflies in the area that there's a full-on nectar banquet going down.

4 Cosmos

Statuesque and wavy, delicate and strong, wide cosmos flowers provide the ideal landing strip for bees and butterflies. The bright colour and large, flat face of the flower give flying insects - especially bees - an ideal place to land and recuperate for a few seconds, before continuing their important mission to gather as much nectar as possible for their hive.

5 Calendula

Calendula is in the same family as Marigolds, which you will also hear referred to as an excellent pollinator plant.

6 Nasturtium

Nasturtium

Nasturtiums trail and climb over anything they can find, and reward very little watering or maintenance effort with a flurry of orange, yellow or blood orange flowers throughout the summer months.

7 Borage

Borage is a relatively recent discovery for me, but boy has it made an impact! The incredible star-shaped flowers are an early splash of colour in the summer months, and they just go on and on...

8 Sunflower

Most of us will have grown sunflowers when we were kids, and will have had competitions with siblings or neighbours to grow the tallest one in the street. They are a great educational plant, because they grow so tall, so fast, and because it's very easy to see the seeds inside the flower head at the end of the season, but they are also a great plant to demonstrate the needs of pollinators: bright petals to attract attention, large, wide landing space for pollinators, and easily-accessible nectar.

9 Zinnia

Zinnias

One look at the picture above and you can see the attraction for pollinators to Zinnias: bright, captivating petals, wide landing area, and readily-available pollen. Zinnias are nectar-rich, hassle free and easily accessible, kind of like a drive-thru for bees.

10 Aster

Aster

Asters are a bright and showy mid-to-late summer flower. To humans, they don't have a particularly strong scent, but to bees and butterflies, they're like the trendiest cologne around.

11 Celosia

Celosia

While it may not have a scent that is detectable to humans, it certainly does have a wacky-looking flower that is popular with insects. Celosia is a late-summer/early-autumn flowering plant that ensures an ongoing supply of nectar right through the last warm days of the year.

12 Basil

Basil

If you let basil grow for virtually any time at all outside, you'll quickly start to notice the delicate, white flowers on stalks at the top of the plant. Within even less time, you'll see how much bees and insects are drawn to these flowers.

13 Dill

Dill

Dill provides an excellent food source for both caterpillars and butterflies, and as such, it is of the most widely-used herbs for attracting pollinators.

14 Mint

Mint

How often have you passed by a herb garden, and noticed a swarm of activity buzzing around the mint leaves? Mint flowers are rich in nectar and popular with bees, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) don't actually result in mint-flavoured honey.

15 Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)

Snapdragon

No doubt one of your favourites as a child for the common name 'snapdragon' and for the movement of the flowers when you squeeze the petals either side, antirrhinums are also a favourite with bees. Just watch out that you don't accidentally squeeze a bee inside the flower when trying out the old snapdragon trick!

Our guarantee

We always include plants for pollinators in our outdoor plant collections, so with each new season, you can 'bee' confident (geddit?) that you're doing your bit for your wild insect friends, and providing much-needed nectar for them.

Check out the links below if this sounds like your kind of thing!

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