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2 Flowers for Bees: The Best Options for Attracting Pollinators

Want to help save the bees? Plant these flowers for bees that attract pollinators to your garden. Think sunflowers, rosemary, and more.

Written by
Giulia Lallas

Climate change puts a strain on animals and ecosystems. Research shows many species can't adapt fast enough to survive—bees, included. With unpredictable weather patterns and extreme temperatures in recent years, our pollinating BFFs are struggling to survive. That's why it's important to plant flowers for bees; they attract pollinators to your garden.

Our food system relies heavily on these buzzing insects and their pollinating powers. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one-third of the food we eat comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, broccoli, and almonds. Without bees, we also wouldn't have beeswax wraps to store our food, honey to sweeten our tea, or bee pollen itself to add to our smoothies.

However, many bee species are endangered, such as the rusty patched bumblebee and Hawaiian yellow-faced bees. Many bumblebees can't handle intense heat. And when paired with toxic pesticides, bees are almost certain to face a sad fate. 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help save the bees. One way is to plant more pollinator flowers for the bees in your garden—and eliminate pesticides. Use the map below as a guide to decide which of the plants in this guide will thrive in your area.

12 Pollinator Flowers for Bees

1. Lavender

Thrives In: Zones 5-8

Bees love lavender. With high pollen and nectar levels, the lavender in your garden will attract plenty of bees!

Lavender can last several years in its preferred environment of intensely dry soil and ample sunlight. Plus, it will make your garden smell amazing

2. Sunflowers

Thrives In: Zones 2-11

Sunflowers are great for impressing your neighbors and hosting a bee club in your garden.

Their size makes them plentiful for bees in search of nectar, and their bright petals work wonders in attracting our bee friends. They're great wild bee magnets and help accelerate pollinating processes. 

3. Bee Balm

Thrives In: Zones 3-9

Bee balm, as the name suggests, is extremely popular among bees. This flower is a perennial, which means it will continue to grow in your garden year after year with minimal effort from you.

Just make sure you plant your bee balms in a sunny location and keep the soil moist.

4. Basil

Thrives In: Zones 10-11

Basil thrives in the sun—as do the bees—making it a very attractive source of food and pollen for our pollinator friends. It also thrives in warmer temperatures.

If you plan on growing basil, be sure to plant it in soil that's moist and well-drained to ensure healthy growth.

5. Yarrow

Thrives In: Zones 3-7

It’s hard to find a blooming yarrow plant that isn’t covered in bees. Yarrow comes in many distinct colors and makes for the perfect addition to any garden. 

It's also an excellent option for any gardening enthusiast who forgets to tend to plants from time to time, as it doesn't require fertilizer and only needs to be watered during times of severe drought.

6. Echinacea

Thrives In: Zones 3-8

Echinacea is known by many as the central ingredient in immune-boosting tea varieties. To nurture a healthy Echinacea plant, give it a lot of sunlight and rich, well-drained soil.

Treated right, it can produce up to 100 blooms that bees will be sure to flock to.

7. Zinnia

Thrives In: Zones 3-10

Zinnia flowers are particularly adored by honeybees and bumblebees. Smaller bees and solitary bees, however, can also often be spotted on these little flowers.

They provide a burst of color to your garden from midsummer all the way through the first tough frost of the year.

8. Rosemary

Thrives In: Zone 7-10

Rosemary produces tiny flowers that draw in the bees. In fact, people often struggle to keep bees away from flowered rosemary bushes.

Plus, having an endless stock of rosemary in your garden or herb space means you’ll never run out of seasoning.

9. Verbena

Thrives In: Zones 7-11

Verbena is a fan-favorite in the bee community. These beautiful, long-blooming flowers require eight to 10 hours of sunlight per day, and they're not picky about their soil.

So long as the soil is well-drained, your Verbenas should thrive.

10. Milkweed

Thrives In: Zones 4-9

Milkweed is commonly known as the Monarch Butterfly’s favorite food, but what many don’t realize is that milkweed is also a big bee attractor. 

As a wildflower, milkweed will flourish in dry soil and lots of sunlight.

11. Daisy

Thrives In: Zones 5-8

Some people consider common daisies to be weeds in the lawn, but really, they're simple flowers that are perfect for pollinators for bees!

Daisies bloom from spring through autumn, and these flowers provide plenty of pollen and nectar to our bee friends. Plus, they're easy to care for and can grow in various conditions.

12. Borage

Thrives In: Zones 2-11

Borage is another perfect herb for honeybees and bumblebees. The flowers constantly replenish nectar, and they're fast-growing and easy to care for.

They're not as common as herbs like basil or thyme, but they have a unique look that will make your garden stand out.