Who doesn’t love bees? They pollinate our plants and our crops so they can grow and multiply, they dance to communicate, and they make honey! It’s tragic to know that our bee populations are dwindling, but fortunately, we can provide some tools to help our favourite local pollinators right in our own gardens.
In this article we’re going to look at our fluffy striped neighbour’s favourite annual flowers you can plant in your own garden to appease the bees and how to care for them so the bees know your garden is the new hottest place to pollinate.
Let’s start with a brightly coloured favourite, cosmos! Cosmos are the flowers that look like a child’s drawing of a flower: bright coloured pink, orange, or white petals, bright yellow centre, and long green stems. If you plant cosmos in your garden, you’re going to get every pollinator stopping by to say hello. Bees, butterflies, moths, they all love cosmos. You can buy cosmos seeds here.
Cosmos love full sun and can grow to be two feet tall. They bloom in every season but winter, and when they’re planted in the ground they can reseed themselves and grow again next season. Cosmos are a great low-effort bee flower that are both beautiful and to bees, delicious.
If you prefer bushier plants to stemmy ones, zinnias are a great choice for bees. They come in many bright fun colours and will bloom until the frost comes. They typically will only grow to about 12 inches tall and grow mostly as bushes.
Like cosmos, Zinnias like full sun and will bloom in all seasons but winter. Bees, moths, butterflies, and other pollinators just cannot get enough of these cute flowers. Crocus have a good variety of Zinnias seeds you can buy here.
Life moves pretty fast, be sure to stop and smell the alyssum. Not quite the same ring as roses, bit of a mouthful. But a pleasure to the olfactory senses. They bloom as bunches of little flowers that come in blushing shades of pink and purple. Bees love Alyssum for their pollen, and humans love them for their sweet honey scent.
Alyssum likes sun and shade and only bloom in the summer. But when they bloom, no one can resist their sweet scent. They are also related to cabbage, kale, and broccoli so they are edible. Though many sources say they don’t taste nearly as good as they smell.
Make sure to water your alyssum often, they hate dry soil and will thank you by reseeding and growing forever. Buy Alyssum Seeds from Crocus.
If you’re looking to make a statement in your garden, sunflowers are a bee’s best friend. They grow to be up to six feet tall, have giant heads, and are always looking at the brightside…well they’re always facing the sun anyway.
These towering plants need full sun and bloom in the late summer and early fall. Later in the fall their heads can be harvested for seeds which you can plant if you’d like, or you can toast them and eat them until next year’s bloom.
If you plant sunflowers, you’re not only going to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, but your garden will be filled with Blue Tits, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, and many other small birds. Buy sunflower Seeds from Crocus.
These bright blue annual flowers are known for their unique colour but have so many other benefits. Painted lady butterflies are known to show up for cornflowers and they are a beautiful sight to behold.
Cornflowers need full sun and bloom in the late spring and summer. They can grow to be one or two feet tall and can actually come in pink, purple, and white, along with their iconic blue shade.
Cornflowers will bring bees to your garden, and at the end of their season, the flowers can be used to make a lovely blue dye. Many wildflower seed packs such as Beebombs include Cornflowers within their seed mix. Buy Cornflower Seeds from Crocus.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create an environment in which bees can thrive in your garden. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Bee Garden: All you need to know in one concise manual, by Elke Schwarzer. This book has great information on everything you need to plant and nurture a garden that will invite these vital pollinators in.