Gardeners have become keenly aware of the relationship between plants and beneficial insects. Gone are the days when gardeners mobilized an arsenal of pesticides to keep bugs at bay. Gardeners are now more likely to choose plants that will actually attract insects – not only pollinators, but also beneficial insects that prey upon damaging insect pests.

Although bees (native bees as well as the introduced European honeybee) are the primary category of pollinating insects, many species of wasps, flies, butterflies, and beetles also perform the important job of pollinating the crops that provide our food. Beyond the economic benefits of pollinators, gardeners are eager to restore balance to the environment by creating a more natural environment that is also attractive and soothing to the senses.

Fortunately, there are many varieties of garden perennials that will provide food for pollinators, in the form of nectar and pollen, while beautifying the gardener’s landscape. This list of perennials, composed of both native and non-native plants, will attract a wide variety of pollinating insects:

  • Agastache – anise hyssop
  • Allium – ornamental onion
  • Anemone – anemone and windflower
  • Asclepias – milkweeds of all kinds
  • Buddleia – butterfly bush
  • Chelone – turtlehead
  • Coreopsis – tickseed
  • Echinacea – purple coneflower
  • Eupatorium – joe-pye weed
  • Helianthus – sunflower
  • Heliopsis – false sunflower
  • Lavandula – lavender
  • Liatris – gayfeather
  • Nepeta – catmint
  • Monarda – beebalm
  • Perovskia – Russian sage
  • Persicaria – knotweed
  • Pycnanthemum – mountain mint
  • Rudbeckia – black-eyed susan
  • Salvia – sages of all kinds
  • Sedum – stonecrop
  • Solidago – goldenrod
  • Symphyotrichum – aster
  • Veronica – speedwell
  • Zizia – golden alexanders