Here in Northern California the almond blossoms are in full bloom. it won’t be long before other nut and fruit trees follow. Bulbs planted last fall have poked through the soil and are getting ready to bloom, some have already done so. Spring is my favorite time of the year. Spring came early this year, while the rains came late. In other parts of the country spring is just around the corner and now is the time to think about your vegetable garden.
There are a few things you need to think about before planting any flower that attracts the good guys. Don’t use pesticides, use local native plants if you can, plant flowers in groups, plant near the vegetable garden, or in the garden where you want to attract bees, and include flowers of different shapes and sizes.
Many flowers are edible as well bee attractors, so include some of these as well. Single petal blossoms attract the bees the most because there is more pollen and nectar than the double blossoms. Blue, purple and yellow flowers seem most appealing to beans. Flat or shallow blossoms attract more variety of bees.
Long-tongued bees like flowers with hidden nectar. I’m also including herbs that have bee attracting flowers.
Alyssum – Annual. Covered with white flowers.
Aster – is an annual that comes in a variety of colors and petal shapes. It also makes a great cutting flower.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) – Annual. These come in many shapes and sizes. In colors from bright yellow-orange to dark rust to burgundy.
Coneflower (Echinacea) – Annual Like mini-carnations they are fragrant and cheerful. They come in shades of blue, pink white, and burgundy.
Lavender – Perennial. Famous for its fragrance. Lavender colored blossoms. This is also grown as an herb.
Lupine – Annual. Diminutive plants with flower spikes barely exceeding a foot tall. Dark blue, medium-pale blues, lavender, pinks, rose and white flowers. Bees love the mildly fragrant blooms.
Sunflower – Annual. The variety Red Sun (photo courtesy Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, RareSeeds.com) is covered with dozens of ornamental blooms, red to red-orange single flowers and highlighted with a hint of yellow around the centers attract bees and butterflies.
Verbena – Tender perennial. Clusters of 2-inch heads packed with tiny purple flowers.
Zinnia – An annual that comes in all colors, sizes and are easy to grow.
All herb photos are courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Johnnyseeds.com.
Angelica – Biennial. Large, numerous greenish blooms attract and feed beneficial insects and pollinators.
Anise Hyssop – This is a tender perennial that is very aromatic, with a sweet, licorice-mint flavor. Lavender flowers.
Basil – An annual herb with blue flowers.
Bee Balm (Bergamot) – Annual with spicy scented bright lavender blooms.
Borage – Annual with edible flower that has mild cucumber flavor. Mostly cornflower blue star-shaped flowers.
Hyssop – Perennial. This is regular hyssop that is a great plant for attracting bees. It is in the mint family and has bright blue-violet flowers.
Marjoram – Perennial. If you plant wild marjoram the blooms are in shades of pink to purple.
Rosemary – Tender perennial. Has needle-like foliage and delicate flowers that range from light to dark blue in color.
Sage – Perennial. Lovely, small lavender flowers appear in early summer. White sage is what Native Americans use to make smudge sticks. Good bee attractor.