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The Best Plants To Attract Pollinators

Updated on June 23, 2015

I have had an allotment for almost a month now, I've never had one before and boy, am I struggling! I expected it to look lovely overnight but I'm battling the weeds still and I'm not winning.

You see, with anything, you only get out of it what you put in and myself, being very academic, have spent more time analysing and researching than actually working on the allotment.

Nonetheless, this academic nature of mine has allowed me to be able to share with you several plants I will be planting to attract pollinators. Mainly bees.

We will start with the wild flowers, the weeds in other words, because, well, they were here first. Then we will move onto what you can grow yourself.

Remember; one man's weed is another man's treasure.

So, why is pollination so important?

This is pretty elementary stuff to most gardeners but important nonetheless. You may, I mean - it's never a question of permission but, you may skip ahead if you feel you know what you need to here.

Pollination is important because without it, plants can't reproduce and make seeds. Bees (and other pollinators) are the only way plants can have sex. Literally. However, some plants can self-pollinate, such as a lot of fruit trees, others pollinate via the wind, but we will leave these alone for today.

The science behind pollination is all in the flowers, if you look at the image below, you will get an understanding of how it works. The pollen is deposited on the stigmata which then fertilises the "eggs" (seeds).

Pollen looks like yellow or gold dust, usually found on the petals and on little stems inside the flower. You can see it on almost every flower!
Pollen looks like yellow or gold dust, usually found on the petals and on little stems inside the flower. You can see it on almost every flower! | Source

If you'd like to follow my progress with the allotment,


Wild Flowers

Ajuga reptans / bugle - Blue snowdrop like flowers on tall, straight, dark stems.

Geranium robertianum / herb robert - Pink star like flowers with individual petals and two pale veins running down the length of each petal at either sides of the petal..

Papaver rhoeas / common poppy - This is an iconic wildflower, very well known. They are red and often worn on Rememberance Sunday. The white poppy (papaver somniferum) are also good pollinators, although you may want to double check the legality of cultivating the white poppy in your country/state.


Garden Flowers

Clematis cirrhosa / Spanish traveller’s joy - Clematis are one of my favourite types of plant, this one in particular is very good at attracting bees for is large flower and attractive colours which look like the most popular runway at Heathrow for an aeroplane.

Erica carnea / alpine heath - This plant always reminds me of something you'd see in a coral reef, only not as sharp. It is typically purple, resembling a similar shape to lavender. It can also be found in yellow varieties as well as other colours.

Cuphea ignea / cigar flower - Aptly named for it's long, tubular flowers which, when a bee is poking it's furry brown rear out of it, looks like a cigar. I've never seen one with my own eyes, unfortunately, but I'd be interested in trying to grow them myself on my allotment.

There are absolutely thousands of fantastic plants which attract bees! Fox glove is one of my favourites.

However, we shouldn't just rely on bees as pollinators, almost every insect pollinates our flowers and bees, like every living thing, has taste. Some things, it will steer clear of so it's worth having a large variety of plants to suit every insect.

Insects are SO important for your garden, some are amazing pest control and others help your plants in other ways, some are just pests.

But when these harmless and useful insects desecrate the soil near your plants, they will effectively be turning the pests they've eaten into nutrients for the soil too.

On top of this, we should always consider some sacrificial border plants, for the pests who may get past the good insects and plant defences, this will hopefully prevent them (by means of filling them up) from nibbling the bounty of beauty in the middle which you want to keep healthy.

Some people on my allotment build Bug Hotels, a brilliant video on that can be found below:


I would really recommend buying an allotment if you do not have a garden and using the above named flowers, bordered around your garden or plot to attract the pollinators which will in turn help your plants to grow seed meaning more flowers, more crops.


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