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Our Favorite Perennials for Pollinators

Rooted: Thoughts, Stories, and How-Tos from Brawley Seed Co.

"Come back" Plants Perfect for Supporting Butterflies, Bees, and Hummingbirds.

Continuing our celebration of Pollinator Week, here are our favorite perennials, or plants that come back year after year, to boost pollinators presence in your landscape. Did you know that without pollinators, many of your favorite fruits and vegetables would be unable to be productive? This is why having a garden that supports this type of wildlife is important, especially for home vegetable gardeners.

While this was a hard list to come up with because there are so many fantastic perennials that pollinators adore, we have managed to come up with our absolute favorites for your perennial garden. Even devoting a small space or container to hosting some of these plants will go a long way in bringing our buzz-worthy friends to your greenspace.

Top 6 Perennials for Creating a Pollinator Friendly Landscape

Coneflowers: Before all the storms moved in this week, we spent several evenings watching butterflies and bees work the blooms in our coneflower bed. With so many color options, if you have a sunny spot, it would be hard not to find a coneflower to fit your design needs. You can enjoy coneflowers June though August. Bonus: Birds also love coneflowers for their seed production in the fall.

Monarda: Commonly referred to as "bee balm" its no wonder that this plant is a favorite of bees. Nectar rich, these jewel-toned beauties will enjoy full to part sun in your garden, and will bloom all summer long. Dead heading spent blooms will go a long way in ensuring your plant puts on tons of color to draw in our pollinator friends. Pro-tip: Bee Balm is especially susceptible to powdery mildew in our southern climate, treat with an organic fungicide such as liquid copper to keep this plant healthy and looking its best.

Agastache: If you have one plant in your sunny perennial garden to bring in pollinators, we hope it's this one. Nicknamed "hummingbird mint" this plant showcases fragrant, brightly colored blooms summer through fall. Thanks to its minty scent, agastache is highly resistant to garden pests such as deer and rabbits. Favorite varieties include: 'Blue Boa', 'Kudos Coral', 'Kudos Ambrosia', 'Poquito Butter Yellow' and 'Rosie Posie'.

Nepeta: Bright blue blooms adorn silvery foliage April through October on this show stopping perennial. Also a member of the mint family, nepeta is sometimes referred to as catmint and has been used medicinally for ages. Although not native, this perennial is extremely beneficial in attracting native bees as well as honeybees to your space. Tips on growing: cut back nepeta to create a bushier habit and remove spent blooms to keep your plant colorful through the fall growing season.

Allium: What we consider to be one of the most unique plants on the list, allium is a "must-have" for a perennial pollinator garden. Bright purple ball-shaped blooms shine like a beacon to bees, these plants range in various sizes but one of our personal favorites is 'Millenium' noted for it's late season bloom period, this plant features deep green, glossy leaves with loads of rosy purple blooms. At 10-15 inches tall and wide, consider this plant for a border in a garden or planted on its own. As a member of the onion family, allium is resistant to deer and rabbit damage. Pro-tip: Some varieties come in bulb-form to be planted in fall for spring blooms while hybrid varieties such as 'Millenium' are available in plant form.

Salvia: This plant family deserves a spot on BOTH lists of top plants for pollinators. While not all salvias are perennial here in the NC Piedmont region, there are several varieties that are sure to come back year after year creating a welcoming space for bees, butterflies, and especially the hummingbirds. One of our favorite weekend activities is watching hummingbirds fight over the nectar in sweet salvia blooms. Our favorite variety is 'Black and Blue' Salvia, which gets its name from nearly black buds that develop into bright blue blooms. Be sure to give this plant plenty of space to grow as it can grow up to 5 feet tall and wide.

Honorable mentions: Aster & Goldenrod. We had to put theses two fall beauties on this list because they play a very special role in keeping our pollinator friends well fed and happy. Consider adding them to your perennial pollinator garden as a late food supply that especially supports monarchs. Design tip: You'll love the bright purples of asters mixed with the textured weeping blooms of goldenrod to usher in the autumn season.

Other honorable mentions: yarrow, 'Miss Huff' lantana, goldenrod, stonecrop sedum, and penstemon.

We hope you consider adding more pollinator friendly perennials to your landscape this year and as always, life's a garden, dig it!

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