Green Spaces

Plants for Pollinators

Plants for PollinatorsYou may have heard a lot of talk about pollinators lately. So, why the renewed interest in bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds?

Ginny Rosenkranz of the University of Maryland Extension said at a UMB Go Green-sponsored sustainability workshop on April 4, “They’re important for plants and flowers. Their quality of life benefits our quality of life.”

According to the Pollinator Partnership, “Worldwide, roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend. Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, potatoes, pumpkins, vanilla, and almonds.”

In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually (Pollinator Partnership).

To attract pollinators and help them to thrive, there are a many plants you can cultivate in your garden.

For those interested in planting a garden to attract local pollinators, Rosenkranz recommends:

  • Planting in groups of three.
  • Protecting the garden from wind, especially in the city.
  • Having food sources, such as dill, parsley, and fennel, for catepillars so they can turn into butterfly/moth pollinators.
  • Maintaining a water source such as a birdbath.

Some plants good for pollination include moss pinks, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susans, and perennial sunflowers. For a full list of pollinator plants and their needs, see below.

“Whether you have a shade or sun garden, you still can have pollinators and beautiful flowers,” Rosenkranz says.





Phlox subulata

Moss Pinks

Full sun

Good drainage  

Ajuga reptans

Bugleweed Shade    

Arabis caucasica

Rock Wall Cress

Full sun


Aurinia saxatilis

Basket of Gold

Full sun

Good air circulation


Bergenia corifolia

Heart Leaf Bergengia


If you rub the leaves together, makes a pig noise

Armeria maritima

Sea Pink

Full sun

Extra drainage


Aquilegia canadensis


Moderate shade

Moist drained soils


Dicentra eximia

Fringed Bleeding Hearts

Moderate shade


Iberis sempervirens


Full sun

Well-drained soil

Very fragrant

Phlox divaricata

Woodland Phlox


Thrives in woodland area with deciduous trees

Penstemon digitalis

Beard tongue


Landing pad for bees; color on pad like a runway for pollinators

Centranthus ruber

Red Valerian


Well-drained soil

Likes lime

Paeonia lactiflora


Full sun with afternoon shade


Likes to live in the North; has sugar so attract ants, which provide good pest control; petals best for pollinators

Baptisia australis

False Indigo

Full sun

Well-drained soil


Centaurea montana

Bachelor’s Button


Only lasts two weeks

Salvia nemorosa

May Night

Full sun

Well-drained soil

Best planted at the edge of your garden

Coreopsis lanceolata

Tickseed Coreopsis

Full sun

Really dry soil


Dianthus plumaris

Cottage Pinks

Full sun

Well-drained soil

Scent of cloves

Veronicastrum virginicum

Culvers Root


Moist soil

Takes over garden

Campanula persicifolia

Peach Leaf

Full sun

Moist soil

Tiny bell petals easy for pollinators

Labium maculatum

Spottled Dead Nettle


Hreat in containers

Cerastium tomentosum

Snow in Summer


Goliage gray and fuzzy

Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

Full sun

Really drained soil

Milkweed family

Coreopsis verticillata

Thread Leaf Coreopsis


Echinacea purpurea

Purple Cone Flower


Heliopsis helianthoides

Oxeye Daisy


Achillea filipendulina

Fernleaf Yellow

Full sun

Well-drained soil


Agastache foeniculum

Anise Hyssop


Physostegia virginiana

Obedient Plant


Great for pollinators, but spreads




Deer love

Rudbeckia fulgida

Black-Eyed Susan


Look for Indian summer

Asclepias incarnate

Swamp Milkweed


Astilbe chinensis

Astilbe Shade

Moist soil


Monarda didyma

Bee Balm


Monarda fistulosa

Wild Bergamot


Moist soil

Susceptible to powdery mildew

Chrysanthemum superbum

Shasta Daisy

Full sun


Repot every three to five years or add new compost to soil

Caryopteria clandonensis

Blue Mist Shrub


Consistent moisture


Echinops sphaerocephalus

Globe Thistle


Eupatorium dubium

Joe Pye Weed

Full sun

Moist soil


Hibiscus moscheutos



There are two types, one of which is native to Maryland

Lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal Flower


Aster novae angliae

New England Aster

Full sun


Goes to seed; can take over garden

Phlox paniculata

Summer Phlox


Aster novi belgii

Michaelmas Daisy

Full sun

Even moisture

Drought resistant

Vernonia noveboracensis

Iron Weed


Chelone glabra

Turtle Head


Helianthus salicifolius

Perennial Sunflower

Full sun

Dry soil


Solidago rugosa


Full sun


Solidago rugosa

Golden Fleece

Full fun


Also known as goldenrod

Eupatorium coelestinum

Hardy Blue Ageratum


Moist soil

Can become a pest


Coral Bells


Slight moisture

Blooms in spring and fall

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