The Growers Choice: Plants and Trees for pollinators

The Growers Choice: Plants and Trees for pollinators

With the decline of bees and butterflies, we thought we would share some of our favourite pollinator-friendly plants and trees for spring, summer and autumn along with some tips.


  • Always grow a mixture of plants that will provide year-round interest for pollinators.
  • Try to stick to single flowers. Double or multi petalled flowers hide pollen and nectar.
  • Go organic and avoid pesticides
  • Put up nest sites and bug hotels for solitary bees.
  • Provide water for pollinators.
  • Allow lawn weeds to flower by cutting less often.

Spring plants and trees for pollinators

In a warmer spring, butterflies and bees start emerging from their autumn/winter hibernation and rely on pollen and nectar to survive. These trees and plants are pollinator-friendly for this specific season:

Helleborus (Christmas rose) – a great winter/spring addition to your shaded spot in a garden that will provide a much-needed source of pollen for bees and butterflies once they come out of hibernation.

Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ – this plant is found covered in bees during early spring. Their bright yellow flowers appear from November to March and are happiest when placed in full or partial shade.

Apple and crab apple trees – these trees rely on pollinators, without them, the trees would not bear fruit. The beautiful blossom from these varieties, such as Malus Domestica, provide a much-needed spring feast for bees.

Salix caprea (Goat/ Pussy willow) – another one that is hugely important to providing an early source of pollen for pollinators is this tree thanks to its golden catkins that come out in March. A popular variety for queen bees, and mining bees.

Crocus – Bumblebees are often seen not only collecting the pollen but sheltering inside the flower overnight.

Summer plants for pollinators

Moving into the summer season, these plant varieties are great options for pollinators to use during the warmer months of the year.

Echinacea’s (coneflower) – a great option for bees and butterflies as they pump out as much nectar in the morning as the afternoon, unlike other plant varieties.

Buddleia (butterfly bush) - the clue is in the name with this one as this really is covered in butterflies come June a great addition to a sunny border.

Lavender – an obvious (and popular) one as it has been loved by pollinators for hundreds of years. Place it in a sunny, dry and well-drained position.

Digitalis (foxgloves) – its bell-shaped flowers are very popular with bees, especially the bumblebee. Plant these in dappled shade for it to grow well.

Geraniums – this plant has a long blooming season which makes it a great addition to the garden for bees. Choose varieties such as Geranium Johnsons blue that will flower through to September.

Verbena – a plant that produces lots of nectar from July to October, they are loved by hoverflies, butterflies, bees and even dragonflies - a great addition to the middle or back of a border.

Salvias - Salvias are a real magnet to bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds with some varieties flowering from late spring through to Autumn, a great source of nectar for pollinators.

Escallonia 'Pink Elle' - Last summer our Escallonia ‘Pink Elle’ were full of butterflies from June through to August. Escallonia's not only looked great in summer but their dark glossy foliage looks great throughout the year.

Autumn plants and trees for pollinators

Moving into the colder end of the year for a change of seasons brings another round of trees and plants that are great for pollinators in the autumn.

Sedum Autumn Joy – this will flower from late summer into early autumn where they are frequently visited by butterflies and bees.

Hedera (Ivy) – this is vital in helping to aid bees in the late season with its mature plants flowering in October and November.

Anemone Honorine Jobert – an option that will not only brighten up that shaded part of your garden but a favourite of bees as it flowers from August to October.

Heptacodium miconoides – with clusters of white flowers, this tree provides a great source of pollen from September to November when other varieties have stopped flowering.

Posted 11th Mar 1:30pm