Green Living

The best flowers for attracting bees

Article by Homes to Love

Gardening guru Carol Bucknell dishes the dirt on the best flowers for attracting beneficial bees to the garden in New Zealand


Why we need bees in the garden

Without honeybees both our productive and ornamental gardens would suffer enormously, not to mention commercial horticulture and farming. Bee numbers are declining throughout the world and home gardeners can do their bit to prevent this by making their properties as bee friendly as possible. Eliminating chemical sprays is key to this process. Even organic sprays such as pyrethrum should be sprayed at night as they are toxic to bees.

Bee-friendly lavender.

Bee-friendly lavender.


How can we help protect declining bee numbers?

Growing plants that provide plenty of food is important if you want to attract bees to the garden. Many modern hybrid flowering plants produce little nectar or pollen so avoid these if possible and plant old-fashioned or heirloom varieties. When you’re walking around the neighbourhood or in a park look out for bees and see what plants they are attracted to.


Try planting marigold.


What are the best flowering plants for attracting bees?

Blue and yellow flowering plants are the best plants for bees. These plants are even better if they are mass planted so bees can spend their time foraging in one area. Our native hebe is also a bee magnet as are fruit trees such as apple, pear, citrus and plum trees. Bees love herbs like borage, rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme too along with popular flowering annuals and perennials such as alyssum, catmint, cosmos, marigold and phlox.

Why it’s essential to have a water source for bees

Water is essential for the survival of bees, particularly during a hot summer like the one we have just experienced. Leave shallow bowls of water in the garden for them, making sure you refresh the water regularly. If you have a deeper pond, plant waterlilies so they have a safe landing pad to drink from.


Forget-me-knots are a great option for attracting bees.


What to plant for bees

– Hedges of rosemary or lavender in sunny areas of the garden, particularly near edible plants so the bees will pollinate your crops

– Sowing or planting borage as a companion plant in the vege garden to attract bees and to draw black fly away from other plants. Borage needs a sunny position and will tolerate sandy or poor soils as long as they are well-drained. Borage leaves make excellent liquid fertiliser.

  • Alyssum
  • Aquilegia
  • Calendula
  • Californian poppy
  • Cornflower
  • Cosmos
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove
  • Forget-me-not
  • Lobelia
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansies
  • Scabiosa
  • Sweet peas
  • Snapdragons


TOP TIP Fill pots and bare areas in as many corners of the garden as you can.

For more planting tips visit Carol’s website.

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