Few things are more universally beautiful or beloved than flowers. Whether you plant rose bushes, flowerbeds, lilting lilies or vibrant wildflowers, flowers can be a great way to add some style, class, and natural loveliness to your patio area. For as much as we love bright, beautiful flowers, bees are absolutely crazy about them. The bright colors are hugely attractive to the bees, who seek out the flowers for their nectar (while pollinating them in the process).
With that benefit, it makes sense why you want to attract more of them to your patio. Many folks are actively trying to save bee populations and we should all try to do our part. The easiest way for you to do that is to plant foliage that bees love and we’re here to help. So strap in, we’ve collected the best ways to attract bees to your patio.
Before I dive in to specific plant recommendations, first let’s explore a broader strategy for picking plants that bees will love.
Plant Choosing Tips
For starters, you will want to plant flowers and plants which bloom at different seasons. Not only does this help attract bees year-round, but it keeps your patio and garden area feeling fresh and floral throughout the year as well. You’ll also want to have a good idea of when the best floral seasons are. Early spring and late autumn are two of the best target seasons for bees, as they begin their first foraging in early spring and do their last harvesting before winter in late autumn.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to have flowers of different shapes and colors. Not only is that kind of aesthetic variety attractive to us, it also improves your chances of successfully attracting bees. Moreover, some bees have different sizes of tongues, so different sizes of flowers can help accommodate both bees with long and short tongues.
Things To Avoid
On the other hand, you will want to make absolutely sure that you are not using any type of insecticide, pesticide, herbicide, or similar agent on your plants. These are a surefire way to turn off or even harm and kill bees, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Pesticides can contain neonicotinoids, which are chemicals that can be especially dangerous to bees. With bee populations across the globe declining, it would behoove us all to be a bit more conscious of how these sprays affect them. Even organic pesticides can be harmful, so avoid them at all costs.
If you are purchasing new plants to plant in your patio area, make sure they haven’t been pre-treated with pesticides.
You’ll also want to avoid plant hybrids, as these tend to be less beneficial to pollinating bees.
The Best Flowers to Attract Bees To Your Patio
With all of that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the best flowers for attracting bees:
These flowers can spread quickly, making them a great choice for covering large swaths of your backyard. That said, you’ll also want to make sure that they do not grow out of control. There are many variants, and they all require full exposure to sunlight to grow. They are in bloom from early spring until fall.
These also grow in direct sunlight, although they can also make do with less sunlight than pansies. They tend to be in bloom in the early spring months. Pussy willows grow well in wetlands, and feature a lovely grey hue and soft fur-like growths along their blooms. Their early spring growth season makes them a great choice for attracting early forager bees.
This is another type of flower that grows well in partial sunlight, although it can also bloom when exposed to direct sunlight. They tend to bloom in early spring. Siberian squills burst into blue blooms and thus add a rich azure hue to your lawn and garden area for a few weeks out of the year. Like pansies, these flowers can grow quite rapidly, so be sure to keep them in check. You’ll also need to make sure that you have good drainage so as to keep their bulbs from rotting.
Not only do these lovely flowers provide nectar for bees, but they also attract beautiful monarch butterflies. They do best in lots of sunlight and bloom from summer to fall. They also come in a wide range of drought-resistant varieties, so they can be a good choice if you live in an area such as the southwest United States, where rainwater and moisture can be sparse at times.
Unlike other flowers on this list, snowdrops live up to their name by popping up during the winter months. They are therefore a great choice for attracting bees in cold climates that get a lot of snow. These flowers lie dormant in summer, so you should ideally pair them with flowers which bloom during the summer months and go dormant in winter.
Flowers like marigolds bloom and die within the same growing season. That said, marigolds can bloom all summer long if you take care of them properly. Bees aren’t the only ones who can get a nice snack from them either – their blooms are edible and can go well in salads.
Though they are sometimes considered weeds because they are able to spread so rapidly, as long as you keep them in check, goldenrods can be a nice bee-attracting addition to your garden. They bloom in summer, can make due with full or partial sun, and can be used for medicinal purposes as well.
Of all the flowers on this list, bee balms do the best in shady low-sunlight conditions. These natural North American prairie flowers bloom in summer and are a big hit with bees. They tend to do best in warm climates.
These flowers bloom from summer through the fall, keeping bees humming in your garden as the leaves turn and the seasons change. They do best when exposed to direct sunlight. Their blooms are edible, and they can add a great deal of color to your patio area.
A Word of Warning
Typically, the things that attract bees are the same thing that attracts wasps. If you’re allergic to wasps or simply don’t want to attract them to your patio, avoid planting the above foliage! We actually wrote a guide about how to keep wasps away here.
Help your garden “buzz” with activity by choosing these and other bee-friendly plants and flowers for your patio or backyard area.