No Comments

The Best Annuals For Butterflies, Bees & Other Pollinators

With temps to high 10C today I’m getting excited about spring and my flower garden. Recently I posted about perennials, here is a list of annuals. Go to Davy Russell’s site for illustrations by Davy Russell. I hope you enjoy them!

by Davy Russell Leave a Comment

While native perennial flowers are the foundation of my pollinator garden, annuals add pizzazz and lots more pollen and nectar sources to draw more butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to your garden.

These are the top-performing annuals in my zone 5 pollinator garden.

1 – Cosmos


Cosmos rank #1 in my garden for attracting a wide variety of butterflies and bees. Plus, I love the feathery foliage. Cosmos come in shades of pink, as well as white and orange.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 24″.
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles.


Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles) on CosmosHalictid bee (Agapostemon virescens) on Cosmos.

2 – Zinnia

I LOVE zinnias because they send up a profusion of blooms all season long until frost ends the show. There are a lot of Zinnia varieties, but the ones that performed the best in my garden so far have been the Profusion series and State Fair.

Profusion zinnias send up, well, a profusion of blossoms, making easy (and highly visible) masses of color that last all season. Mine never exceeded 12 inches in height and bushed out, so they are great for front of the garden.

State Fair gets tall – about two feet, and are perfect for middle of the garden.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 24″.
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles.

Peck's Skipper (Polites pekius) on Profusion Zinnia. “Peck’s Skipper (Polites pekius) on Profusion Zinnia.”


Profusion Zinnia.Fritillary sp. on Profusion Zinnia



 Profusion Zinnia.Longhorn Beetle (Euderces picipes) on Profusion Zinnia.“Longhorn Beetle (Euderces picipes) on Profusion Zinnia.”

3 – AlyssumAlyssum “These low-growing masses of honey-scented white blossoms are a pollinator magnet! They are an excellent border plant in a pollinator garden.

Light: Full sun to part shade.
Height: Up to 10″.
Bloom Time: Summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles.

Syrphid Fly (Toxomerus marginatus) on Alyssum.“Syrphid Fly (Toxomerus marginatus) on Alyssum.

4 – SunflowersSunflowersIt doesn’t get better than sunflowers when it comes to attracting pollinators and other wildlife. With tall plants and giant blossoms, sunflowers are highly visible and irresistible to butterflies, bees, and all sorts of pollinators. As an added bonus, the seed heads attract chickadees, gold finches, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers after the blossoms have been spent.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 6+’.
Bloom Time: Late summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles.

 – PetuniaPetuniaPetunias look great in hanging baskets as they send out cascades of trumpet-shaped blossoms all season long (as long as you deadhead them regularly).

You can also put them in large clumps at the front of the garden, or in window boxes.

Light: Full sun to part shade.
Height: Up to 12″, but may spread out.
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, bees, bee flies. Hummingbirds may also visit.

Petunias are popular with beesPetunias are popular with bees” “aligncenter”



6 – Lantana

LantanaLantana adds a splash of deep red, orange, and yellow in your garden. These drought-resistant, hot-weather plants are the perfect additions to your summer garden.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 36″.
Bloom Time: Summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, and syrphid flies.

Lantana with fritillary butterfly.Lantana with fritillary butterfly.”


7 – Annual Daises

DaisiesAnnual daisies draw in pollinators of all types thanks to their big, showy blossoms.

Gerber daisies are the most common ones found in garden stores. I planted Arican Daisies in 2015 and loved them. They brought in bees and butterflies. The blossoms close up at night and on cloudy days, only opening when they are bathed in full sun.

Another daisy I planted in 2015 was Butterfly Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutenscens), which is pictured above. It was constantly covered in interesting insects including moths and beetles.

Osteospermum (also called African or Cape Daisies) are a big hit with bees and butterflies. They also tolerate cooler, early spring weather, taking a break during the hottest part of summer before giving an encore of blooms in the fall.

Light: Full sun (some varieties tolerate part-sun).
Height: Depends on variety and can range between 12″ and 36″.
Bloom Time: Summer/Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, beetles, and syrphid flies.

Red Admiral butterfly on African Daisy.Red Admiral butterfly on African Daisy.”

8 – Pansies

Pansies are great very early-season annuals that will provide a nectar source to bees and other pollinators emerging from hibernation in the spring.

Light: Full sun/part sun.
Height: About 8″.
Bloom Time: Spring/Early summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees.

Pansy with pollinator.Some of the tiniest pollinators visit pansies.

9 – Ageratum (Floss Flower)

AgeratumAgeratum, also known as “floss flower”, is another blue flower that is supposed to attract pollinators. I pretty much only saw tumbling flower beetles on mine.

Light: Full sun/part shade.
Height: 6″.
Bloom Time: Summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, beetles, bees.

Banded Longhorn beetle (Typocerus velutinus) on AgeratumBanded Longhorn beetle (Typocerus velutinus) on Ageratum.

 10 – Lobelia erinus

Lobelia erinusI’m a sucker for blue flowers, so when I saw lobelia erinus in the garden center, I couldn’t resist. Plus, the tag said they attracted butterflies.

While they looked great in my garden, I didn’t really see any activity to them all season except for a few brief visits by a bee fly.

Light: Full sun/part shade.
Height: 8″.
Bloom Time: Spring-Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bee flies, bees.

  11 – Pentas

PentasI love the look of Pentas (also known as “Star Flower” because of their star-shaped blossoms). I have also read that they are pollinator magnets, particularly attractive to butterflies.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see hardly any activity on the pink and red ones that I planted in my pollinator garden. Rain storms also knocked the blossoms off, and they never looked as good all season long as they did when I first planted them.

Nevertheless, I’ve heard great things about them and they are worth a try in your own garden.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 15″.
Bloom Time: Summer.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees.

 12 – Calendula

Also known as “pot marigold”, Calendula is notorious as a bee magnate.

I haven’t grown Calendula in my garden yet, but I have seeds starting right now and plan to enjoy them in 2016.

13 – Lavender

Not only does lavender smell heavenly, it’s a bee and butterfly magnet. I haven’t grown this one either yet, but plan to in 2016.

14 – Borage

I have never planted borage before, but I plan to for the 2016 season. Borage is a rich nectar source for bees, and it’s one of the favorite flowers for bumblebees. Borage is an edible herb, and can be added to salads.

No Comments

SPRING Equinox – It’s on your door step

Spring – Tuesday March 20 2018 at 12:15 pm
On the vernal equinox, day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. See First Day of Spring page.

Published: March 20, 2017

The birds sing,
Bugs cling,
Butterflies flutter,
Water drips from a gutter.

A beautiful day,
Here I stay,
Bathing in the sun,
I start to hum.

Making a song
With spring,
The grass clings
To me.

I stand up,
Brush myself off
And cough.
My eyes caught the beauty of spring.


No Comments

Start Planning now for Spring Planting

With the Spring Equinox nearing, planning now will give you the joy you desire not just this season but the beautiful perennial flower bed will be with you for years to come.

Planting perennial flowers means that they’ll be a food source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators for years. Here are some great pics for your flower beds.


There are many, many varieties of aster to choose from. The star-shaped flowers come in purples, pinks, and whites and often bloom in the fall, making it a great nectar source when many springtime flowers have stopped blooming.

Cranesbill Geranium

This is not the neon-bright geranium your grandma used to grow. Cranesbill geraniums are delicate looking, low-growing perennial flowers that attract bees with their pink and purple blooms.


Also known as coneflower, you might be more familiar with Echinacea as a health supplement. Turns out, that supplement is made from this plant that sports gorgeous pink flowers that attract bees.


You know it for its fragrance; bees love it for the flowers. The flowers differ in shape from variety to variety, but all are attractive to honey bees. Lavender is also considered a culinary herb and can be used to flavour some of your kitchen creations.


While humans are generally more interested in the leaves of mint, the flowers are desirable to bees.

Mint can be invasive, though — be sure to plant it in an area where it can run rampant or in a pot where it will remain contained.


Commonly known as Bee Balm, Monarda is a member of the mint family. In addition to attracting pollinators to your garden, Monarda can be used to flavor drinks and is used medicinally. There are both annual and perennial varieties of bee balm and many different types of flowers that attract bees.


There are both annual and perennial varieties of salvia. They’re all great for attracting bees, but if you choose a perennial variety you’ll enjoy the benefits for many seasons.


This low growing perennial attracts pollinators with purple or pink flowers that seem to float above the leaves on long stems. They’re a great cut flower, too — just be sure to leave some for the bees and butterflies.


You know this as a go-to herb in your spice cupboard, but the small flowers on thyme are very attractive to bees. Thyme grows low; try the variety “Mother of Thyme” for a great ground cover that will make the bees happy and be useful to you as well. Basil is another herb that really attracts bees. 


Buckwheat is not a perennial; in fact, it’s a very fast to bloom annual that’s kaput in just a couple of months. But if you want to attract bees to your yard in a hurry, it is highly recommended that you add it to your repertoire.

NEXT: annuals that please – watch for it – Denis P. (519) 577-8181,

No Comments

What’s all the BZZZZZ about?

Kitchener the 7th Bee City in Ontario committed to providing a healthy environment for people and pollinators!

And with Spring just around the corner, is it time to think spring, the birds and the bees?

Some exciting initiatives are taking place in Kitchener, including a 2018 project at Huron Natural Area that will see eight hectares of meadow habitat restored and enhanced with plantings of forbs, grasses and shrubs to support native pollinators