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Attracting Pollinators

Pretty Pollinators

In the flowering plant life cycle, pollinators play a crucial role in their success. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, flies and wasps are some of the important pollinators. Sadly, the population of these pollinators is declining quickly with the use of chemicals, diseases, pollution and diminishing open space. Gardeners can have a positive influence by planting plants that will help these pollinators flourish.

What is Pollination?

The process by which plant pollen is transferred from the male reproductive organs to the female reproductive organs to form seeds. In flowering plants, pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma, often by the wind or by insects. In cone-bearing plants, male cones release pollen that is usually borne by the wind to the ovules of female cones.

Some plants can self-pollinate, others must cross-pollinate such shown in this illustration.



What can you do for Pollinators?

Be sure your garden has these 3 elements: water, shelter and food.

Plant a garden using Native flowering plants: 

  • ♦ Native plants have co-evolved with pollinator species, and are well adapted to the climate, soil and growing season. It’s okay to plant non-native plants as long as they are not invasive.

♦ Provide a variety of flower shapes and colors since different pollinators are attracted to different types of flowers.

Plant Single Bloom Varieties:

Pollinators can get pollen from single bloom flowers much more easily because their nectaries are exposed. Petals of double bloom varieties often block the flower’s nectary, making it difficult to navigate.

 Provide shelter for nesting and egg-laying, such as:

  • ♦ Dead trees or limbs to create nesting habitat for bees
  • ♦ Tall grasses, shrubs and low growing plants
  • ♦ Minimize Manicuring : let a hedge grow or part of your lawn grow wild for ground-nesting bees (dandelions provide essential nutrients in the early Spring!)
  • ♦ Patches of fallen branches or small patches of bare ground

♦ Artificial nesting boxes can also help increase the population of pollinators in your area. Nesting boxes can be purchased at many garden centres.

Provide food and water

  • ♦ A pollinator garden will provide pollen and nectar. Consider adding special feeders to help attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • ♦ Plan ahead: Pollinators require a constant source of food from when they emerge in the Spring, right through the Fall. Be sure to have a continuing sequence of flowers in bloom to provide pollen throughout the growing season.
  • ♦ Butterflies require specific host plants to lay their eggs so that their caterpillars can feed on them once they emerge. For example, monarch butterflies require milkweed to feed on in the early stages. Once the caterpillars  become butterflies, they feed on all nectar and pollen sources.

♦ Plant in clumps rather than single plants to better attract  the pollinators. Bees tend to collect pollen from one type of plant at a time.

  • Pollinators locate food sources by sight and scent

Not all pollinators see colour the same as we do, like honey bees for example. You can help them by choosing flowers that have white, yellow, blue or purple flowers. This will help them spot resources in your garden more easily! Pollinators will also go crazy for aromatic flowers, such as lavender and all the herbs known!

Avoid using pesticides. Go organic!

♦ If you must use a pesticide, choose one that is the least toxic to non-pest species, does not persist on the leaves, and apply it in the evening or early morning when most pollinators are not active.

Our Statement

Statement for Pollinators Final

Below is a list of plants that attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies and Bees to your yard:

List of plants for pollinators
Plants that attract butterflies

  • Alyssum
  • Achilea (Yarrow)
  • Alcea (Hollyhock)
  • Aster
  • Buddleia (Butterfly bush)
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s lace)
  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus (Pinks)
  • Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflower)
  • Echinops (Globe Thistle)
  • Foeniculum (Fennel)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
  • Lavandula (Lavender)
  • Leucantenum (Shasta Daisy)
  • Liatris (Liatris)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Origanum vulgare (Oregano)
  • Phlox
  • Salvia officinalis (Sage)
  • Scabiosa (Pincushion flower)
  • Sedum spectabile (Stonecrop)


Plants that attract butterfly larvae (Caterpillars)

  • Star Flower (Borage)
  • Fennel
  • Grasses
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea)
  • Lupine
  • Milkweed (Asclepias)
  • Nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Thistle
  • Willow (Salix)
  • Morus  (Mulberry)
Plants that attract hummingbirds

  • Abelia (Glossy Abelia)
  • Ajuga (Bugleweed)
  • Alcea (Hollyhocks)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
  • Cleome
  • Delphinium
  • Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells)
  • Iris
  • Liatris
  • Lily
  • Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
  • Lupine
  • Monarda
  • Penstemon
  • Phlox
  • Salvia Officinalis (Sage)
  • Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)


Plants that attract bees

  • Aquilegia
  • Agastache foeniculum (Giant hyssop)
  • Aster
  • Borage (Starflower)
  • Coreopsis
  • Convallaria
  • Cleome (Bee plant)
  • Crabapples
  • Dogwood (Flowering and fragrant species)
  • Echinops (Globe Thistle)
  • Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
  • Geranium
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
  • Hyssop
  • Iris
  • Japanese Cherry (Kwanzan)
  • Lavandula (Lavender)
  • Liatris
  • Lilac
  • Linum usitatissimum (Flax)
  • Lupinus perennis (Lupine)
  • Mentha (Mint)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Monarda didyma (Bergamot)
  • Papaver (Poppy)
  • Perovskia
  • Philadelphus
  • Primula
  • Rosa canina (Wild Rose)
  • Rhododendron
  • Salvia officinalis (Sage)
  • Sedum
  • Thymus (Thyme)
  • Veronica
  • Verbascum thapsus (Mullein)
  • Verbena

Our Program


Bees NEW-horzKits include region specific wildflowers! National advertising for Canadian Wildlife Federation will start in May 2016.