When I think of what plants to add to the pollinator garden in my yard, I often turn to herbs. Herbs grow well for me and I maintain a large collection of containers growing many different herbs. Honestly, until recently, I was only growing them to feed our livestock. The chickens love fresh herbs and our pet rabbits go crazy over a fresh herbal salad of mixed herbs straight from the garden.
A few year ago, we began keeping bee hives on the farm. Through times of trial and error, I noticed that the bees loved visiting the small garden plot that we have on the farm property, too. Adding herbs to this garden required some rearranging, but this year, I plan to add many more growing herbs. Here are a few plants to add to the pollinator garden. All of these are herbs I have had much success growing in containers. Except for Yarrow. So far success with Yarrow has eluded me. Try try again! I feel that if I can grow basil, and oregano, mint, and garlic, I should be able to have a thriving herb garden on the farm, too.
What Plants to Add to the Pollinator Garden
Did you know that when you add herbs to the pollinator garden it helps the bees thrive? Often we think that bees like the big showy cut flower gardens. Bees actually thrive quite nicely on herbs, wildflowers and the blooms from trees, such as the poplar tree.
Herbs make a great choice for bees because they continuously cycle through the flowering stage. Chives will bloom, then seed the soil, and then grow to bloom again. Mint yields plenty of blossoms too and the bees love my potted oregano when it blooms.
6 Herbs to Choose for a Pollinator Garden
Consider the following list of herbs as you decide which plants to add to the pollinator garden this year.
Bee Balm– As the name implies, Bee Balm is one of the best plants to add to the pollinator garden. The pretty pink and red blooms are the favorite of hummingbirds too. Bees, Lacewings, and other pollinators will flock to an herb garden with Bee Balm in it. A common name for Bee Balm is Bergamot. Bee Balm loves the sun, so give it a sunny location in your garden or on your deck. Make sure the plant has good drainage and keep it moist, but not soggy. This plant can grow two foot or higher so plant it towards the back of a flower bed or it may block the sun of lower growing plants.
Bee Balm is great for health use also. A tea made from Bee Balm is thought to reduce cold symptoms, and soothe upset stomachs. Bee Balm also has diuretic and antibiotic properties that can contribute to good health.
Borage – The star shaped, blue or purple flowers are beautiful to the pollinators and to us! Sometimes it is called star flower because of the shape of the bloom. In any case, it is a good attractant for butterflies and bees. Borage self seeds and is direct sown in the garden. If you use the flowers in a salad you might note the zesty, cucumber like flavor. The plant has some medicinal properties and is used to soothe skin ailments. This is another tall growing herb, so like Bee Balm, plant where it won’t overshadow near by plants.
More Than Just a Pretty Flower
Comfrey – The flowers of the Comfrey plant are bell shaped and purple in color. The nectar is savored by the pollinators and beneficial insects in the garden. Not only is Comfrey a good food for the bees, it also nourishes the soil when used as a mulch. Comfrey is also called “bone knit” because when used as a poultice, it can help soft tissue injuries and bone fractures heal quicker. Studies have shown that extremely high doses of Comfrey can lead to toxicity and affect the liver. Use a Comfrey salve, occasionally, for a few days at a time to avoid the toxicity issue. Always check with a health care provider if you have concerns about treating with any herbal remedy.
Most of These Pollinator Attracting Herbs are Quite Tall!
Lovage – Lovage is often grown as an alternative to celery. The young leaves can be used in salads. The flowers from the Lovage plant are greenish yellow. The large leaf foliage provides shelter for the pollinator species. Lovage loves full sun but can tolerate some shade. The plant is rich in vitamins B and C. Growing to almost four foot tall, Lovage is another herb that belongs along the back row of the garden.
Roman Chamomile – This is the herb with the tiny daisy -like blossoms. Chamomile is known to be soothing when used as a tea or added to a lotion. It also is great for a pollinator garden.
Yarrow – Yarrow is thought to be one of the best pollinator attractants. A side benefit is that garden pests seem to not like the scent of Yarrow. For that reason, it’s good to plant among the vegetable garden to repel damaging insects. The lacy looking plant has yellow or white crowns of flowers. As long as you are not pregnant, Yarrow can offer many health benefits. It has been shown to reduce fever, and soothe skin. It is an astringent also reduces swelling in wounds.
Using Herbs in a Suburban Micro- Farm or a Large Homestead Garden
One source I used in determining my garden full of plants to add to the pollinator garden is a newly released book by Amy Stross. You can read more about these plants to add to the pollinator garden and other facts and tips for growing herbs in the book. Amy not only manages a small, thriving eco-friendly plot of land, she blogs about it on Tenth Acre Farm. Her book, The Suburban Mico-Farm was released previously, only it was in black and white. You can see my earlier review of the first edition here. Still awesome information, even without the full color photographs. The newly released edition is now available, and you can put it on your Amazon wish list , or purchase it here. I often turn to Amy with gardening questions, and her advice has been the best.