Many of us have designated pollinator gardens, or sections of our gardens that are more friendly to bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. But what about our container gardens? There’s a massive number of plants ideal for container gardening that also lure in those valuable pollinating friends. Remember, almost any plant that can grow in the ground can also grow happily in a container, as long as you keep the soil fed and irrigated properly. Here’s what you need to know.
Potted Plants That Entice Pollinators
Container Planting Considerations
Before you start creating your miniature habitat, make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Always use high-quality potting soil, never regular garden soil, and plan to fertilize regularly as your specific plants demand. I love to add worm castings to my potted plants at planting time — the health and growth of my plants are simply phenomenal.
- Group plants in a container that have the same growing needs in terms of sunlight and water. Drought tolerant rosemary will not thrive in a container with water-loving mint, for example.
- Water regularly — plan on once a day, but don’t be surprised when the hot weather hits if you need to water twice a day. And never let a container sit in a saucer full of water — when you’re sure the water has drained out, empty the saucer water into another container.
Flower Characteristics that Attract Pollinators
- Color: Different pollinators prefer specific flower colors. Bees gravitate towards blue, lavender, purple, white and yellow, while butterflies prefer white, pink, purple, red, yellow and orange. Want hummingbirds? Go for red, yellow, orange, pink and purple. Moths, on the other hand, love white or pale-hued nocturnal flowers.
- Shape: There is a wide range of flower shapes, from bell, tubular, brush, and flag, to bowl, bunched, lipped, compound florets, fluffy catkins and more. A pollinator-specific internet search will tell you which insect prefers which shape.
- Scent: Highly scented plants let pollinators know they are open for business. Butterflies tend to be more attracted to color and scent rather than the fragrance, however, because they have less sensitive olfactory senses.
Pollinating Plants by Category
- Bronze fennel
- Purple coneflower
- Butterfly bush
- Bee balm
- Black-eyed Susan
- Patio-sized tomatoes
- Beans (on a trellis or “teepee” structure w/poles)
- Bachelor’s buttons