Bee-freindly flowers to plant in Spring
Bee-freindly flowers to plant in Spring
In Spring honeybees are starting to emerge, gathering nectar and pollen to take back to the hive to feed their brood. April is the perfect time to spring your gardens back into life, with the winning combination of sunshine and showers.
Bees love flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen. However, they also want flowers where they can easily reach the pollen and nectar, in other words ‘wide mouthed’ flowers like sunflower and foxglove.
Our bee-friendly British wildflower seeds contain 26 native British wildflower species, consisting of mainly perennial species, and a handful of annual and biennial species to create a permanent area of pure wildflowers. The species included in the mixture create an attractive display from May to October and is suitable for creating habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.
Hardy annuals – they thrive outdoors and tolerate cooler temperatures while adding colour anad texture to your garden
- Borage: great plant for short tongued bumblebees and honeybees, an easy to grow annual that flowers for months and is very rich in sweet nectar. The petals can also be used to make salads more beautiful.
- Corn cockle: this is a lovely summer-flowering annual which has grey-green leaves and large magenta flowers. It is easy to grow and best suited for growing as a border filler. It can be sown in situ in early spring or in pots in autumn before planting out the following spring.
- Cornflower: cornflowers are extremely colourful hardy annuals. They look great in beds and borders, flowering from late spring and summer into autumn. Cornflowers grow and flower best in sunny positions. They need a fertile soil enriched with lots of organic matter, which holds plenty of moisture in spring and summer.
- Poppy: bees forage on poppies not for the nectar, but for the protein-rich pollen, which these huge cup-shaped blooms produce in abundance, providing a welcome feast for pollinators
Herbaceous perennials - Perennial plants provide flowers in our gardens year after year for several years. They are planted together to create herbaceous and mixed borders, which peak in interest in summer and early autumn. However, they can provide colour through much of the year.
- Agrimony: this deciduous, perennial herbaceous plant is a native species to the UK. The plant has serrated edged pinnate leaves and a striking spike of five-petalled yellow flowers that bloom throughout the summer months of June, July and August. The flowers have a faint smell of apricots and have a generous pollen supply that is ideal to attract hoverflies, flies and honey bees.
- Clary, Wild Salvia verbenaca: a rare meadow plant. Worth growing just to observe thepollination mechanism; when a bee probes for nectar, this triggers the stamens to curl down and deposit of blob of pollen onto the bee's back.
- Red clover: red clover used to be a very common UK plant. Doesn't make much of a border plant, but great naturalized in meadow areas. Favoured by long-tongued bumblebees
- White clover: lovely in a lawn so long as it isn't mown too often. Can be grown instead of grass as an alternative lawn covering.
- Ox-eye daisy: known as one of the most important plants for pollinators in the UK, and thus serving valuable ecological functions – potentially more valuable than the crops they grow next to or the pasture grasses they appear to compete with.
- Knapweed: A common meadow wildflower, but takes well to the herbaceous border. Flowers July-August, partticularly favoured as drinking posts for male bumblebees.
- Purple loosestrife: a tall-growing wildflower that grows naturally on banks of streams and around ponds. It has strong, upright stems, topped in summer with long, poker-like heads of bright purple-red flowers. Its flowers are extremely attractive to bees and butterflies.
- Marjoram: A great all-rounder, easy to grow, attractive to heaps of different pollinators, and good for cooking too! Perennial, self-seeds, growing to ~2' tall, loves a sunny position. An essential plant for every garden.
- Meadow Cranesbil Geranium pratense: a beautiful, purple-blue wildflower that is commonly seen in meadows, along roadsides and hedgerows, and particularly in areas where soil is chalky and well drained. It is a perennial, native species within the British Isles and Europe and typically flowers between June and August each year.
- Musk Mallow: has delicate pale pink flowers that appear in July and August. It grows on roadside verges and field edges, and in hedgerows, pastures and churchyards. It favours dry places and is a popular cottage garden plant.
- Ragged Robin: The pink, frayed flowers of Ragged Robin are an increasingly rare sight as our wild wetland habitats disappear. A favourite among gardeners, bumblebees, butterflies and honeybees all enjoy the nectar it produces.
- Sainfoin: A rare perennial wildflower in the UK. Occasionally grown as a fodder crop. It has stunning pink flowers, and like most legumes, popular with bees.
- Scabious: Lovely meadow perennial with powder-puff blue flowers; bees love them! Flowers in July and August.
- Trefoil: The common birds foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is one of the commoner yellow flowers of the pea family. It is a perennial, with a prostrate habit (spreading along the ground). Its leaves appear trifoliate but a pair of small oval leaflets may be seen lower down.
- Vetch: A wildflower that takes well to the garden, and great for long-tongued bumblebees.
- Yarrow: has feathery, aromatic leaves and flat white flowerheads, which are attractive to a wide range of pollinators. It’s a good choice for growing in cottage and wildlife garden schemes, due to its informal appearance, spreading habit and attractiveness to pollinators
Biennial plants live for up to 2 years, flowering profusely in the 2nd year before setting seed.
- Foxglove: No cottage garden is complete without foxgloves, hardy biennials that are loved by long-tongued bees. Tolerate shade well, but flower best in full sun.
- Goat's-beard: attractive to pollinators, Goat’s Beard is easy to grow and is an excellent plant for a rain garden planting. It can also be used as a backdrop plant in a border, woodland, wild, or native plant garden.
- Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum: A biennial wildflower, grows very tall (over 6') and rather spiky. However, makes a tremendous plant for the back of a border. Very popular with a broad range of bee species. Flowers July-August.
- Viper's Bugloss: a hairy plant with dense spikes of bright blue, funnel-shaped flowers. It is found on chalk grassland, sand dunes, cliffs and disturbed ground, and is in bloom from May to September. It provides food for a range of insects, including Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebees, Large Skipper and Painted Lady butterflies, Honeybees and Red Mason Bees.
As gardeners, we can do our part to help keep these important pollinators well fed.
Growing a diverse variety of flowering plants can satisfy the appetites of various bee species. Along with planting lots of their favourite flowers, we can also improve the environment for bees by creating a safe haven in our gardens that they can call home.