Populations of bees (and monarchs, hummingbirds, and many other pollinator species) have been in freefall for years. The good news: since these pollinators tend to be highly mobile, even petite urban gardens can become safe havens where birds, bees, and butterflies can feed, nest, and take shelter for the winter. 

By now, you’ve probably heard about the plight of the bumblebee. Spoiler: it’s not good. 

Populations of bees (and monarchs, hummingbirds, and many other pollinator species) have been in freefall for years. The good news: since these pollinators tend to be highly mobile, even petite urban gardens can become safe havens where birds, bees, and butterflies can feed, nest, and take shelter for the winter. 

Many pollinators aren’t picky about where their nectar comes from—any old sunflower will do. But if you want to draw the species endemic to our little corner of the world, focus on native plants.

A study last year from University of California, Berkeley, found nonnative flowers tended to attract more nonnative bee species. Another recent paper from the American Society of Horticulture Science documented dozens of bee species that forage for pollen only on plants native to their same region.

So, this spring, incorporate a few native plants into your garden to support native pollinators, and to give yourself a stunning flower display in the months ahead.

To support ...

Plant ...

To bloom ...

Hummingbirds, such as:

Anna’s hummingbird
Calypte anna

Rufous hummingbird
Selasphorus rufus

Western columbine
Aquilegia formosa

May–June

Broad-leaved penstemon
Penstemon ovatus

May–June

Western trumpet honeysuckle
Lonicera ciliosa

May–July

Bees, such as:

Orchard mason bee
Osmia lignaria

Western bumblebee
Bombus occidentalis

Sweat bee
Halictus spp.

Leafcutter bee
Megachile spp.

Oregon grape
Mahonia aquifolium

Mar–Apr

Wild phlox
Collomia grandiflora

Apr–July

Yarrow
Achillea millefolium

May–Sept

Adult butterflies, such as:

West Coast lady
Vanessa annabella

Western tiger swallowtail
Papilio rutulus

Cabbage white
Pieris rapae

Showy milkweed
Asclepias speciosa

May–June

Mock orange
Philadelphus lewisii

May–June

Goldenrod
Solidago canadensis

Aug–Oct

Butterfly caterpillars

Bleeding heart
Dicentra formosa

Apr–May

Silver lupine
Lupinus albifrons

May–July

Cusick’s checker mallow
Sidalcea cusickii

May–Aug

 

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