Honey bees in hive
Organic Gardening

Gardening Basics: Which Part of a Plant Attracts Pollinators?

If you’ve read my post about bees and growing tomatoes, I pointed out the importance of pollination and fruit production. This post discusses what plants you may want to consider including planting in your garden to attract pollinators, what are pollinators, what is pollination, and which part of a plant attracts pollinators.

Honey bees in hive
Honey bees in hive

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

When we moved to our house, we had a minimal amount of flowers in our garden. I quickly realized there was a lot of work to be done to get pollinators to come to our house. It kind of makes me think it’s like putting flags out. Like, “hey! Over here. We got the good stuff!” 

The very next year, I started planting flowers. We first started out with zinnia, marigolds, and a butterfly bush, also known as summer lilac. We slowly expanded to a ton of other flowers which I’ve listed below so you can get an idea of what you might want to include in your garden. These are all flowers that will attract pollinators.

China AsterRocky Mountain Bee Plant
Bishops FlowerSnapdragon
Black-Eyed SusanSneezeweed
CalendulaSweet Sultan
BalsamSweet William
Crimson CloverTall Verbena
Coreopsis, Lance-leavedSweet Alyssum
Bachelor’s buttonSulphur Cosmos
CosmosCarpet of Snow Alyssum
DillBaby Blue Eyes
Lemon MintTussock Bellflower
Mexican LupineCandytuft
Mexican SunflowerCalifornia Bluebells
ParsleyCalifornia Poppy
Pincushion FlowerDwarf Columbine
Blazing StarCorn Poppy
Purple ConeflowerCreeping Daisy
Showy Evening PrimroseAlpine Forget-Me-Not
Chinese Forget-Me-NotJohnny-Jump-up
Swiss Giant PansyMaiden Pinks
Spurred SnapdragonWinter Thyme
Gray Striped Mammoth SunflowersTeddy Bear Sunflowers
Goldy Double SunflowersBuckwheat

You can get seed mixes/collections from places like Botanical Interests that are specifically for pollinators. These are all flowers that you can consider planting in your garden too if you’re looking to attract more to your garden.

Why is it important to have pollinators?

It’s estimated that somewhere between 75% to 95% of flowering plants on earth rely on pollinators. To put it in perspective, think this – “every 1 out of 3 bites of the food you eat was pollinated by bees”(1). To just say that we need pollinators is an understatement. We essentially need them in order to survive and grow food. Without them there would be a detrimental impact on our food supply. That isn’t a statement to scare you, but more so, we need to know how much of an effect we have on ourselves, our environment, and the other beings that live in it.

What is Pollination?

Grains of pollen from the male parts of the flower, known as anthers, move to the female part (stigma) of the flower. This occurs within the same species of a plant. Once the pollen comes in contact with the stigma, it moves down the style to the ovary.

anatomy of a flower
anatomy of a flower


AntherAn anther is the part of the stamen that produces pollen.

Stamen – the male part of the flower that has a long slender stalk, or filament, with a two-lobed anther at the tip.

Style – the stalk that supports the stigma and connects to the ovary. It’s a tube in which the pollen travels to reach the ovary.

What are Pollinators?

Pollinators are animals or insects (birds, bees, bats, butterflies, beetles and other small mammals) that move pollen from one plant to another. They carry the pollen on their bodies and transfer it to the next plant. This transfer of pollen is critical since it contains critical genetic material to the reproductive system of a flowering plant.

Which Part of a Plant Attracts Pollinators?

Most pollinators like to feed on specific plants. Plants have showy flowers that attract pollinators. They use cues like color, UV light patterns, shapes, nectar guides, and size (to name a few). Bees in particular use polarized light patterns, petal texture, temperature, humidity, and electrostatic charge to find flowers. Red and yellow flowers tend to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Some plants use nectar guides. Nectar guides are a type of pattern used to guide pollinators to the nectar and pollen.

  1. Protecting Bees, Building Habitat, and Strengthening Communities Together.” The Bee Conservancy, 14 Apr. 2022

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