Most gardeners would agree that bedding plants are a great way to bring extra colour to the garden in Summer - but you may be surprised to learn that despite their visual appeal, many bedding plants are doing absolutely nothing to help the pollinators in your garden.
Many bedding and basket plants are bred mainly for flower shape and to appeal to the human eye. These are known as ‘hybrid plants’ and they produce very little nectar or pollen. Whilst they don’t harm bees and other pollinators directly, they don’t provide any benefits to them either.
Filling your baskets and container displays with this type of flower means you are creating a barren environment for pollinators when you could be creating a nurturing green space in which they could thrive! So, what plants should you choose?
Nectar rich, non-hybrid plants tend to be older heirloom varieties that came about naturally, including wildflowers and plants with ‘single flowers’, (flowers with a single row of petals). Think cottage garden and traditional flowers and you won't be far off. There are many bee-friendly species but below are 10 commonly available, non-hybrid plants that are great for bees and other pollinators. I’ve also included a ‘naughty’ list of bedding plants that have little to no benefit to insects. Look out for ANY plant varieties that have F1 included in the name as these can be added to the list of those pesky, bee confounding varieties!
Hanging baskets and containers can be a great opportunity to provide mini habitats for pollinators. Even those with very little space can fit one or two baskets by a doorway or on a city balcony and create a veritable oasis for bees and insects. If you really want to get your baskets buzzing and bring beauty to small spaces, try some
of the varieties listed below.
Great flowers for Bees
Sunflower (helianthus annuus)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis)
Poppies (Corn poppies, California poppies and Icelandic poppies)
Red Valerian ( Centranthus rubra)
Verbena ( Rigida or Bonariensis )
Marigold ( Calendula officinalis)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus)
The 'Naughty' list, aka 'plants the bees won't thank you for!'
Perlargoniums ( sometimes called geraniums)
Any F1 plant varieties