Annuals that pollinators love: Our favorites

Posted by tonka_admin on May 26th 2016

Hi! Today we are talking about annuals that pollinators love. With so many options, it is hard to narrow down the choices, so I (Jessie) am going to do that for you. I spent some time in my garden yesterday. We just moved into a new house last June. Let’s just say, we have a large yard with lots of potential. With that said, I am oh so grateful for the opportunity to get the gardens back into shape. Our first move was to start removing all the old and neglected shrubbery. Wow, this really impressed the neighbors. You can actually see our house from the road! They are really loving looking at our dirt patch that spans the length of our driveway. Anyway, across the driveway, there is a smallish garden patch that once had an assortment of overgrown and invasive shrubs. I haven’t yet committed to what it is going to look like. This year, I have decided it will be a mixed-use garden. This also happens to be the spot where my yard gets the most sun! I am planting it with a few perennials (for pollinators, of course) knowing that I can move them around if I need to, vegetables, herbs and annuals that pollinators love. Here are some of the items I chose:

Nicotiana sylvestris

Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: NicotaniaAlso known as flowering tobacco, this type of nicotiana is a vigorous, rosette-forming plant that typically grows 3-4 feet tall and features pendant clusters of long-tubed, trumpet-shaped, white flowers that resemble shooting stars. Flowers are strongly fragrant. Blooms all summer and into fall! Flowers are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Also, because the flowers are white, you can see them in the dark.

Nicotiana (the shorter variety)

Not as tall as our friend above, but still highly fragrant and attractive to pollinators. This series also comes in a wide range of colors, including reds, whites, pink, purple and lime green! [gap height="5"]

Verbena boanariensis

Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Verbena bThis flower is casually referred to as Verbena b. While not a stunner on the greenhouse bench, this is an upright verbena that carries 2- to 3-inch clusters of pinkish-purple blooms on wiry, self-supporting stems. The dark green leaves are very narrow and very sparse, so the plants are remarkably light and airy. Plant in mass for the best impact! Attractive to many species of bees and also butterflies. [gap height="5"]

Fernleaf dill

Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: DillWispy, bronzy foliage is a great addition to this patch and is a food favorite of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Dill, like parsley, draws the parsleyworm caterpillar, which is the larva of the black swallowtail butterfly. Plant enough to feed yourself and the caterpillars. Far from a pest, the butterflies are often encouraged by gardeners who plant dill and parsley in patches just to attract them. [gap height="5"]


Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Red Rubin basil Instead of harvesting all the basil for your pesto, you are going to have to let some of it go to flower in order to attract the bees and such. I chose to grow sweet basil because it’s the best, and Red Rubin Basil (see photo) because of the dark purple ornamental foliage. Two totally different taste experiences. I have actually never cooked with the purple-leafed basil, so I will have to let you know how it goes. Basil is for the bees! [gap height="5"]


Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Pentas Large clusters of vibrant red, white, pink or rose star-like flowers and dark green leaves until frost. Easy-growing, low upkeep 14 to 18 inches tall variety requires no deadheading as new flowers form over spent blooms. Well-branched plants are bred to thrive in hot summer conditions. Excellent in the landscape or starring in a patio container. Nectar-rich flowers prove irresistible to butterflies and bees. Full sun all the time! Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Salvias

Salvia Black and Blue (and all other Salvias)

Two-lipped, tubular, true blue flowers are set apart from the green foliage and impressive stature of this plant! Blooms from mid-summer and into fall. The foliage has an anise- or sage-scented aroma. Irresistible to bees and hummingbirds! [gap height="5"] Annuals for pollinators at Tonkadale Greenhouse: Zinnias


All types! Yes! Yes! Yes! While these are only a select few varieties of annuals that pollinators love, this is all I have room for. I plant for what I like in the colors that work and the food that my family will eat. Stay tuned for more pollinator plant blog posts! We will keep them coming all summer long!