Bees Love Lavender

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Lavender is a beautiful, sweet-smelling herb and it is also a magnet for bees – bees love lavender. Humans enjoy the purple flowers that appear during Summer. But, these beautiful blooms appeal to bees because they provide both nectar and pollen. If you want to grow more pollinator friendly plants, consider adding some lavender to your garden. Let’s dive in an explore the best types of lavender for your bees.

Honey bees foraging on purple lavender flowers.

Bees will make use of any available food sources. However, you can help create a diverse healthy ecosystem for them. Providing flowers bees love that are not already available in the landscape is one awesome way to help.

Why Grow Lavender for Bees?

When you add some lavender plants to your garden, you are supporting more than just honey bees. Native bees, beneficial insects, some birds and many other pollinators will make use of the nectar, pollen and foliage of your plants.

Once established, these plants do not require a lot of care. That’s another good reason to appreciate them.

Choosing the Best Varieties

There are many different varieties of lavender to buy or grow from seed. But, not every type of lavender is equally attractive to bees.

The flowers, fragrance and blooming patterns make some cultivars more appealing-you want the more bee-friendly options.

However, you must also consider your growing climate. I have a bit of a problem growing lavender in my location due to the hot, dry Summer. But, I keep trying to find the perfect cultivar and the perfect spot in the garden.

Lavenders Known for Bee-Friendly Qualities

  • English lavender
  • Lavandin
  • French lavender
  • Spanish lavender
English lavender plants in bloom.

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

When you think of a classic lavender flowers, this is likely the kind that comes to mind. Known for its sweet fragrance and purple flowers, English lavender is a favorite of bees.

The normal time of bloom is late spring and early summer. This provides an important nectar source when honey bee colonies are growing quickly.

English lavender is one of the more versatile varieties. It can adapt to various climates and soil types – a good choice to try for your bee garden.

Hybrid lavender plant attractive to bees.

Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)

Lavandin is a hybrid plant created by crossing English lavender and spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia). With any hybrid the goal is to combine the best traits of both species and this cross does that.

Flower spikes providing abundant nectar appear on tall, strong stems. Lavandin blooms later than English lavender – which is a good thing.

This extends the bloom period when you plant both. Providing weeks and weeks of bee food during Summer – a time that often has a nectar dearth period.

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Fields of french lavender plants with unusual bloom formation.

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)

French lavender is an evergreen shrub native to east and southern Spain (a bit confusing – not the same as Spanish Lavender). Its toothed leaves have a rich fragrance and the colorful flowers add charm to any garden.

Bees are attracted to French lavender but you might see more bumble bees visiting. Though honey bees and bumble bees share some similarities – they have differences too.

The tongues of honey bees are not as long as that of bumble bees. Therefore, they have a more difficult time reaching deep into some types of flowers.

Honey bee gathering nectar from Spanish lavender plants.

Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

Spanish lavender was commonly called “French lavender in old publications” – this causes some confusion. However today, it is referred to as “Lavandula stoechas “. It has soft, fern-like leaves and delicate, fragrant flowers.

Thriving in warm climates, Spanish lavender blooms throughout the summer, providing bees with a consistent source of nectar.

Lavender Care Tips

If your desire is to plant lavender for bees, you need to have healthy lavender plants. Struggling and stressed plants do not have the energy to provide food for bees.

Use these tips to maintain your lavender for optimal bee attraction:

  • Choose the right location. Most lavender varieties require full sun and well-draining soil. Avoid areas that are prone to excess moisture. (Plant a rain garden for your bees in the spot instead!)
  • Lavender prefers alkaline soil (pH 6.5-8). This may be one of the problems I face with lavender in my bee gardens as my soil is naturally acidic.
  • Plant lavender at the same depth as it was in the nursery container – avoid burying the root crown.
  • Once established, lavender is drought-tolerant. However, new plants should be watered more frequently until established.
  • Adding a layer of mulch around your lavender plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Pay attention to the exact cultivar of lavender that you plant. Generally cold-hardy, some plants need protection in harsh climates.

By planting these bee-friendly varieties of lavender in your garden, you can create a thriving ecosystem that supports local pollinators. These different types of lavender not only attract bees but also add beauty and fragrance to your outdoor space.

Combining with other Bee-friendly Plants

What can your grow with lavender for your bees to enjoy? There are several different plants that compliment a lavender garden. Also, any time we can add a variety of flower types (shapes or colors) that is a good thing for all bees.

FAQ

Why are bees so attracted to lavender?

Bees love lavender flowers because they are rich in pollen and nectar. Two very important resources that bees collect.

How do I choose the best lavender variety for my garden?

When selecting lavender varieties for your garden, consider your climate and soil type. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a versatile choice that thrives in a range of climates.

How often should I water my lavender plants

Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant and prefers infrequent, deep watering. Water your plants thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Newly planted lavender may need more frequent watering until it establishes, but once mature, lavender requires less water.

Can I grow lavender in pots or containers?

Yes, you can grow lavender in pots or containers, making it a great option for small spaces or balconies.

A Final Word

Lavender is a beautiful plant to grow in any garden and the fragrance is wonderful. That’s why I keep trying to establish it in my garden. If you love bees, try growing a few lavender plants in your outdoor space this year – a hungry bee with be thankful.

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