Bee Friendly Plants for Pots & Containers

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Learn how to enhance your patio or balcony with bee friendly plants in pots. You can create a beautiful pollinator container garden-even in a small space. Adding beauty to your space and nectar-rich flowers for many types of bees is easier than you may think. Of course, you do need to choose the right types of flowering plants – if you hope to create a buzzing impact.

A collection of bee friendly blooming plants in containers on balcony.

As a beekeeper, I have always been interested in a bee-friendly garden. I was a plant lover long before beehives arrived on my land. It is nice to know that you can help feed hungry bees – even if you don’t have the perfect good soil or a lot of space.

Benefits of Bee-Friendly Plants in Pots

There are many benefits of creating a bee friendly container garden.

  • supporting local pollinators – both native and non-native bees will visit
  • adding beauty to your space – both bees and humans love color flowers
  • low maintenance – it is often easier to manage a few potted plants than a full garden
  • promotes sustainable gardening – less use of pesticides, herbicides, etc

A lovely garden space will also invite other types of nature in for a closer look. Hummingbird feeders are a nice addition and in normal cases hummingbirds do not conflict with bees. Give the bees something better to visit and they are less likely to be at your feeders.

Various pots and containers suitable for creating a bee garden in small space.

Choosing the Right Pots

Pots and planting containers come in all sizes, colors and materials. Your personal preference or design must play a role in selection. But, I want to give you some tips to consider.

Larger pots are more expensive. But, they offer so much variety that they are worth the price tag if your budget allows. In fact, it seems that we often start out with a small pot and then wish we had a larger one.

If your chosen pots do not have drainage holes, add some. Unless you are growing bog plants, the soil must drain well or you risk disease or plant death.

In a large container, you can create a bee oasis with several nectar rich flowers. The space allows you more choice when selecting flowers that do well in containers.

Top Bee Friendly Container Plants

Here are some of the most popular potted plants for bees.

Included in this list are a wide variety of shapes, designs and colors. You should be able to choose several that will do well in a container garden on your balcony or patio.

Planting Considerations

Choose good quality potting soil for your bee friendly potted plants. This is not always easy to do as some of the products labeled as “soil” at the local garden centers are a joke.

Look for a good mid-level quality mix. The cheapest soil mixes are often not suitable for use as a growing medium alone.

Newspaper can be used to line the bottom of the pot to prevent soil loss through drainage holes. The addition of several layers of gravel or similar material in the bottom aids in drainage.

This prevents soggy soil and diseased plants. In single containers, fill with potting soil up to within 6 inches of the top.

Stacked Planters Add Interest

If you have the space, stacked whisky barrels (or similar pots) can create a very interesting display. You need 2 half barrels – one large and one smaller.

Place a pot (upside down) in the larger barrel. The bottom of the pot should be about 12 inches shorter than top of the large container.

Add some type of medium in the large barrel around the inverted pot. This can be gravel or cut up pool noodles to aid in drainage and reduce soil needed.

Set the smaller whisky barrel on top of the inverted pot. Now you have a 2-tier pollinator garden to plant as you wish. You can even buy a set of 3 for a 3 tier garden.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Plant

How do you choose the best flowering plants for your container bee garden? In general, we desire those that are somewhat compact and will not grow too tall.

Try to include a variety of nectar and pollen rich flowers. Not all blooming plants produce nectar or pollen! If shopping at a local store, you may see a bee displayed on the plant tag .

Compact Container Plants

Don’t forget to consider mature plant size. A large flowering bush for bees may be a great idea -but do you have a large enough pot to allow the shrub to thrive?

Stressed plants do not reach their potential in growth or nectar production. They tend to look straggly and may turn over in windy situations.

Growing Conditions

Growing conditions play a large role in the health and beauty of your garden. A major advantage of container gardens is their portability.

Bees do love sun. Place your potted plants for bees in full sun when possible and use flowers suitable for that environment. At least half a day of sun with some shade in the afternoon works well in most situations.

Annuals or Perennials

Do you want to choose annual flowers or perennials bees like, consider which ones do best in your zone.

Annuals are easier in some ways to grow in a pot because they only live for one season. This allows you to easily rotate using different ones for your garden space.

But, perennials offer the benefit of coming back next year – so you must think about those best suited for your hardiness zone.


When creating plantings for bees in pots, we must consider that you may be working with limited space. What if you or someone you love has a great fear of bees?

Can you share this space with stinging insects? Sure you can. Busy working honey bees rarely sting if unprovoked.

Give them enough space and do not disturb their activity. Unless a bee’s nest is close by, they do not mind your company.

More Ideas

As you are designing your bee garden area, think about creating a water source for bees. Insects need water, especially during the heat of summer.

My backyard has several small water gardens where the bees visit to drink. In fact, I have several containers with lotus flowers – outside the pond area.

For a small space, a little bee waterer is a cute project for the kids to make. If you have the room, a slightly larger bee watering station can be a nice addition to your garden theme.


Can I grow bee-friendly plants in pots indoors?

Sure, you can grow bee friendly plants indoors to get a head start. But, unless you invite the bees inside – you will have to more the plants outside 😉

Do all bee-friendly plants attract bees equally?

No, even among the selection of bee friendly plants, some are more attractive to pollinators than others.

Can I mix bee-friendly plants with other types of plants in the same pot?

Yes, you can mix bee-friendly plants with other types of plants in the same pot, but it’s essential to consider each plant’s growth habits, watering needs, and sunlight requirements.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need a large space to make a difference to a hungry bee. Decorate your outdoor space with a few flowering plants in pots that bees like and you may be surprised to see who comes to visit.

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