Best Drought Resistant Plants for Bees
One of the easiest ways to help pollinators is planting flowers for bees that provide food. We must match our plants to our growing conditions. This can be challenging if you have an area that is especially dry. These drought tolerant plants for bees will give you some ideas to begin your garden plan.
When planting for bees, it is good to create plant groupings. Instead of having 1 plant of 20 different types, create block planting. Having 4 plants of 5 different varieties will be especially attractive to honey bees.
This is due in part to flower fidelity. Honey bees enjoy gathering food from the same type of plant during a given time period.
It is also easier for the bees to find the food source when planted in blocks of similar color or type. However, the bees are not that picky and will be glad of any available food source.
Some bee friendly plants provide pollen that bees use to feed and raise baby bees.
Other flowers produce nectar. Nectar is collected and used by honey bees to make honey!
And, some blooms provide both nectar and pollen to visiting pollinators. Both types of food are needed for healthy, well fed bee families.
Flowering Plants for Bees During Drought
Asters (Aster spp.) come in many different varieties and colors. Though most are small, they provide food late in the season when many other plants have gone to seed.
These dependable little flowers are hardy and easy to grow. They thrive in sunny locations. You may notice many wild types growing along roadsides and in fields.
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) is an interesting plant. We know it must be attractive to bees – it even has the word “bee” in its common name.
Bee Balm has unusual frilly blooms and comes in several colors. It is suitable for sunny locations to partial shade.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a very drought tolerant plant. Once established it requires no maintenance from the gardener.
Happiest in a sunny spot, Butterfly Weed is also a host plant for monarch butterflies
Catmint (Nepeta spp.) is a great addition to the bee garden due to its long bloom time. This mint can provide food for pollinators over several months.
It is available in several different types and a variety of sizes and spreads. Some types have an upright growth habit – others are lower growing.
Happy in full sun, this plant is a mint so give it space. And, you may have some kitty cat visitors.
Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) is one of the most well-known bee friendly plants. Choose the common purple coneflowers if you are just learning about gardening.
These dependable flowers provide food for bees early in the season. They are also a seed source for birds in late Fall and Winter.
In my region, purple coneflowers are easy to over Winter and often need thinned after several years. The more modern cultivars are also hardy but they are slower to reproduce.
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) is a native flower that is often noticed in the wild. In Fall, the tall plants come alive with brilliant yellow blooms. Look closely and you will see bees or many kinds working the blooms.
Because it blooms at the same time as Ragweed, Goldenrod is often blamed for allergies.
However, the pollen from Goldenrod is heavy and not wind borne. It does not cause your itchy eyes or stuffy nose.
Many varieties are available. This plant makes a beautiful background specimen for a backyard garden.
Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta) is also known as Black-Eyed Susan. This daisy like flower is very similar in appearance to coneflowers.
Growing in clump-like fashion, the plants will quickly double in size. Providing food for many pollinators, they do best in a sunny spot.
Salvia (Salvia spp.) also known as Sages, are available in many varieties and make an excellent addition to any pollinator garden.
This nectar rich plant is easy to grow in full sun but can take partial shade. It provides nectar over a long period to many hungry bees.
The old-world varieties are better suited for honey bees than the more modern cultivars. However, hummingbirds will enjoy all varieties.
Most Salvias need very little water but grow best in well drained soil. Some varieties will also do well in large containers.
Sedum (Sedum spp.) is a member of the succulent family. It is very drought-tolerant and has thick fleshy leaves.
Dying back to the ground during Winter, each Spring sees new growth emerge. This is a mounding plant that will fit into any location and does well in containers.
If you have a problem growing things, Sedum is the plant for you. Seeming to thrive on neglect, Sedum comes alive with late Summer blooms.
The colorful compact blooms are very attractive to bees, wasps and other pollinating insects. One of the most popular varieties is “Autumn Joy”.
However, you have several types to choose from that vary in leaf color and bloom color. Sedum is another valued plant that provides badly needed late season food.
Drought tolerant flowering plants for bees can be an important part of any garden design.
In times of normal rainfall, the plants will produce bee food. And, in times of drought, the bees will still have food to gather from the blooms.
Choosing a variety of bloom times to provide an oasis of plenty for your bee pollinators throughout the season.