Providing Wildflowers for Pollinators

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators need access to abundant nectar and pollen resources throughout the growing season. At minimum, strive for three species to be blooming at any one time; the greater the diversity, the better. The links below will help you find the best plants for your garden. It is important to include flowers that bloom early in the spring to provide food for newly emerging bumble bee queens. Similarly, it is important to provide flowers that bloom in the late summer and fall to support new bumble bee queens for overwintering.

If you are adding plants to your garden, plant flowers in clumps at least three-feet-wide to help them be more attractive to passing pollinators. Choose native plants wherever possible, as they have evolved with native pollinators and the local environment. To attract butterflies, include their host plant in your pollinator garden.

Regional plant lists for pollinators:


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Great Lakes Region

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Maritime Northwest

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Mid-Atlantic Region

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Midwest Region

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Northeast Region

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Southeast Region

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Southern Plains

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Taking Next Steps

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

For more regional plant lists, visit our Pollinator Conservation Resource Center. Read more.

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed

Step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed in areas that range in size from a small backyard garden to an acre or more. Read more.

Attracting Native Pollinators

Xerces’ most recent book, Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, is available to purchase from our website. The book is published in 2011 by Storey Publishing, North Adams, Massachusetts. Attracting Native Pollinators is coauthored by four Xerces Society staff members Eric Mader, Matthew Shepherd, Mace Vaughan, and Scott Black in collaboration with Gretchen LeBuhn, San Francisco State University. Read more.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes

Xerces Society scientists worked with native seed companies across the U.S. to design wildflower seed mixes that provide foraging and nesting resources for a diversity of pollinators. Read more.

Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed

By James Eckberg, Jennifer Hopwood, and Eric Lee-Mäder In this document we outline the basic steps of collecting native plant seed using readily available, non-specialized equipment, as well as tips for cleaning, storing, and sharing seed to expand pollinator habitat on farms and in our communities. To download this document in PDF format, click here.

Ladybird Johnson Plant List

Xerces Society scientists worked with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center botanists to develop searchable plant lists of species that are attractive to native bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects, as well as lists of plants with value as nesting materials for native bees. Click here for the plant lists.


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In Your Pollinator Garden

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Plant Milkweed Seed!

Milkweeds support monarch butterflies, native bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects. Search for sources of milkweed seed now!

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

The Resource Center is where you can find regional information about plant lists, habitat conservation guides, and more. Learn more.

Long horned bee (Melissodes sp.) on sunflower by Mace Vaughan. Pollinator garden by Eric Mader. Sign in sunflowers by Celeste Ets-Hokin. Milkweed seedlings by Rodney Thurman, Greenheart Farms. Asters by Matthew Shepherd.