All great gardens have a high amount of diversity with many different plants all with different habits and purposes. When you’re planning your food garden, also plan a little space, if you can for some flowering perennials and annuals.
The purpose of this is to attract pollinators. It’s not only bees that take care of pollinating the plants. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, wasps, ladybugs, flying insects in general and small mammals are all considered pollinators.
This is why we shouldn’t be using pesticides to the degree that some people and companies are. It kills all of our pollinating insects and therefore our food plants don’t get pollinated and then we don’t get any harvest. Having pollination occur is crucial to our survival.
No pollination = No Food
When I was a beginner gardener, I didn’t understand this concept yet. I only allowed plants in my garden that provided berries or some kind of fruit or food for me. I guess you could say that I was a selfish gardener. Somewhere along the way, probably when I was working at a nursery, I discovered the world of flowers.
I started to buy flowers and add them to my garden selflessly, with the sole purpose of supporting the bees and butterflies. Within one season, my harvest doubled, at least! I was getting so much more fruit once the flowers were present. They were attracting so many new creatures and pollinators.
The only catch is that you need a good sunny area to grow these plants. They need 6 hours of direct sunshine a day in order to be happy.
This is a list of some of the perennials, annuals, vines and shrubs that you could add to your backyard food garden to attract these pollinators.
The B or H showing in the rightmost column, refers to which creature the plant attracts, either butterflies or hummingbirds or both.
|Latin||English||Zone||B or H or Both|
|Achillea||Yarrow||2 – 9||B|
|Agastache||Anise-Hyssop||2 – 9||B & H|
|Alcea||Hollyhock (red, purple)||2 – 9||B & H|
|Allium||Ornamental Onion||3 – 9||B|
|Aquilegia||Columbine||2 – 9||B|
|Asclepias||Milkweed||4 – 9||B|
|Aster||Michaelmas Daisy||3 – 9||B|
|Buddleia||Butterfly||5 – 9||B & H|
|Caryopteris||Bluebeard||5 – 9||B|
|Chelone||Turtlehead||3 – 9||B|
|Coreopsis||Tickseed||4 – 9||B|
|Delphinium||Delphinium||2 – 9||H|
|Dianthus||Sweet William||3 – 9||B|
|Echinacea||Purple Coneflower||3 – 9||B|
|Echinops||Globe Thistle||2 – 9||B|
|Heuchera||Coral Bells||3 – 9||H|
|Kniphofia||Red-hot Poker||5 – 9||H|
|Lavandula||Lavander||4 – 9||B|
|Leucanthemum||Shasta Daisy||4 – 9||B|
|Liatris||Blazing Star||2 – 9||B|
|Lobelia||Cardinal Flower||4 – 9||H|
|Malva||Mallow||3 – 9||B|
|Monarda||Beebalm||3 – 9||B & H|
|Perovskia||Russian Sage||4 – 9||B|
|Phlox Panaculata||Garden Phlox||3 – 9||B & H|
|Rudbeckia||Coneflower||2 – 9||B|
|Salvia||Perennial Sage||3 – 9||B & H|
|Scabiosa||Pincushion Flower||3 – 9||B|
|Sedum||Stonecrop||2 – 9||B|
|Solidago||Goldenrod||2 – 9||B|
|Thymus||Thyme||3 – 9||B|
|Semperflorens Cultorum||Tuberous Begonia||H|
|Cosmos||B & H|
|Nicotiana||Flowering Tobacco||B & H|
|Petunia||Petunia||B & H|
|Zinnea elegans||Zinnia||B & H|
Some of my favourite perennials in the past have been Delphinium, Achillea, Liatris, Monarda, Phlox, Sedum and Kniphofia.Some of my favourtie annuals have been the Canna Lily for sure, it’s so big and stately, I love the presence it brings to the garden.
Nasturtiums are nice but they tend to be an aphid magnet. So much so, that some gardeners plant this plant outside (but still near) the garden to attract the aphids away from the actual garden.
Sunflowers of course, speak for themselves. Nicotiana has downward hanging, tubular shaped flowers, this is one of the things hummingbirds love most.
There are so many, I’ll be adding more beautiful flowers to this list soon.