Everyone understands the importance of having pollinators in the garden. If you’re growing fruit trees, squash, cucumbers and other crops, you need insects to pollinate the flowers so that the fruit can set.
I’ve never been very intentional about attracting pollinators to the garden. They always just seem to be there. But I’ve always noticed what plants seem to attract these insects. One of the best plants for bringing bees the to garden seems to be lavender.
This easy to grow perennial is a bee magnet. When the lavender is blooming, one plant can easily be swarming with over a dozen bees. The lavender plant that’s in bloom right now is especially attractive to bumblebees. While a nearby russian sage has honey bees flying around its blooms, the lavender has nothing but bumblebees visiting its flowers.
I also have a volunteer borage plant growing near the lavender. Borage is supposed to be a great plant for attracting bees but when there’s lavender nearby, the bees ignore the borage and head straight to the lavender!
Growing lavender is easy. While starting it from seed can be a challenge due to slow and sporadic germination, if you start with a small plant from a nursery, it’s hard to go wrong. Lavender likes full sun but doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. It’s ignored by rabbits (yeah!) and the only thing it can’t tolerate is heavy, wet soil. If you want more plants, you can take cuttings and root them easily. And when the plant starts to bloom, you can cut some of the flowers and dry them for potpuorri or to use as dried flowers.
After seeing how well the lavender has grown and how the rabbits leave it alone, I’ve planted a small bed of lavender near the front door. The location is warm and sunny and the plants should make an easy to maintain “hedge” that will draw in the bees.
I’m also thinking about taking some cuttings, rooting them and planting them in the vegetable garden. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few more bees working in the garden.
So if you want bees, try some lavender – it’s sure to bring them into your yard.