Giant Hyssop – Agastache foeniculum: This native plant is stellar! It is a very easy plant to grow in sun and part shade. The flowers are light purple and produce nectar all day long from July to late August. The leaves and flowers also make a nice tea. This plant is available from the Edmonton Native Plant Group, Clark Ecoscience and even some garden centres, though you won’t know for sure in the last case that it’s a true Alberta native.
Globe Thistle – Echinops ritro: If you don’t mind something prickly, this drought tolerant plant is also a bee magnet from early summer to fall. It is available in garden centres.
Chives: While I love chives, they can seed themselves around very readily. Yes, they are great for bees but you may need to cut the flowers before they go to seed or be prepared to dig out seedlings. A great “green onion” plant is Welsh Onion. It is also perennial and eventually makes a large white flower that the bees love. It also likes to spread but it’s a bit easier to remove than chives.
If you don’t want to deal with a prolific self-seeder, you can also plant the native Nodding Onion and let it spread. It is a small plant that’s hardly noticeable but provides early season flowers. This plant is also available from the Edmonton Native Plant Group.
Spirea japonica: You may already have this small shrub. It flowers in late May.
Borage: This annual has a blue star-shaped flower that looks great in salads. It blooms all summer long into fall and the bees visit it all day long. It self-seeds, but it’s easy to pull extra plants and compost them.
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant – Cleome serrulata: This annual flowers for a very long time.
Other Plants I like for Wild Bees:
Dandelions: Yes, they are great for the bees! They flower very early, which is important for the wild bees hatched in April and May.
Moss Phlox: This gorgeous ground cover plant blooms most of May.
Canada Violet: Another fabulous native. This plant has edible flowers in early May and all through the summer. It spreads slowly but it’s a low plant and I don’t mind it between other plants.
White Clover: You can seed white clover into your lawn if it’s a bit patchy and you don’t want to mow, water and fertilize it regularly. Clover spreads by the roots, so if you don’t want it in your flowerbeds or garden, edging is important.
Summer and Fall
Garden Hyssop – Hyssopus officinalis: Another bee magnet that does well in sun or part shade and is drought tolerant. Available in garden centres.
Stiff Goldenrod – Solidago rigida: A great native fall bloomer that is well behaved but easy to divide. Available from the Edmonton Native Plant Group or Clark Ecoscience.
Easy annuals: Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, Calendula and Dill
Herbs: Lemon Balm and Oregano. Both perennials are great for people and pollinators.