Bees and butterflies play a vital role in our ecosystems. They are part of the food chain but, more importantly, they help pollinate a huge array of plants, crops and more. Incorporating pollinator plants and flowers into our home gardens can help these critters do their crucial jobs and our plantings stay full and healthy. Here are six of the best pollinator plants and flowers to attract bees and butterflies. Not only will you be helping Mother Nature, but you’ll love watching these curious visitors working so hard. —Jennifer Cox
bee balm. These flowering plants are a member of the mint family and feature a pretty, open daisy-type flower. Once you plant them, they’ll conveniently come back every year. Not only do bees and butterflies love these blooms, but you’ll fall in love with their intoxicating fragrance.
sunflowers. Super hearty and very easy to grow, you can plant sunflowers anywhere that it’s bright and sunny. They’re fascinating to watch as they get stronger, taller, and sturdier (they might even get taller than you!). Once they’ve gone through their blooming cycle, you can cultivate the seeds from their centres and use them next year.
lavender. There’s a reason that lavender is used so much for relaxation: its soothing, sweet scent. Pollinators love them, too. Lavender plants are shrub-like with branchy stems and will come back year after year, stronger and larger each time, so they’re a worthwhile investment.
coneflower. Originally this used to grow as a weed in corn fields (hence its name), and since then, it has become a robust addition to gardens in an effort to appease the bumblebees. In the same family as sunflowers, coneflowers are known for their bright blue/indigo flowers. They are easy to grow, and you can even find smaller dwarf versions of the plants for container or balcony gardens.
goldenrod. A flowering plant used as an herbal supplement to reduce pain, this wildflower flourishes in roadside ditches and fields and can exist on rainwater alone, so it requires hardly any maintenance. It adds a pop of wild beautiful yellow to any landscape and will invite beautiful flying critters to your yard.
dahlia. Oh, so pretty, dahlias are from the daisy family and come in a wide range of stunning colours. They grow as single or double flowers and have a nice long growing season, so bees and butterflies will have lots of time to enjoy them with you. Plant them where there’s full sun for optimal results.