Lists of plants that attract pollinators are useful to make us aware of the range of possible plant choices to consider. There will be many wonderful plants that are not on the lists that you can research if you fall in love with a particular plant. The most successful gardens use the right plants for the existing conditions on your location. Look at some lists, look up the plants, and see if they are the right choice for your garden site. Consider which plants do well in sun or shade or a bit of both. How wet or dry is your soil? Is it well-drained or constantly wet? Do you have a rich garden loam, sandy soil, or clay? If you aren’t sure, go slowly and don’t fret. It is likely that there are many plants that are right for your garden. Get advice at the nursery or from gardening friends or landscape professionals or plunge in gently with a few choices that seem right to you. The plants you choose should delight you as well as your pollinator guests.
Remember that, most often, native plants will feed a greater diversity of pollinators. If you decide on a few non-natives, choose ones that are not aggressive spreaders and do not tend to self-seed. There are many annuals that provide nectar to pollinators and can add to the diversity in your garden. Zinnias, cosmos, marigolds, tithonia, nasturtiums, and calendula are among the annuals to consider. Don’t forget the trees and shrubs. Willows species have some of the earliest blooming flowers and are very important to early pollinators. Blueberries are pollinator banquets.
Enjoy browsing the lists below and send us your own suggestions through the contact page if you have favorites.
New England Wildflower Society Native Plants for Pollinators – includes plant list
Heather Holm Plant Lists/Posters for Pollinators – beautiful posters
Heather Holm Perennial Plants for Pollinators Chart
Pollinator Partnership: Selecting Plants for Pollinators (List pages 16-20)
UMass Extension -Pollinators in the Landscape1 (includes a list)
MA Butterfly Club – Butterfly Gardening 101 Western MA (includes list)
NRCS Pollinator Friendly Plants for Northeast United States (great resource)
NABA Gardening for Butterflies in New England (includes host plant list)
Ellen Sousa Pollinator-Friendly Plants for New England Handout
Madeline Champagne – Gardening for Butterflies ( includes host plant list)
Audobon Native Plant Database you can search by zip code for your area