How To Grow A Thriving Pollinator Garden

a bee pollinating a flower in a pollinator garden

Today, we’re talking pollinators!

Join us as we explain what pollinators are, how to attract pollinators to your corner of the world, and the best pollinator garden plants and flowers.

Pollinators play a critical role in our world.

The role that we can play in the pollination process is to create a beautiful, safe place for them to thrive in our gardens.

Here’s how…

What Are Pollinators?

Simply stated, a pollinator is something that moves pollen around.

More specifically, pollinators are small animals and insects that feed on nectar and pollen found in the male structures of flowers.  While they are at it, pollinators spread bits of pollen to the female egg producing structures of the flowers that in the end produce seeds.

Pollinators are a large and diverse group of creatures that include mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

  • Mammals – Mammals that pollinate plants include bats (a process called chiropterophily), mice and other small rodents. Some other more interesting mammalian pollinators are black lemurs and mongoose.
  • Reptiles – Reptiles that pollinate plants including skinks, wall lizards, and geckos.
  • Birds – Birds pollinate flowers with the most famous pollinator in this category being the hummingbird, as they drink nectar to feed.
  • Insects – The group of insects that pollinate is exceptionally large and includes flies, butterflies, moths, ladybugs, beetles, wasps, and of course, bees!

How To Attract Pollinators To Your Garden

A pollinator-friendly garden is one that incorporates a variety of components.

Flowers, food, colours, and water are all part of a dynamic pollinator garden design.

Pollinators need a continuously blooming landscape.

Because pollinators rely on fresh pollen and nectar, the most important thing is to have a garden full of blossoms from spring through the fall.

1. Choose Flowers in Vibrant Hues

It’s been said that bright, pigmented colors can improve our mood.

Well, if that’s the case, then our insect friends may not be so different from us after all!

Both bees and butterflies prefer bright colors like purple, yellow, orange, and red.

When choosing which flowers to plant in your pollinator garden, keep in mind that bright is best.

2. Choose Flowers That Are Easily Accessible

Some of the most popular pollinator flowers have single, trumpet-shaped blooms, which allow bees and insects a comfortable landing and welcoming entry.

a bee pollinating a purple flower in a garden

3. Choose Flowers with Fragrance

Ahh, there’s nothing like the sweet smell of a pollinator-friendly garden!

Depending on what you’re aiming to attract, you may want to consider a variety of scented flowers.

Bees and flies are attracted to sweet smells like Stocks, Allium, Dictamnus (Gas Plant), Geraniums, Iris, Petunia, Rudbeckia, and Salvia.

Beetles, on the other hand, like spicy, fruity, and musky fragrances.

Flowers pollinated at night by moths are strong-smelling and have a far reach, like Evening Scented Stocks.

To learn more about planting a sweet-smelling garden, check out The Best Fragrant Flowers For Your Garden.

4. Provide A Water Source

It is important to include some kind of a water source in a pollinator friendly landscape.

This can be achieved by adding things like a bird bath or water fountain.

Open rain barrels that catch rain water are another great way to provide those thirsty pollinators with a well-deserved drink.

5. Keep Your Garden Pesticide-Free

As even the most novice gardener would know, pesticides kill insects.

Because we’re trying to invite these little guys in, it’s important to be sure that your garden is completely pesticide-free.

Yes, this even goes for products labelled as ‘safe’ or ‘organic’!

Some pesticides that are considered safe for certain insects (let’s say that you are looking for a bee or ladybug-safe product) do still kill off the young and developing insects.

If you are looking for non-toxic alternatives, explore the internet for ideas that use home remedies to ward off garden pests that do not interfere with pollinators.

The Best Flowers For Your Pollinator Garden

When it comes to choosing the best flowers for your pollinator garden, you have a number of options.

You can choose to either plant your garden with annuals, perennials, or both.


You could have a garden space completely composed of annuals, like on a balcony, that provides flowers all season, as long as they’re deadheaded.

Deadheading is simply the practice of removing old blossoms so that new ones can develop.

For a more comprehensive look at deadheading, check out Why Deadhead?

Here’s a handy chart that lists a whole bunch of beautiful annuals that you can plant to attract pollinators.

Annuals + Perennials

If you have a larger gardening space, you could incorporate a mix of annuals and perennials into a pollinator-friendly landscape.

When compared to annuals, perennials bloom at certain times throughout the year, and re-bloom each year.

Most perennials have a specific season of bloom and they are divided into spring, summer, and fall bloomers.

Looking to mix things up? Check out this helpful chart of perennials that earn an A+ in attracting pollinators.

pollinator garden perennials chart


Free Printable Garden Planner

Get your own easy-to-use, two-page list of Perfect Perennials and Awesome Annuals for your very own pollinator garden!

Final Thoughts on Pollinator Garden Design

All in all, when it comes down to it, the best approach to designing a beautiful and effective pollinator garden is to plan ahead and to incorporate different elements such as bright colours, welcoming shapes and lively fragrances for a nonstop supply of fresh nectar and pollen!

– by Sharon Wallish Murphy

About The Author

Sharon Wallish Murphy
Sharon grew up in the Wallish Greenhouse at the heels of her father, Charlie, who mentored her. Sharon’s passion is to share the love for growing and to empower others to find joy in their gardening journey, just like her dad.

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