17 Aug 2020

Top plant families for pollinators in August

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

Lamiaceae – mint family

  • Particularly favoured by bumblebees but visited by all pollinator groups.
  • Herbs including: Salvia (sage), Origanum (oregano and marjoram), Thymus (thyme), Lavandula (lavender), Mentha (mint)
  • Ornamentals including: Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ (catmint), Lamium (dead-nettle), Stachys (hedge-nettle). Stachys byzantia (lamb’s ear) is used by the wool-carder bee, a solitary bee which uses the hair on the plant to line its nest.

Asteraceae – daisy family

  • Helenium, Rudbeckia, Aster, Helianthemum, Calendula: These colourful, open flowers are enjoyed by hoverflies, bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees. Many flower through late summer until autumn, providing late colour to your garden.
  • Cirsium rivulare: This easily grown ornamental thistle has deep purple flowers on long stems which will attract all pollinator groups to your garden.
  • Centaurea (cornflowers and knapweed): e.g. C. cyanus, C. montana: Cornflowers are particularly popular with bumblebees but are also visited by hoverflies, solitary bees and honeybee. Centaurea nigra (common knapweed) is a great plant to grow in your lawn to turn it into a meadow.
  • Dahlia: ​Flowering from autumn through to October, single-flowered Dahlia varieties such as ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ is very popular with bumblebees and solitary bees.
  • Achillea (yarrow) e.g. A. millefolium, A. filipendulina, A. ptarmica: These plants are a good source of nectar, attracting hoverflies, bumblebees, solitary bees, honeybees and butterflies.
  • Solidago (goldenrod) e.g. S. rugosa ‘Fireworks’: This plant flowers during late summer into autumn and provides a valuable resource to pollinators. It is not uncommon to see many hoverflies, bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees found on the flowers at the same time.

Apiaceae – carrot family

  • Many plants in this family have flat flowerheads which present their nectar easily, acting like a landing pad.
  • During the summer months they can be seen covered by tens of hoverflies.
  • Popular garden plants in this family include Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ (dark leaved cow parsley), Astrantia (masterwort), Eryngium (sea holly), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) and Anethum graveolens (dill).

Boraginaceae – borage family

  • Echium vulgare (viper’s bugloss): Producing nectar all day, this plant is highly rewarding to pollinators. It is often visited by bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees.
  • Symphytum (comfrey) e.g. Symphytum officinale: Comfrey has a long flowering period and is visited often by bumblebees and honeybees.
  • Borago (borage): Rich in pollen and nectar, borage is an excellent resource for pollinators, especially honeybees and bumblebees.
  • Phacelia tanacetifolia: This annual plant is very popular with bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies.

Fabaceae – pea family

  • White clover (Trifolium repens) is one of the top forage plants for honeybees in June, July and August.
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense) and bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) are used by bumblebees, including the red-tailed bumblebee.
  • Vetches (Vicia) and sweet peas (Lathyrus spp.) are also very attractive to pollinators.
  • There are also lots of vegetables from the legume family: runner beans, broad beans, French beans and peas.

Rosaceae – rose family

  • Rubus is the top plant for honeybees in June, July and August and it is also an important source of nectar and pollen for hoverflies. Rubus is abundant in the form of brambles in wild areas, but blackberry, raspberry, tayberry, loganberry, boysenberry are also types of Rubus, loved by pollinators and people alike.
  • Single-flowered roses. Leafcutter bees also use leaves to line their nests and have a particular fondness for rose leaves.