8 Types of Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers to Plant to Attract Pollinators
Shawn A. Bible of the TDOT Pollinator Habitat Program, “Pollinators are a diverse group of species which includes birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and beetles. They are critically important to life, and their numbers are in steady decline as a result of the loss of habitat, pests and pathogens, exposure to pesticides, and other stressors.”
In response to the decline, Tennessee leadership, as well as national groups, have kicked off endeavors to increase pollinators by various means. One such method is merely planting pollinator-attracting trees, shrubs, and flowers in our yards or elsewhere, giving these precious creatures something to eat. We’ve gone in for the best of each plant type to attract them here in our region. What might work in your yard?
Named after the shape of their flowers, which resemble tulips, these trees are hardy enough for USDA Zones 4–9. They grow somewhat quickly and are lovely to behold. Their flowers, large with orange centers and yellow-green petals, appear in the late spring to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Multiple species within the same genus, asters bloom in autumn in a couple of different colors — deep blue or purple with yellow centers, or white with yellow centers. With a bushy base, asters can grow up to 3 feet tall. Attractive to bees and butterflies, they typically begin their blossoming in late August and continue through October or until it frosts.
Southern Magnolia Trees
The mighty Magnolia can grow as tall as eighty feet while spreading out as full as forty feet. Indigenous to the southeastern United States, the often fragrant Magnolia has blossoms of white or cream with yellow centers. A hardy tree frequently used in carpentry, the Magnolia is also known as the Evergreen Magnolia, Laurel Magnolia, and Big Laurel. It’s attractive to honeybees, birds, and beetles.
Purple echinacea, also known as coneflowers, are pretty plants, perfect for both small and large gardens. They bloom for around two full months in the summer, and sometimes once again in autumn. Attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, (for the blooms), and later on small birds like goldfinches, (for the seeds), coneflowers are ideal for pollinator projects. Some echinacea species are used medicinally, as well.
Several types of bees (including carpenter bees, bumblebees, mason bees, Halictid bees, and blueberry bees), are attracted to the Eastern Redbud’s fuchsia blossoms when they open in the early spring. As the trees grow to around twenty-five feet tall with an equally widespread, birds and insects enjoy them later in the year. Many people admire their heart-shaped leaves.
Blue Wild Indigo
Also known as Blue False Indigo, Redneck Lupine, and False Lupine, Blue Wild Indigo is recognized by its light blue flowers. Attractive to butterflies especially, the Blue Wild Indigo grows into small shrubs, ideal for many types of gardens. The species acts as a primary food source for caterpillars as well as being attractive to pollinators, meaning various caterpillars eat from it as they grow after butterflies laid their eggs on the plant. These caterpillars include the Wild Indigo Duskywing, Orange Sulphur, Frosted Elfin, Eastern-Tailed Blue, and many more.
Known as the Black Tupelo, Tupelo, and sour gum tree as well, the Nyssa sylvatica is native to eastern North America. A slow-growing tree, the Black Gum usually reaches a height of thirty to fifty feet tall. Their tiny blue and black blossoms attract bees of all kinds, as well as birds including robins, bluebirds, woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, swallows, wild turkeys, veeries, the scarlet tanager, and more. Pine trees are also perfect to blend with these.
A favorite of many, the Black-Eyed Susan is attractive to numerous pollinators, including various butterflies (namely Monarchs), bees, beetles, and birds (mostly Finches), as well as a plethora of other beneficial insects. Their dark centers, or “black eyes,” comprise hundreds of tiny little flowers, which appear to pollinators as small cups of nectar — explaining the appeal of this plant to so many varieties of pollinator! Black-eyed Susans make a lovely addition to any garden or meadow area and generally bloom from June through September.
Let us know what you’ve tried in your garden! Are you interested in placing an order or have questions about anything at Tennessee Wholesale Nursery? Give us a call here Or email here For more details or answers to your questions.