I LOVE filling my deck and gardens with random containers filled with pollinator annuals. I love the customization of it and the variety. Here are 15 annuals you need to grow this year.
Perennials are excellent in so many different ways. The first obvious one is that you don’t need to replant them and rely on them often for many years. This is also a money-saving move.
Annuals, on the other hand, need to be replaced each year. But this gives you a creative edge in the way of trying new plants and flowers each year and placing them in different locations.
Also, most of my perennials are native to my area. But with annuals, I experiment with many varieties, as long as they are pretty and beneficial.
The benefit I try adding to each plant, shrub, or flower is to attract pollinators. Here are 15 of my favorite pollinator annuals.
This is definitely one of my favorite pollinator annuals. There are varieties and colors for every mood, and pollinators love them! Plus, these flowers will bloom all summer long!
- I deadhead them during the summer for continuous blooms. But at the end of summer, I start leaving some of the spent flowers on the plant so I can collect seeds for next year!
- These are some of the easiest pollinator annuals to grow from seed, which can be started indoors if desired. Buy them once, and unless you want a different variety, you’ll never have to buy them again!
Cosmos prefer full sun but will tolerate a little shade. Water regularly. Too much water or fertilizer will cut down on flowers. Slight wind protection will benefit tall plants.
I love sunflowers! They are so cheerful, almost like a smiley face on a plant! And pollinators of every kind, hummingbirds included, will love the flowers on these annuals!
- Come fall, and these flowers will bring you more joy as you watch birds of all kinds eat the coveted sunflower seeds. These are some all-around beneficial pollinator annuals!
- I sometimes will save a few seeds for next year, but usually, I just buy more and leave the seeds for the birds. Sunflowers are super easy to grow from seeds! Your best bet is to direct sow them.
Sunflowers love the sun! They will also tolerate almost any soil and are pretty sturdy against the wind. However, you could plant them against a fence or other object. They only need about an inch of water per week!
3. Sweet Alyssum
These dainty looking flowers look so pretty just about anywhere. I often put them around a taller plant or flower and sometimes by themselves in a cute container.
- Sweet Alyssum gives pollen and nectar all summer long and will attract pollinators of all kinds. Even though they look dainty, these flowers are pretty hardy!
- They come in colors ranging from white to purple and can be started from seed. The best bet is to direct sow them 3-4 weeks before the last frost.
Alyssum will flower best with at least 6 hours of full sun. Keep well-watered but don’t overwater. Keep in mind that pots often dry out quickly.
The zinnia is another absolute favorite annual flower I grow each year. The varieties and colors are many, and these pollinator annuals will bloom all summer long!
- Planted in the ground or in containers, they will definitely be found by pollinators! I often see the hummingbirds on them as well.
- Towards the end of summer, I will allow a couple of flowers to go to seed to collect them. When they are finished blooming, I leave ALL the flowers because birds enjoy them. Seeds can be started indoors or outside.
Zinnias do best in full sun. In extremely hot areas, they may like afternoon shade but may flower less or get diseases. They like moist soil, but be careful not to overwater. Tall flowers may benefit from slight wind protection.
You may also know cornflower as Bachelor’s Buttons. They are one of the only pollinator annuals that naturally come in a true blue color.
- Standing tall in your garden, pollinators of all kinds love these flowers! Bees are particularly fond of them, and birds will also enjoy the seeds in the winter.
- You can easily start seeds indoors or direct sow, and seeds are easy to gather for the next year. Interesting to note is that there is also a perennial of this flower (Centaurea montana).
Cornflowers prefer full sun but will tolerate afternoon shade. They are tolerant of poor soil and prefer regular watering. Allow the plant to dry out a bit before watering again.
Calendula is also known as the pot marigold, not to be confused with our regular marigold. (which I will insert here as an honorable mention for pollinator annuals!)
- These flowers more resemble a daisy, and you’ll regularly see pollinators visit them all growing season long. Most of us are familiar with the orange variety, although there are other colors like yellow.
- These annual flowers are easy to grow from seed, either indoors or direct, and easy to collect. So make sure you save a flower! Then, leave the rest for the birds.
Calendula will do well in full sun to partial shade. Preferring cooler temperatures, they may benefit from afternoon shade. Although they can tolerate dry soil, water regularly for more blooms.
Who doesn’t love the almost face-like flower of the pansy!? They are a cheerful little flower that comes in many colors and varieties.
- Preferring cooler weather, they are an early spring bloomer that provides essential nectar for bees.
- Pansies are easy to grow from seed but take a long time to mature and should be started indoors 10-12 weeks before your last frost. Seeds can also be collected from spent flowers for next year.
Pansies do well in full sun or part shade. If you live south of zone 7, plan on some afternoon shade or flowers will stop. Requiring regular watering, it’s best to water in the morning so leaves can dry all day.
I grew up thinking these flowers were called “Christine.” Guess I loved them so much as a small child that my parents called them “Christine flowers.” 🙂
- Coming in a variety of different colors, Lantana will attract pollinators of all kinds, especially butterflies. I’ve also seen hummingbirds stop by and check them out!
- You’ll want to deadhead the flowers, so they keep blooming, which they will do all season long! You can leave a few of the flowers that turn into berries for seeds next year. Lantana is easy to grow from seeds, indoors or out!
Lantana likes full sun or partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. Although drought-tolerant, they’ll flower better with regular watering.
You’ll love the salvia plant family and their attraction as pollinator annuals! They are magnets for a substantial flow of butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects! The hummingbirds also love it.
- Salvias come in a variety of colors, including red, purple, and white. They are perennials in warmer climates.
- Seeds can be collected from this easy-growing annual in the fall and can be started indoors or direct sown in spring.
Salvias thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Although relatively drought-tolerant, they do best with regular watering.
If you’re wanting beneficial pollinator annuals that get a lot of traffic, pentas is your flower! Butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and others will find these flowers irresistible.
- This nectar-rich plant will bloom all summer long with star-shaped flowers that come in deep red, lavender, white, purple, or pink. As with most annuals, this plant is a perennial in warmer zones.
- They are relatively easy to grow from seed, which can be collected after dried on the plant. (All seeds need to mature and dry on the plant for best results) They can be started indoors or direct sown.
Pentas prefer 6-8 hours of sun a day and like a lot of water. Keep them moist but not soggy, and although they are tolerant of different soils, use well-drained for the happiest plant.
This unique-looking flower is also called spider flower due to the tall, leggy appearance and leaves’ shape.
- Cleome has big, showy flowers that come in pink, white, or lilac or are bi-colored. The nectar attracts many pollinators, including the hummingbird moth.
- Cleome seeds are easy to collect after they dry in pods but don’t wait too long, or the pod will open up and disperse the seeds. Plants are very easy to grow by starting indoors, or sowing after the danger of frost has passed.
Cleome flowers best with at least 6 hours of sun and fertile, well-drained soil, although it will tolerate others. Once established, they are drought-tolerant, so water when dry.
These pollinator annuals are unique in the way that they produce the most scent (four times more than other flowers!) during the day, which will attract hungry bees and other pollinators looking for a meal.
- They have a unique flower head that looks like a tiny dragon when it dries. It can even be gently opened up by pressing on the sides, causing this “dragon” to look like it opened its mouth.
- Seeds are easily gathered from these dried seed pods and can be saved to grow new flowers next year. Start indoors early for the best growing season. These plants are short-lived perennials in zones 7-10.
Snapdragons prefer full sun, although they will tolerate some afternoon shade. They need adequate water but try watering at the base (instead of over the whole plant) to keep them healthy.
Tithonia, also known as the Mexican sunflower, will attract a vast array of pollinators all summer long. Special to note is that the Monarch butterfly absolutely loves these pollinator annuals!
- The beautiful flowers are characterized by their bright orange color, although some can have a yellow tinge. Their stems aren’t the strongest, either, so don’t place them where they may be in the way.
- Seeds are easy to collect in the fall; just be careful as the dried seed heads are a bit prickly. You can start them with ease indoors or in the ground in spring. Any seeds left will be enjoyed by the birds!
Tithonia does best in full sun and well-drained soil, although the soil quality isn’t as particular. Their water requirements are average. They are easy to care for!
14. Floss flower
Out of all the pollinator annuals listed here, this one may be the most uncommon to some, while to others, it’s an old favorite.
- I’ve not heard of them until recently, and I’m glad I did, for these flowers will bloom later, giving late-season pollinators nourishment. These fluffy flowers look like pom-poms and come in purple, white, pink, blue, or red.
- Floss flowers, or Ageratum, are easy enough to start from seed indoors 8-10 weeks before your last frost or in the ground in spring. They are heat lovers, though, and won’t bloom till about mid-summer. Seeds are easy to collect.
Floss flowers do best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Their water requirements are higher, with an average of 2 ½” of water a week. Notice their level of dryness if planted in a pot.
Ever hear of borage? Your local bees will hope you have! Honey bees, bumblebees, and most other beneficial bees will be very appreciative to find this plant in your yard.
- The flowers are a beautiful bright sky blue and are actually an ancient medicinal herb. This annual herb is also known as the starflower, which is pretty fitting.
- Borage can be grown from seed either indoors 3-4 weeks before your last frost or outside after the danger of frost. Seeds are easy to collect from the dried flower, and whatever is left over will be a treat for birds.
Borage really does best in full sun, although it will tolerate partial shade. It requires regular water, allowing the soil to dry between each watering once established. Fertilizing may actually halt blooming.
Pollinator annuals are fun, beautiful, and a welcome attraction to our homes as they usually bloom all season long.
Not only will you be doing the environment and wildlife a massive benefit from your flowers, but you’ll be helping pollinators as a whole.
Please note that it is essential that you do not use pesticides in your gardens! Actually, keep them off of your entire property!
I have found out that after a year or two of not using a single chemical in my yard, I actually have fewer garden pests in my gardens. This is because the birds and beneficial insects take care of everything for me and keep it balanced! Win-win!
Which pollinator annuals are your favorite? Are there any here that you plan on adding to your gardens? Please comment below and let me know! 🙂