Not only is yellow a bright, cheerful color, but adding it to our garden is like adding rays of sunshine. Find out which 10 yellow perennials are not only beautiful but beneficial to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators!
Top 10 Yellow Perennials Pollinators Love
1. Cutleaf Coneflower
The Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) does a wonderful job providing nourishment for pollinators nearly all season long. All you need to do is stand there for a few minutes to see some sort of bee, butterfly, or other pollinators on these flowers.
Cutleaf Coneflower is a member of the Aster family (which is also loved by pollinators!) and is native to parts of the US and into Canada.
This plant is easy to grow and spread by underground rhizomes, so plan to give it some room in the garden. It also gets pretty tall and wide, so it needs space that way as well.
These yellow perennials are worth having! You’ll have beautiful yellow flowers all season long.
The Cutleaf Coneflower is also a host plant to the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly and several moth species.
Leave these plants in the fall and they’ll serve as food for your wintering birds!
2. Cup plant
The Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) not only provides nectar to a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, but it provides a drink of water as well!
The leaves of the Cup plant form a “cup” at the base. This allows rainwater to collect in pools on the leaves, allowing all sorts of creatures to get a drink!
The nectar of the Cup plant is highly attractive, as are most Asteraceae sunflower family flowers, so you’ll see a steady parade on these flowers!
These yellow perennials get pretty tall, so be sure not to plant them in front of your garden if you have short plants! Note that the Compass plant and Rosinweed are all similar (and yellow!), as all are in the Silhphium genus.
Cup plants can get pretty big, so keep that in mind when you plant them! They may be perfect in an area by themselves or with Cutleaf Coneflowers as well! These are native to the US; win win!
Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed, will bloom nearly all season long as it beckons pollinators to its yellow flowers. Bees are particularly fond of certain varieties of this easy-growing flower, like the Prairie Coreopsis. I’ve found many butterflies and bees on tall Coreopsis.
Another member of the Asteraceae family, these yellow perennials are native to the US, parts of Canada, and Mexico. Perennials in zones 3-8, Coreopsis are sure to brighten up any garden or meadow. The bonus, of course, is their source of nectar for our pollinators.
Contrary to the name, this flower won’t make you sneeze unless you’re allergic to all pollen, ha! The Sneezeweed is a member of the Helenium genus, which, in turn, is another member of the Asteraceae family. A common thread, it seems!
Pollinators will readily visit these beautiful sunny flowers, native to the US, from mid-summer into fall. Bees especially love them, although you’ll definitely see butterflies and other pollinators as well.
I particularly love the shape of the petals; it gives these yellow perennials a unique, fancy look.
Fun Fact: These are called Sneezeweed because the Native Americans used to dry the flowers and use them for a snuff that would make people sneeze. Their belief was that if you sneezed, you would release evil spirits from your body.
Goldenrod seems to have a bit of a bad rap, as many think of it as the “weed” that makes them sneeze. Goldenrod, in fact, doesn’t cause many allergies. That would be Ragweed that they are thinking about! My own dog is even allergic to Ragweed!
Goldenrod is actually a very essential flower that thankfully can grow almost anywhere, especially since there are varieties like the Bluestem and Zigzag that prefer shady areas. You can even find a dwarf variety at quality flower suppliers!
These yellow perennials are essential because they provide late-season nectar for our pollinators, specifically the iconic Monarch butterfly, while migrating south for the winter.
I absolutely LOVE seeing the bright yellow of these flowers long after so many flowers have stopped blooming! Set some purple New England Asters in there, and you have that perfect color combination!
6. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort, also known as Hypericum, is actually a small shrub that all the bees in your area will absolutely love! This pretty little shrub will also attract Leafcutter bees (the Great variety), as they will use the leaves to help make their nests.
With their large, open flowers and multiple stamens, all pollinators will totally love visiting these yellow perennials all throughout the day!
Not native to the US, but again, bees totally love these flowers!
NOTE: Although not listed as an invasive plant, it can spread and may be hard to get rid of if you change your mind on it, so plant it in a place you plan to keep it and maybe watch it to keep it contained there if desired.
7. Winter Aconite
These honey-scented flowers will blanket the ground in early spring, about the same time Snowdrops bloom. They look like a blanket of gold and would be fabulous on a hill or under some trees. Or really anywhere you want to see flowers when it’s barely spring!
Pollinators who are out early will cherish these yellow perennials. It could very well be their first meal after hibernation or migration. Winter Aconite is thought to provide both nectar and pollen.
These very early bloomers are hardy in zones 4-7 and naturalize well. Great as ground cover!
8. Blanket flower
Although there is a variety of colors that the Blanket flower, aka Gaillardia, provides, there are some cultivars that are pure yellow. Another member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae, it’s native to North and South America.
Pollinators love Gaillardia, which is why I suppose it makes the Royal Horticultural Society’s Perfect for Pollinators list! They are easy to grow, compact, and so beautiful!
Although yarrow comes in different colors, there is also a sunny, bright yellow variety of yarrow that your pollinators will go crazy for! In fact, many bee-oriented websites say that yarrow is a must-have!
Yarrow also has other benefits; apparently, it puts off a pungent smell that repels pests. Due to its umbrella-like shape, beneficial insects and pollinators use it to hide from weather and predators. It also may add nutrients to your soil!
Although it may have a bad rap for taking over an area, I find that it’s more so with the native white common yarrow. If you get plants you don’t want in the area, you can spread the pollinator love and give them away or move them. The benefits of these hardy yellow perennials outweigh the cons!
I’m pretty sure a pollinator list wouldn’t be complete without including Rudbeckia. Although, to be honest, I don’t usually see too many pollinators on my black-eyed Susans compared to my other nectar flowers. I do tend to see more on the brown-eyed Susan variety, though.
The difference between the two is noticeable once you look for it. Black-eyed Susans are more compact and short, having the black “eye.” While brown-eyed Susans are taller, flowier, and yes, have browner centers.
I love both of them; if for nothing else, their never-ending blooms and cheery yellow. I would say enough pollinators land on mine to include them as yellow perennials you should give a try!
Benefits to birds
A great thing about most of these yellow perennials is their ability to provide seeds for wintering birds! I’ve seen many birds like Goldfinches and Pine Siskins atop a dried-up flower, happily eating seeds. This, in turn, will also help disperse them for more beneficial flowers!
Other great yellow perennials out there, like dandelion and Birds-foot trefoil, provide a great nectar source for pollinators. Still, most don’t consider those something to grow, especially dandelions.
Out here in the country, we leave our dandelions for wildlife and because it’s pretty. You may choose to let a couple of them grow somewhere as well. You might be surprised how many bees and other pollinators will survive because of them!
There are also other yellow perennials out there if you love yellow, like daffodils, tulips, and varieties of lilies. But those aren’t favored by bees and butterflies quite as much as those listed here.
I hope you’ve found some new favorite yellow perennials for your pollinators in this list! Do you have any other ones to add? What different colors are you interested in? Please leave a comment below! 🙂