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Honey Bees and Perennials

If you haven’t already read it, go into the main Foraging heading on the website and read Honey Bees and Flowers.  There is a wealth of fascinating information that won’t be repeated here. 

Most of the perennials you will find in this display are ones you are probably familiar with.  If you are good at starting things from seed that is the most economical way to grow flowers. Instead of trying to start them indoors wait until the weather is warm, plant them in a seed tray and put them outside in the shade.  Make sure they don’t dry out even once or the seeds will not germinate. Many perennials do not bloom their first year.

It is far better to plant large amounts of a couple of flowers than to just plant two or three of many different kinds of flowers.  Most of the perennials shown here bloom from mid-summer to fall. We are trying to provide flowering that occurs after the blackberries.  That’s when bees have their hardest time finding nectar and pollen.

Lastly, it’s important for you to know that the globe thistle shown is not a thistle. It’s in the aster family and the bees love it.  You will, too.


Lavender (L. Angustifolia, L. Hidcote, and others)

Blooms:   Late spring to mid-summer 

Zone:  5 to 9

Height:  1’ to 3’

Spread:  1’ to 3’

Sun:   Full

Water:   Low

Tolerates:  Drought after first year 

Other:   Low organic soil and low fertilizer produce higher concentrations of oils; spring pruning may be in order; deer resistant

Coneflowers   (Echinacea spp.)

Blooms:  July to frost

Zone:   3 to 6

Height:   1.5’ to 4’ depending on variety 

Spread:   2’ to 3’ depending on variety

Sun:  Full  

Water:  Medium

Tolerates:   Drought 

Other:   Deer resistant; comes in many colors; tolerant of most soil types


Common Milkweed (Asclepsia syriaca)

Blooms:   Mid to late summer

Zone:   3 to 9

Height:   2’ to 4’

Spread:   2’ to 3’

Sun:    Full

Water:   Low

Other:   Low maintenance; native plant; not deer or rabbit resistant; purplish-pink flowers; milky substance is toxic

Speedwell (Veronica Spicata)

Blooms:  Mid to late summer

Zone:    3 to 8

Height:   2’ to 3’

Spread:   8” to 2’

Sun:    Full

Water:   Low

Tolerates:   Drought

Other:  Grows in clumps; miniature varieties   available; deer resistant


Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia  goldstrum)

Blooms:  Late summer to fall

Zone:   3 to 9

Height:   2’

Spread:  1.5’ to 2’   

Sun:   Full

Water:   Low

Tolerates:    Heat, humidity and clay soils

Other:  Makes a good cut flower; deer resistant

Beebalm (Monarda spp.)

Blooms:  Summer through fall

Zone:   3 to 9

Height:   1’ to 3’

Spread:   1’ to 3’

Sun:   Full

Water:  Low

Tolerates:   Drought

Other:  Deer resistant


Autumn Joy Sedum (Hylotelephium telephium)

Blooms:  Fall

Zone:    3 to 9

Height:  1’ to 2’

Spread:  1’ to 1.5’

Sun:   Full to partial sun

Water:  Low

Tolerates:  Drought, clay, and shallow soil

Other:   Clumping habit; not deer resistant

New England Asters (Symphyotrichumnovae-angliae)

Blooms:  Late summer to fall

Zone:  3 to 7

Height:  3’ to 6’

Spread:  6” to 18”

Sun:   Full to partial

Water:   Prefers moist rich soil

Tolerates:  Sandy soil and clay 

Other:   Deer resistant


Blanket  Flower (Galliardagrandiflora)

Blooms: Mid summer

Zone:  3 to 10

Height:   1’ to 2’

Spread:  1’ to 2.5’

Sun:   Full

Water:   Low to medium

Tolerates:   Drought, low maintenance

Other:  Member of the sunflower family, prefers organically rich soil; deer resistant

Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro)

Blooms: July to September

Zone:  3 to 10

Height:   3’ to 4’

Spread:  1’ to 2.5’

Sun:   Full

Water:   Low to medium

Tolerates:   Drought, low maintenance, poor soil

Other:  Not a thistle! Tap-rooted; clump forming; great cut flower; cutting after flowering produces a second smaller cluster of flowers; deer resistant


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