Bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators play an important role in our global ecosystem. In fact, they are essential.

By transporting pollen from one plant to another, they make growing the food we eat and the beautiful garden spaces we enjoy possible. One of the easiest ways to support a healthy growing environment is to plant a diverse selection of plants, making sure to include the types of blooms that various pollinators love.

“Pollinator gardens provide food for bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, and other helpful species,” says Diane Blazek, Executive Director at National Garden Bureau (NGB). “In turn, they pollinate the vegetables that produce our food. They really are essential. That’s why it is important for everyone to do their part.”

10 Plants with a Purpose

National Garden Bureau chose Verbena as our Annual of the Year and Phlox as its Perennial of the Year for 2022, due in part to their popularity with pollinators, says Blazek. “Both Phlox and Verbena are beautiful, easy-to-grow flowers that are available in a wide variety of colors.”

There are so many beautiful pollinator-friendly plant choices, the container combinations are endless. Here are a few to get your pollinator containers growing.


Heat-loving Verbena are available in mounding or trailing types that can be container centerpieces or softening accent plants.

Compact Garden Phlox look stunning in larger containers while groundcover types create a cascade of early spring flowers for pollinators to feed on.

Coneflowers, or echinacea, provide a summer pollinator food source, then a fall/winter seed source, for the birds. Compact varieties can be a wonderful addition to smaller containers, while taller types serve as the focal point of the container. Since Coneflowers come in many color choices, you’re sure to find one to work with your color scheme.
#4 Sedum

Sedum flowers in late summer and early fall, providing a food source at a time when fewer floral resources are available. Look for Back in Black Sedum, an NGB Green Thumb Award winner, as a great addition to your fall pollinator garden.

The tall, spikey blooms of both annual and perennial Salvia are naturals in any pollinator garden. Extremely easy to grow, and available in several different colors and species, they look beautiful in containers all on their own. One new salvia, also a winner of the NGB Green Thumb Award, is Hummingbird Falls, and guess what, it is a hummingbird magnet!
#6 Bee Balm or Monarda

As its name suggests, Bee Balm, or monarda, is a proven feast for bees. Colorful, pom-pom-shaped blooms planted in containers capture the attention of both pollinators and humans.
#7 Lavender

The beautiful blooms of lavender are a big draw for pollinators, while the scent provides a welcome and calming invitation for all visitors to linger in the garden.
#8 Sunflower

Sunflowers now come in compact sizes that are perfect for containers. Choose from bushy, reblooming types, or dwarf types, both of which can be used in patio pots.
#9 Lantana

If you’re looking for a drought-tolerant, pollinator-friendly plant, Lantana is a good choice. Spreading varieties in a vast array of warm colors look great spilling over the edges of containers.
#10 Coreopsis

With its airy texture, Coreopsis is another excellent choice for pollinator containers. Bright-colored blooms are especially attractive to butterflies.
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