Include some of these flowering shrubs to provide food and shelter for our beloved pollinator pals!
Gardening is a hobby that benefits more than just the gardener. Your kids have a place to play outside, the colorful flowers brighten your neighbors’ day, and by keeping pollinators in mind, you’re giving back to the planet! Your yard can be a haven for these beneficial critters that flutter from plant to plant to stock up on food while pollinating, helping our gardens thrive.
What Bushes Attract Pollinators?
While we often first think of flowers to attract pollinators, it’s important to have a variety of plants, including shrubs that provide not only nectar but also shelter.
Butterfly Bush has long panicles of tiny flowers available in a range of colors. Most are shades of pink and purple but you can also find white and yellow to round out your pollinator garden. As you can probably guess, the fragrant flowers of this bush are a hit among butterflies and other pollinators, like bees and hummingbirds. Butterfly Bush grows quickly and now comes in many different sizes. From the smallest (1-2’ tall) to mid-size (3-4’) to old fashioned six foot tall bushes, there is one that will work in every yard. In Iowa, this bush typically blooms starting early summer and continues until frost. Butterfly bushes are notorious for being late sleepers. When other shrubs leaf out in April and May, it can take until June before butterfly bush shows signs of life.
Aronia, commonly called Chokeberry, is a deciduous shrub native to eastern North America. Pollinators are fans of the plant’s white blooms that open in late spring. And you (along with small animals) will be a fan of the shrub’s berries! The dark berries can be harvested in late August or early September, and you can eat them fresh for a mouth-puckering treat or use them in dishes like pies and jams. Fall brings brilliant orange and red foliage colors. Aronia is grown for its ornamental value in gardens, and its ability to attract pollinators makes it that much more desirable to us!
Spirea is available as an early or late spring flowering bush. Choose a variety that fills in any gaps you have, so there’s always something blooming in your yard for pollinators to snack on! Depending on the variety, this flashy bush has flower clusters that pollinators love available in pink, red, yellow, or white. Some also have showy, colorful fall foliage. Spirea is known to be sturdy and low-maintenance, yet boasts high-impact additions to your yard.
Shrub Roses are a top hit among gardeners and pollinators alike. There are tons of varieties, offering various bloom times, sizes, colors, and care needs. To best attract pollinators, opt for a Shrub Rose with brightly colored blooms. You can even take the scents and sights of summer inside with you, seeing as Roses make a beautiful cut flower! Just be sure to leave plenty of flowers on the bush for pollinators to still enjoy.
Viburnum produces flower clusters in spring, ornamental fruit in late summer, and colorful foliage later in the season, making it a perfect plant to add interest to your landscape. There are even some species native to Iowa, so select one of those since pollinators are most attracted to native plants. Besides its showy blooms, this bush is showy in itself—some varieties grow up to 10 feet tall! Prune in late winter or early spring, and throughout the rest of the year, remove any unruly or diseased branches.
Weigela is a real showstopper and is a plant that just isn’t talked about enough. It is low maintenance, is loaded with beautiful flowers in a range of colors, and has eye-catching foliage, sometimes with gold, purple, or variegated leaves. Butterflies and hummingbirds will be drawn to this medium-sized shrub. Many bloom in mid to late spring, and some even bloom again during the summer.
Shrubs are incredibly versatile—grow them on their own as a specimen plant, form the backdrop for the rest of your landscape, or use them to create a bit of privacy. Not only that, but they also add a ton of ornamental value to your yard as well as attract the pollinators we all adore to keep plants thriving. If you have any questions about the best shrubs to attract pollinators to your yard, stop by Wallace’s to talk with our experts.