Pollinator Plants to Grow

Monarch butterflies and other native pollinators like bees, bats, and moths play important roles in the natural world. Some pollinators—like the monarch butterfly—are struggling to thrive here in Central Oregon. The good news is you can help by planting your own pollinator garden!

Monarch butterflies and other native pollinators like bees, bats, and moths play important roles in the natural world. Some pollinators—like the monarch butterfly—are struggling to thrive here in Central Oregon. The good news is you can help by planting your own pollinator garden! Here are some suggestions on native plants to add to your pollinator garden—whether it's in your yard, garden, or on your balcony.

Wax currant. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
Wax currant. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
Wax Currant (Ribes cereum)
Other common names:
Western red currant

An early spring blooming shrub that grows up to six feet tall, wax currant has white or pale pink flowers that hang in clusters at the tips of its branches. It attracts a large number of native bees as well as hummingbirds. Wax currant enjoys full sun in dry to moist well-drained soil and is not tolerant of shade.

Bloom time: Early spring


Lewis flax. Photo: Land Trust.
Lewis flax. Photo: Land Trust.
Lewis Flax (Linum lewisii)
Other common names: Western blue flax

This spring blooming blue-purple flower is a showstopper! Flax forms a mound of densely clustered, thin stems that grow 8-24 inches tall. Lewis flax prefers sun and moist to dry, sandy or rocky soil. It makes an excellent choice for rocky gardens and containers. They will self-sow once established. Lewis flax attracts butterflies and bees.

Bloom time: Late spring - early summer


Threadleaf phacelia. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Threadleaf phacelia. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Threadleaf Phacelia (Phacelia linearis)
Other common names: Linear-leaved phacelia, narrow-leafed phacelia

A pop of bright color in its typical sandy soils! Threadleaf phacelia has wide, bowl-shaped flowers up to 1/3" across. The flower is white to pale blue in the center with purple edges. Its stem is coated in hairs. They grow 3-20 inches tall. Plant threadleaf phacelia in full sun to partial afternoon sun. Native bees, butterflies, and moths are fond of these blooms.

Bloom time: Late spring - early summer


Munro's globemallow. Photo: Land Trust.
Munro's globemallow. Photo: Land Trust.
Munro’s Globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)
Other common names: Orange globe mallow

This showy native has beautiful bright orange blooms and sage-colored to dark green leaves. Grows 8-32 inches tall. It does well in dry or rocky soils, especially volcanic soils. Globemallow attracts many species of bees, including some which require pollen and nectar only from this plant!

Bloom time: Summer


Western columbine. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Western columbine. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Other common names:
Crimson columbine, red columbine, scarlet columbine, Sitka columbine

A well-known and loved flower in Central Oregon, western columbine has distinct bright red flowers with some yellow that hang upside down. Flowers have 5 spurs with rounded tips. Plant grows 8-48 inches tall. Western columbine loves open to partly shaded areas with moist soil, but can tolerate drier soil. It easily reseeds itself. It is very popular with hummingbirds and butterflies!

Bloom time:
Summer


Showy Townsend daisy. Photo: Land Trust.
Showy Townsend daisy. Photo: Land Trust.
Showy Townsend Daisy (Townsendia florifera)
Other common names: Showy Townsendia

Bees, butterflies, and other insects love this short daisy. Plants have 18-30 pink, pale lavender, or white ray flowers. The stems are leafy, often branched, and grow 2-8 inches. Showy Townsendia daisies enjoy full sun and are drought tolerant. They can grow in gravelly and sandy locations.

Bloom time: Summer


Woods' rose. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Woods' rose. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Woods' Rose (Rosa woodsii)
Other common names: Pearhip rose, interior rose, western wild rose

Delicate, deep pink to rose blooms make this flower a delight to have in your garden! Shrub grows 3-6 feet tall with many branches. Like most roses, it has thorns on its stems. Flowers have 5 petals that are around 1 inch long. Woods' rose likes part shade to full sun and moderate to high water. Birds especially like the rosehips, and the flowers are beneficial to native bees, caterpillars, butterflies, and moths.

Bloom time: Summer


Lowly penstemon. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Lowly penstemon. Photo: M.A. Willson.
Lowly penstemon (Penstemon humilis)
Other common names: Low beardtongue

This native penstemon has bright blue flowers that grow on stems 4-10 inches tall from basal rosettes. It is drought tolerant and enjoys full sun. There are many native penstemons; pick a color that suits your garden and complements other bloom times. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and native bees all love these blooms.

Bloom time: Summer


Lupine. Photo: Joan Amero.
Lupine. Photo: Joan Amero.
Lupine (Lupinis genus)
Other common names: Many depending on the variety!

There are many kinds of native lupine. Plant sizes range from short, low-growing varieties that like dry soils, to tall bushes that would grow along a river. Most flowers are purple, blue, or lavender. Lupine typically grow on erect stems coming from basal leaves. Pick your favorite to complement bloom times of your other garden plants. Lupine attract butterflies and bees.

Bloom time: Summer


Showy milkweed. Photo: Darlene Ashley.
Showy milkweed. Photo: Darlene Ashley.
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosaia)
Other common names: None

As its name implies, this native milkweed has showy rose-purple flowers in late summer. Leaves are widely oblong with the plant growing 18-36 inches tall. Milkweed likes sun and can handle less water. It grows via rhizomes, so be careful because it will spread! Milkweed attracts hummingbirds, butterflies (it's a host plant for monarchs!), moths, and native bees, including the western bumble bee (a species of conservation concern in the West).

Bloom time: Summer


Common yarrow. Photo: Joan Amero.
Common yarrow. Photo: Joan Amero.
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Other common names:
Western yarrow, milfoil

Common yarrow has flat-topped clusters of small white blooms that can also be pink or purple. It grows 1-2 feet tall with fern-like, fuzzy leaves. Common yarrow grows in damp to dry soil and is drought tolerant. Deep roots often help with erosion. It spreads through rhizomes, so be careful! This is a pollinator workhorse with birds, bees, butterflies, and moths all enjoying its blooms.

Bloom time:
Summer


Narrowleaf milkweed. Photo: Land Trust.
Narrowleaf milkweed. Photo: Land Trust.
Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)
Other common names: Narrow-leafed milkweed, Mexican whorled milkweed

Central Oregon's other native milkweed, it has narrow leaves like its name suggests. It grows 12-36 inches tall and has white to lavender colored flowers. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant. Narrowleaf milkweed also spreads via rhizomes, so be careful where you decide to plant it! Native bees love this milkweed! Planting both types of milkweed together is also beneficial to monarchs.

Bloom time: Summer - fall


Snow buckwheat. Photo: Mike Lattig.
Snow buckwheat. Photo: Mike Lattig.
Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum)
Other common names: 
None

A low-growing, drought tolerant native. Snow buckwheat has sage green leaves, tall stems that are covered with white hairs, and white or light pink flowers. Flowers cover this 20 inch tall plant and provide late-season food for native bees and butterflies. Snow buckwheat enjoys rocky soils.

Bloom time:
Late summer - fall


Hoary aster. Photo: Mike Lattig.
Hoary aster. Photo: Mike Lattig.
Hoary aster (Dieteria canescens)
Other common names: None

This aster family native is covered with bright purple ray flowers. Plants grow 6-30 inches tall with diffuse branching, making them a little bushy. Hoary asters like dry soils and limited water. They are visited by sweat and honey bees as well as cabbage white butterflies and moths.

Bloom time: Late summer - fall


Canada goldenrod. Photo: Jay Mather.
Canada goldenrod. Photo: Jay Mather.
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Other common names: Meadow goldenrod

A 2-5 foot tall plant topped with a large club-shaped cluster of yellow flower heads that blooms in early fall. Goldenrod spreads via rhizomes, so plant carefully! It likes full to part shade, medium water, and tolerates a variety of soil types. Goldenrod provides nectar for bees, monarchs, hummingbirds, and other insects.

Bloom time: Late summer - fall



With these suggestions, you can have a beautiful, colorful garden that lasts the entire season and is beneficial to our pollinator friends. Happy gardening!


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