Create Your Own Backyard Pollinator Garden

Bring some buzz to your garden with native plants ideal for attracting pollinators.

Bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators are drawn to bright blooms and the delicious nectar they produce. These creatures also flock to petals and leaves as sources of shelter, water, and nesting opportunities. By cultivating a pollinator-friendly environment, you are helping boost biodiversity, mitigate invasive garden pests, and support ecosystems near and far. The key is to choose plants that thrive in the warm, humid climate of Alabama and are found in native habitats across the state.

Lobed Coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata)

Here are a few suggestions:
In the family asteraceae, Lobed Coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata) blooms from April through June and makes a lovely ground cover that easily attracts butterflies, moths, and bees. Deadheading the spent flower stalks encourages more blooms well into the fall. Coreopsis does well in partial shade and medium-moisture, well-draining soil. Songbirds such as cardinals and finches also love to make a meal of coreopsis seeds.

Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana), also known as tall thimbleweed, produces wide, inviting blooms that are a beloved treat for bumblebees and other native bees. While “taller” than other anemones, it remains relatively low-growing and can easily be incorporated into a wildflower or native plant garden as a ground cover. Blooming in spring and early summer, thimbleweed grows best in medium-wet soil and partial-to-full sunlight. The seed heads become fluffy when they disperse their seed, offering a different texture to the garden when not in bloom.

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Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana)

Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) features large, multi-stemmed clumps of starry blue flowers. Growing up to 3 feet tall, it can provide a lovely architectural contrast in the pollinator garden. Hummingbirds, carpenter bees, moths, and a myriad of butterflies flock to this shrub-like plant. It grows best in medium shade to full sun with well-watered soil. The narrow leaves turn a striking yellow color in the fall.

Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

The Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) attracts long-tongued insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds especially adapted for reaching the nectar contained in its long tubes. Bumblebees, hawk moths, and other native bees also love this perennial. Growing best in moist yet well-drained soil and dappled shade, columbine can be propagated for years and increases rapidly by self-seeding. This beautiful flower can currently be found blooming in the Kaul Wildflower Garden at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia lyrata)

Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia lyrata) is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plant that performs well in garden beds but not in containers. Named for its distinctive lyre-shaped leaves, this sage thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Blooming throughout spring and summer, it makes a lovely addition to any pollinator garden. With few disease or pest issues, it does not attract deer or rabbits but is a favorite of honeybees and butterflies. The exposed lower lip of the vibrant blue flowers makes an excellent landing platform for bees.

See these and other pollinator-friendly plants at Birmingham Botanical Gardens in the Kaul Wildflower Garden and in the Jemison Lily Garden, which includes a new, butterfly-inspired bronze sculpture by Birmingham metal artist Ajene Williams.

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