There are over 270 species of bees in the UK and all play a vital role as pollinators. We depend on them to get crops from many of the plants we eat.
Whether you’ve got a garden or just a few pots on a balcony, you can make a big difference to bees by choosing plants that provide them with pollen and nectar. Late summer can see many plants beginning to tail off so choosing ones that come into bloom at this time of year is a real help to bees.
Dahlias come in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes and they bloom until the frosts finally blacken them. The single-flowered types are best for bees, but the collarette and semi-double varieties also attract them. Great varieties to try include: ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and ‘Waltzing Mathilda’.
Their pretty daisies not only attract bees but also butterflies. Colours include pink, lavender, purple and white, so there are plenty of different ones to choose from. They’re perennial so they’ll return year after year.
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3. Japanese anemones
Another perennial that will return year after year, Japanese anemones come in shades of pink and white. Keep an eye on the size of the clump though as they can start to spread when they’re happy. Just dig out anything you don’t want.
4. Tender salvias
Their tubular flowers are a very different shape from the daisies normally associated with being attractive to bees, but different types of bees have different length tongues and so need different flowers from shorter-tongued types. They’re tender plants so you need to protect them from frost or take cuttings to overwinter indoors.
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A hit with both bees and butterflies, echinaceas originally come from the US. Stick to the purple and white varieties as they’re most reliable at returning year after year. The brightly coloured types are more like expensive annuals.