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Video: More “Pollinator Action” in My Greenbelt Garden

Bumblebees on a Seven-Son Tree.

Like many Greenbelters, I’m alarmed by the decline of bees and other pollinators and want the plants in my tiny yard to help support them. So because the coleus I’d been growing in pots in my front garden attracted no wildlife at all, I asked garden blog readers (in this post) to suggest more pollinator-friendly annuals for pots. And as you can read in the comments to that post, they had lots of answers.

So last year I ditched the coleus in favor of some plants they recommended and also acquired a small tree that was covered with bees just minutes after setting it down on my patio. And I video’d as much summertime “pollinator action” as I could – at home and nearby.

And here’s my new video summarizing the results, with critical critter identification by my entomologist neighbor Jay Evans.

Plants in the Video

Among annuals I grew last year, Lantana is the overwhelming winner at attracting bees, butterflies and moths. They bloomed like crazy from May until the first hard frost, and the growth pattern is perfect – mostly horizontal, so there’s need to hack them back to prevent flopping. I love the bold, vibrant color! And they’re more drought-tolerant than most tropical plants.Another wonderful surprise is that they don’t need deadheading. Not only do they bloom just fine without it, but the dying blooms (above) still look good right up until they fall off, so why bother?

On the recommendation of one of my gardenblogging partners, I’d ordered them as whole plants, not seeds, from Select Seeds. Yes, the plants are more expensive than seeds but they started blooming as soon as they arrived in early May. And thanks to finding a reliable mail-order source, I didn’t have to drive all over the DMV to find them in stock somewhere. (Just don’t wait until spring to order, or they may run out. Do it in January.)

Here in my back garden, by mid-July I’d given up on the grasses in these pots and replaced them with some ‘Havana Red Sky’ Lantanas that I found at the Greenbelt Farmers Market. A perfect match for the pots!

The other completely new-to-me plant I bought from Select Seeds is this ‘Vanity’ Verbena, which did attract some bees and butterflies but didn’t have much impact in my border. As I mentioned in the video, I’m going to try a shorter, bushier variety next time – ‘Lollipop’.

My tiny front garden was already attracting pollinators to my Joe Pye Weed, bronze fennel, native honeysuckle, Nepeta and wood aster, but with the addition of tropical annuals like Verbena and especially Lantana, the wildlife action now goes on continuously for a very long season.

This year I’ve ordered even more annuals suggested by readers (to grow not just in pots but also to fill in open spots in my borders), including these new ones: ‘Graffiti’ Pentas, ‘Black and Blue’ Salvia, Cosmos (from seed), and Purple Bell Vine. I’ve also ordered a dwarf Canna from a specialist, to replace the (nonblooming) banana plant in my largest pot.

Pollinator Magnets in February and March

We’re still weeks away from being able to plant tropical annuals outdoors but I’ve noticed that some of my early blooming perennials are supporting bees – so yay! I didn’t catch the action on video or even still photo, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Hellebores in my back garden, blooming since December.
Groundcover comfrey, shade-loving and mostly evergreen.
‘Ogon’ spireas start blooming in early February!
Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

  1. Maria Silvia Miller
    | Reply

    Susan Thank you for the video on plants that attract pollinators. It was very helpful and lovely to look at those beautiful plants

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