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10 Best Annuals for Pollinators

Having a pollinator garden isn’t limited to a perennial garden bed. There are a multitude of annuals that you can grow in pots or garden beds to attract bees, butterflies, moths and birds.

If you are growing vegetables in an urban setting, here are some ideas for annuals you can plant along with them to attract the pollinators.


Cosmos are known for attracting a wide variety of butterflies and bees. Plus we love the feathery foliage. Cosmos come in shades of pink, as well as white and orange. If planted in the ground they may re-seed themselves for the next season.

Light: Full sun.
Height: Up to 24″.
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall.
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies*, beetles.

*Syrphid flies are pollinating flies. Colorful little flies can be seen hovering over flowers, thus their name “Hover Fly," also commonly known as “Flower Fly.” These Syrphid flies look like tiny bees or yellow jackets, depending on the species but are harmless to humans. They also love to eat aphids.


Zinnias are wonderful, sending up a profusion of blooms all season long until frost ends the show. There are many Zinnia varieties, with different colors and sizes to choose from.

Zahara zinnias send up a profusion of blossoms, making easy (and highly visible) masses of color that last all season. They rarely exceed 12 inches in height and bush out, so they are great for front of the garden.

State Fair gets tall – about two feet, and are perfect for middle of the garden.

Light: Full sun
Height: Up to 24″
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles


These low-growing masses of honey-scented blossoms are a pollinator magnet! They are an excellent border plant in a pollinator garden. There are multiple colors to choose from; Rose, Easter Basket, Snow Crystal, and purple.

Light: Full sun to part shade
Height: Up to 10″
Bloom Time: Summer
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles


It doesn’t get better than sunflowers when it comes to attracting pollinators and other wildlife. With tall plants and giant blossoms, sunflowers are highly visible and irresistible to butterflies, bees, and all sorts of pollinators. As an added bonus, the seed heads attract chickadees, gold finches, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers after the blossoms are spent.

Light: Full sun
Height: Up to 6+ feet
Bloom Time: Late summer
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, syrphid flies, beetles


Petunias look great in hanging baskets as they send out cascades of trumpet-shaped blossoms all season long (as long as you deadhead them regularly). You can also put them in large clumps at the front of the garden, or in window boxes.

Light: Full sun to part shade
Height: Up to 12″, but may spread out
Bloom Time: Spring/Summer/Fall
Best For: Butterflies, bees, bee flies. Hummingbirds may also visit


Lantana adds a splash of deep red, orange, and yellow in your flower bed. These drought-resistant, hot-weather plants are the perfect addition to your summer garden.

Light: Full sun
Height: Up to 36″
Bloom Time: Summer
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees, and syrphid flies

Annual Daisies

Annual daisies draw in pollinators of all types thanks to their big, showy blossoms.

The Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutenscens), which is constantly covered in interesting insects including moths and beetles.

Osteospermum (also called African or Cape Daisies) are a big hit with bees and butterflies. They also tolerate cooler, early spring weather, taking a break during the hottest part of summer before giving an encore of blooms in the fall. The blossoms close up at night and on cloudy days, only opening when they are bathed in full sun.


Pansies are great very early-season annuals that will provide a nectar source to bees and other pollinators emerging from hibernation in the spring.

Light: Full sun/part sun
Height: About 8″
Bloom Time: Spring/Early summer
Best For: Butterflies, moths, bees


Annual salvia is an easy-care, long-blooming plant that shows off dynamically colored flowers loved by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They come in red, blue, purple, pink, salmon, & white colors.

Light: Full Sun
Height: 8-36 inches
Bloom Time: Late Spring to Early Fall
Best For: Bees, Birds & Butterflies


Also known as “pot marigold” is notorious for being a bee magnet. The aromatic heads of these spring flowers can be collected and made into oils and salves to help heal skin injuries of all kinds. Colors range from orange to yellow.

Light: Full Sun
Height: 12 -14 inches
Bloom Time: Summer to Late Summer
Best For: Bees

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