Cottage Garden Plants For Bees

For me cottage garden plants NEVER go out of fashion, but even if they move in and out of popularity with humans, many of them are forever loved by bees.

Here are 12 of my favourite cottage garden plants (and shrubs) to add to your garden border if you want to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

12 Cottage Garden Plants For Bees

African lily (Agapanthus)
Available in white or shades of blue, Agapanthus are a great option for cottage garden borders, but are also sufficiently striking to be used as a statement flower in key locations, owing to their fabulous leaf growth.  A great addition to the garden, and attractive to bees.

do bumble bees like agapanthusAgapanthus are attractive to bees, and versatile in the garden.

Roses are surely a 'must have' in any cottage garden.  I especially love old fashioned shrubs and ramblers, with delicious scent and open blooms.  See my guidance on selecting roses for bees.

Bumble bee foraging on a deep pink, blousy rose.  the bee had full pollen baskets.  Side view.For bees, think open flowered roses, scented traditional types and ramblers.

Lupin (Lupinus)
Watch as bees make their way around the tall flowering spikes.  They can be prone too attack from slugs, however, so read my article about Lupins and how to protect them without using slug pellets.

bee on purple lupin flowerLupins are loved by bees, but can be prone to slug attacks

Thyme (Thymus)
No cottage garden would be complete with out a few herbs, and many herbs are excellent for bees.  I find most people are aware that bees love lavender and oregano.

However. it seems fewer people consider thyme.  Nowadays, thyme is one of my favourite herbs for bees

Scientists have discovered that thyme provides bees with a variety of medicinal benefits, in addition to feeding bees with pollen and nectar.  Learn more about this on my page about thyme.

Honey bee on pale pink Thyme flowerHoney bee on thyme - part of the bee's own 'medicines cabinet'!

Dahlias flower from summer through to the end of autumn.  They are a favourite in cottage gardens and traditional borders, and loved by bees.   Available in a wide range of shades and shapes. See Which Dahlias do bees Like?

Two lovely bumble bees, one with a red tail, the other possibly a Buff-tailed bumble bee,  sharing the same beautiful peach coloured Dahlia flowerDahlias flower from summer through to the end of autumn, and are loved by bees

Larkspur (Delphinium)
Fabulous flowers in gorgeous shades of lilacs and blues, and loved by bees.

bee on blue Larkspur (delphinium) flowers

Hollyhocks (Alcea)
Who can resist hollyhocks?  The bees definitely cannot!  Tall stems, with beautiful open trumpet blooms in a variety of flowers provide lots of food (especially pollen) for bees.

highcompress_beeinyellowhollyhockflower.pngBees love Hollyhocks!

Plume Thistle (Cirsium vulgare, Cirsium rivulare)
Having strong, upright stems, this member of the thistles is perfect for the cottage garden border. 

white tailed bumble bee on plume thistleHere's a member of the thistles you won't mind having in your garden!

Foxglove (Digitalis)
Watch bees disappear into the deep funnels of foxglove flowers, then reappear covered in pollen.  Please note, this plant is toxic to humans.

bumble bee flying toward a white foxglove flowerFoxgloves are attractive to bees, but please be aware, this plant is toxic to humans

Coneflower (Echinacea)
In a fabulous variety of colours, Echinacea are gorgeous flowers and are visited by bees and butterflies from mid summer onwards.

A butterfly and a bumble bee visiting pink Coneflower (Echinacea)Coneflower (Echinacea) - loved by bees and butterflies.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
A fabulous scented climber loved by bees and humans alike.  Can be added to scramble along a natural hedgerow, or up into trees of other supports.  Read about honeysuckle.

honey bee on white honeysuckle flowerThe lovely scented flowers of honeysuckle are attractive to bees and humans alike!

Poppies (Papaver)
Beautiful, open blowsy flowers which attract bees and a variety of other pollinators.  Poppies are easy to grow from seed.

a bumble bee worker with loaded pollen baskets foraging on a delicate yellow poppy flowerPoppies offer lots of pollen, as can be seen from the full pollen baskets on this bumble bee worker

Of course, you don't need to live in a two hundred year old cottage with a vast flower border.  With careful selection, cottage garden flowers can look great in small gardens, pots, and even geometric, modern flower beds.

See my pages on planning a bee friendly garden.

Create a
lawn for bees

  Pssst ... spread the word!

leafcutter bee on sweet pea plant sweet peas for bees