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Plants that a rubbish for pollinators

FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173

I read everywhere that plants like pansies, begonias, bedding pelargoniums, petunias, busy lizzies and hydrangeas are useless for pollinators as they do not provide food. Could anyone explain why?


Last edited: 10 July 2017 18:02:59



  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 29,733

    Most of those plants are hybrids - bred to produce bigger, more beautiful flowers and are sterile. Some double flowered plants are also not much use to pollinators as the insects cannot get through the many petals to find any pollen if it is available.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    LB is correct. It's the case for a lot of annual bedding plants. I've found Cosmos, Lobelia, fuchsias & calibrachoa are favoured here. Lacecap Hydrangeas are much better

    Last edited: 10 July 2017 18:15:03

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173

    I get that big cultivated doubles etc can prevent pollinators from entering, but I understand sterile plants (like Bowles Mauve) still produce nectar. I'd like to find a place that explains more about nectar and pollen foraging, sterility etc, if anyone has a good link. 

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 29,733

    Bowles Mauve is actually a freak of nature. You would need to research several articles on the topics you are interested in finding more about as they are complex subjects.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173

    I really had no idea that so many plants were sterile - lobelias, Geranium 'Rozanne', some viburnum and buddleias and a long list of roses. They never seem to mention it on the plant labels.

    Last edited: 10 July 2017 18:41:49

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160

    Species are never sterile or they'd die out. Hybrids often are. Mostly irrelevant to the average gardener who only wants a splurge of bright coloured flowers and dead-heads to get more flowers and wants them to flower longer not go to seed.  

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173

    I read that in many double-flowered varieties all of the reproductive organs are converted to petals, which is why they are sexually sterile.

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173

    "Mostly irrelevant to the average gardener".

    I guess it would make a difference if you were planting a wildlife garden for pollinators as the sterile plants don't produce pollen....

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160

    yes it would make a difference Firefly but if you read much on this forum you find many people are busy using insecticides to keep their plants pest free. They want the flower display.

    If you get species plants, including those you mention, they will produce pollen, Pollen is the male part of plant reproductive process. Species would have died out if they didn't have any.

    Plants have been hybridised and selected to produce bigger, 'better' flowers. They flower longer if they don''t make seed, double flowers last longer than single ones

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,449

    Another reason for developing hybrids is so that those that aren't sterile don't breed true.  If you save seed from them, the new plants will look different from the parent plant.  So you have to buy seed every year.  Cunning, eh?

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