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Bee friendly plants for hanging baskets

As a very amateur (and newish gardeners) we have been trying very hard to get most of the plants in our garden bee and insect friendly and hope to convert some grass to wildflower meadow this year.  However I have been guilty of using non-friendly pansies, begonnias etc for my hanging baskets.  Has anybody got any good suggestions for bee friendly plants that could be used in baskets?  Common names would be appreciated not very clued up on the latin!  Many thanks! 


  • The problem is the height of most wildlife-friendly plants! You could try herbs such as thyme, chives, rosemary, sage, mint and marjoram etc which are good for beneficial insects and useful in the kitchen.  Lavender is always a winner, and I found that the bees were attracted to gazania (though I'm not sure how nectar rich they are). Sweet Williams, single-flowered Marigolds and nasturtiums are all good too. I'm going to experiment this year by sowing annual seeds, like poached egg plant, directly into containers and hanging baskets and a modern meadow mix into window-boxes.

  • Hi Bowdeeka, I'm doing the same thing this year. I know it's not a classic garden plant, but I'm going to try bird's foot trefoil in hanging baskets - I think it will look lovely. It's a favourite nectar and pollen plant with bees, and some species of butterfly breed on it. You could also try phacelia, which is more often used as a green manure. The flowers are gorgeous and will flop over the side of the hanging baskets beautifully, and are also incredibly popular with bees. You won't be able to find these plants at garden centres though, you'll probably have to grow them from seed. I've had a quick look on Google and phacelia seeds are available from a few companies, both as a green manure and a cottage garden annual. Bird's foot trefoil seeds are available from wildflower seed merchants, though you may have some growing in your lawn!

    More traditional plants to try include nepeta, cranesbill geranium, salvia. If you have these plants growing in your garden you could just divide them and plant small chunks in the hanging basket.

    Hope this helps

    Kate team

  • BowdeekaBowdeeka Posts: 4

    Thanks folks. Given me some ideas.....

  • Poached egg plant. Lovely yellow and white flowers and will eventually cascade down the side of the basket. Mine were covered in solitary bees and houseflies last year. This year I'm going to team them up with dwarf, single flowered Dahlias which the bees LOVE. Might try some Sweet Williams and dwarf scabious in my wall baskets.
  • Nepeta faassennii - flowers for ever - looks like lavendar - attracts bees and butterflies ( a 10ft border under the dining room window had 26 tortoiseshells on in September!) - going to try it in John Innes in hanging baskets this year (hanging basket rights applied for) - perennial so may never have to redo the baskets every year!!

  • I seem to do quite well with trailing fuschias in mine, bees all over them like a rash, fairly tolerant of my occassional neglect and flowered all of last summer despite the rain.

  • I've found that smaller bees and hoverflies visit annual trailing lobelia and bidens in hanging baskets. Like other contributors to this thread I grow bird's foot trefoil around the edges of tubs allowing the plants to cascade down the sides of the containers. All bee types are attracted to these. I think growing them from seed could be tricky. I buy them as small plug plants. Each plant lasts several years although they die back completely over winter. Sometimes aubretia plants have proven to be highly attractive although the current plants I have are disappointing in this respect.

    I'm experimenting with growing the annual night phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis) this year. Does anyone have any experience as to whether this plant is attractive to insects? I'm hoping its alleged night fragrance will be attractive to moths.


  • sallya42sallya42 Posts: 19

    I find that bees love bacopa, but make sure you buy the single type.  They seem to prefer the white varieties and the smaller flowered ones.  Keep trimming them back over the season to get repeat flowering

  • I have a Ribes bush in my garden and it has been visited by lots of Bumble bees.

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    Seen quite a few all over my trailing Lobelia in August/September last year. 

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