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Over the last two years i've managed to establish a very bee friendly garden, despite being sandwiched between two very busy roads I'm looking for advice related to autumn flowering plants that are bee magnets. I have a autumn fruiting raspberry that will hopefully flower until early Oct.

I know a lot of people consider ivy to be a bit of a nuisance, but i'm considering growing it for autumn nectar source for bees and other insects. I have two sites that might be a good spot - one would involve growing in a container up a stench pipe or the other would be a west facing fence that gets 3/4 hrs of sun? 

I'm looking for suggestions for types of relatively well-behaved ivy (whilst providing lots of nectar) Ornamental would be a plus. Otherwise, i'm open to suggestions for bee friendly mid autumn + flowering and preferably native plants?

Thanks for any tidbits! 

A lot of the Asters would do, e.g. Aster x frikartii 'Monch'. This has a very long flowering season.


Ivy is a great late nectar source for bees but it takes quite a few years to become a large enough plant for it to flower. I've only ever seen bees on native ivy ... I'm not sure if ornamental ivies would get big enough to flower ?

Our honeybees are very happy on the astilbie chinensis pumilla .... bit of a thug but a nice one and easily removed if necessary. Kniphofias are also popular providing nectar and pollen ... but the most sought after plant by far in the large stands of Impatiens glandulifera (aka himalayan balsam) on our riverbank. They just love it !



It's only when ivy has reached the top of it's support and produced its arborial form that it will produce flowers and berries, and this takes several years - however, it is possible to take cuttings from the arborial form of ivy and grow them as shrubs which flower and fruit.  I've seen this done where it has been used as an attractive low hedge.

It is an offence in the UK (Wildlife & Countryside Act) to introduce Himalayan Balsam into the wild - as the seeds catapault high, far and wide, if you grow it in your garden it is virtually impossible to prevent it spreading.  I know, I lived next door to someone who had one plant in his garden.  Within two years his garden and mine were full of it, within five years it had spread into every garden along our side of the street.  It was a total pain in the neck pulling the seedlings up year after year. 

We moved house.



I grow open flowered dahlias, my favourite is a dark leaved variety with bright pink flowers called Fascination, but there are many others.. They are an absolute bee butterfly magnet, flowering from mid summer to the frosts

How about Coronilla valentina, flowers all winter long! Here it is at Bristol Botanic Garden last November - this is C. valentina subsp. glauca

 Needs a well drained warm sunny spot, at the base of a south facing wall would be spot on.


Thanks for the replies. Much appreciated. I'll rule out ivy for now then and concentrate on acquiring some of the suggested specimens. 


Just take heed of the information Dove has given re himalayan balsam.

Whilst the bees just can't get enough of it ... it is an absolute menace and it is illegal to plant it.

Be nice to see some photos when you're further on.


Hi ecokid, pleased to hear you're getting on well with your garden.

Why not grow plants you know flower in the autumn this year, and in the autumn have a look around gardens and garden centers to see what is actually in flower at the time. That way you will be able to see the colours of the flowers and size of plants that would be suitable for your garden.   You will probably see lots of flowers and flowering plants that you never even thought of.  Whatever you decide to grow, good luck, and I'm sure the bees will appreciate your efforts.

hollie hock

I'm just started to plant my garden and I'm trying to achieve the same thing as you ecokid. I've had long flowering rudebekias and scabious that flowered in October.

I like the look of the asters I've not grown them before. I've got some small seedlings of Bee balm which I think is an aster

Katherine W

I have a very soft spot for Salvia elegans, the pineapple sage... even here in SW France it is only marginally hardy, meaning, in it's native South American it should be evergreen but with us it is a tender-ish deciduous perennial and needs a deep mulch of manure and leaves to come through the winter... that said, I never lost a plant so far, and since it is very easy to strike and overwinter cuttings, which grow like the blazes once planted outside, it should be easy to keep one way or the other... I have at least of dozen big plants by now, all started from a tiny one.

ok, that was the intro, the facts are that pineapple sage has the lovely smell that the name claims, and blooms extravagantly in fiery red between the beginning of autumn and the first frosts, huge bushes of red spikes (even if you start in spring with tiny cuttings) and I always see it buzzing with bees and bumblebees. It's a favourite with the whole family here.

One time I had it with a large specimen of Mina lobata behind, an annual climber, and some Tagetes "Naughty Marietta" and the whole group was wonderfully luminous in october and buzzing with ecstatic bees.

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