It can be ever so rewarding seeing pollinators paying a visit to your garden, to feast on the nectar-rich flowers you've been lovingly nurturing. And often it's the timeless favourites that we all know and love which are the ones that'll create a buzz with insects. In the video below, Alan Titchmarsh reveals some of his favourite blooms for attracting bees, butterflies and more, plus he shares the other benefits that these plants can bring.


Want more ideas for attracting pollinators? Discover Kate Bradbury's top spring flowers for pollinators and our lists of the pollen-rich plants and nectar-rich plants every garden needs.

Alan's favourites for pollinators:



When it comes to choosing plants for pollinators, I don't think you'll ever find a better one than catmint (Nepeta). If you look at those grey leaves, topped with these great cockades of lavender-blue flowers, you will seldom find one flower that hasn't got a bee foraging somewhere. They're an absolute magnet for bees, butterflies, all kinds of insects. And when they do go into that flop mode and just suddenly collapse, don't worry. In May, early June, you can take your shears to them, cut them down to within a couple of inches of the ground, and up they'll come again and flower all over again in late summer. Bees love them!


Hardy geraniums

The hardy geraniums - as distinct from pelargoniums, which we call geraniums but which really need a greenhouse, certainly through the winter, although they can go out in summer - the hardy ones are little magnets for bees. They've got wide-faced flowers that can be pink, blue, white, and foliage which is often aromatic. I do like plants which are dual function at least, so we've got good foliage, flowers, which on these hardy geraniums go on almost right the way through the summer from spring, right to autumn. And they attract pollinating insects as well. Brilliant ground cover, too. I mean, what's not to like?



Every spring in about April, May, my garden erupts with drumsticks. The alliums are out, and I have one border where Allium 'Purple Sensation' reign supreme until the beginning of June. And then I chop down all the heads to stop it seeding even further than it does already. But the bees love it. And I think that's the great thing about spring flowers, which suddenly wake up wildlife, and the alliums, whether they're white or purple or the sparkly ones like Allium christophii, they're absolutely gorgeous. And of course then from the garden's point of view, you get these lovely seedheads that you can dry for winter.



Foxgloves always remind me of Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck has wonderful illustrations of them growing by a gate as Jemima toddles through and in the woodland where the foxy whiskered gentleman is, you know, the fox who's going to get the duck, which she doesn't know. All these images are conjured up by foxgloves, but they're beloved of bees, you can watch them going up into these tubular flowers on a spring or an early summer day. And they're a wonderfully statuesque plant. They bring verticals to a garden. It's all too easy to have what Beth Chatto used to call 'a tray of scones' in your border - lots of humps - and the foxgloves in May and June bring these wonderful spires of elegant growth that bees absolutely love.



The way a plant looks in the garden is really only half its charm or half its beauty. Well, it can be if you get a plant that's fragrant as well. Scent in the garden is an added dimension. And with lavender, you get that in spades. You get that wonderful mentholyptus tang from the leaves when you crush them. And then the pure lavender from the flowers themselves. And bees simply love lavender. It's great for pollinating insects. It's also evergreen. Just remember once the flowers have faded, clip it lightly over. Then you'll keep that bush young for longer. It has a limited life, perhaps four or five, or if you're lucky six, seven years if you gently clip it. But regard it as a little sub-shrub to replace regularly and you'll find that you enjoy it every bit as much as the bees.

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