|Digger bee coated with pollen - Whitney Cranshaw|
Pollinators have been in decline with increasing urbanization and the mysterious honey bee colony collapse disorder. We need bees to pollinate our food. Vegetable growers need to be concerned about pollinators for their vine crops: cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins. Fruit growers are even more dependent on pollinators for brambles, strawberries and tree fruits.
|Sweat bee and honey bee - Whitney Cranshaw|
Some of the better low water and low care perennials to consider growing for bees are:
- Sunflower (Helianthus sp. but not pollen-free florist types or fancy doubles)
- Catmint (Nepeta - extend flowering by cutting back after first flowering for a second flush of bloom)
- Beardtongue (Penstemon sp. including Rocky Mountain penstemon, P. strictus)
- Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
- Mint (Mentha sp.)
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Blue mist spirea (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Silverheels horehound (Marrubium rotundifolium)
Also consider succession of bloom over the growing season. Don't know when perennials bloom? Click to find a helpful publication from Utah State University Extension complete with flower bloom time chart that is highly applicable to us in Colorado: Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond.