Top Native Plants to Attract Bees and Butterflies in Michigan

Top Native Plants to Attract Bees and Butterflies in Michigan

As gardeners in Michigan, we have a unique opportunity to support our local ecosystems by planting native species. Native plants are not only adapted to our climate but also play a crucial role in supporting local wildlife, particularly pollinators like bees and butterflies. Here are some top native plants to attract bees and butterflies to your Michigan garden.

A close up of the pink, star-shaped petals of a common milkweed plant in a field.

1. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Common Milkweed is essential for the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and the caterpillars feed exclusively on its leaves. The pinkish-purple flower clusters also attract various bees. This hardy plant can thrive in a variety of soil types and conditions.

A close up of a single wild pergamot bloom. It has long purple petals set against a background of dark green foliage.

2. Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot, or Bee Balm, produces clusters of pink to lavender flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This plant thrives in prairies and meadows and prefers full sun to partial shade with well-drained soils. Its aromatic foliage also adds a delightful scent to the garden.

A close up of the pale pink blooms of four coneflower plants

3. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple Coneflowers are native to the central and southeastern United States but are widely planted in Michigan for their hardiness and attractiveness to pollinators. Their large, daisy-like flowers with purple petals and spiky brown centers are a magnet for bees and butterflies.

A close up of a cluster of bright yellow rudbeckia flowers

4. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-Eyed Susans are easy to grow and incredibly attractive to pollinators. Their bright yellow petals and dark brown centers create a striking display in any garden. These flowers are particularly favored by native bees and butterflies and can bloom from late summer into the fall.

A close up of the purple blooms of liatris spicata

5. Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Blazing Star features tall spikes of fluffy purple flowers that bloom from top to bottom. These striking plants are particularly attractive to butterflies and bees and can add vertical interest to your garden. They thrive in well-drained soils and full sun, making them a perfect addition to prairie-style plantings.

A close up of a cluster of aster with pale purple petals and bright yellow centers.

6. Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.)

Asters are late-blooming perennials that provide essential nectar and pollen sources for pollinators as the season winds down. Their daisy-like flowers come in various colors, including purple, blue, pink, and white. New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) and Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) are popular choices for their vibrant blooms and hardiness.

A butterly with orange and black wings is perched on the bright yellow blooms of a goldenrod plant.

7. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Goldenrod's bright yellow flowers bloom in late summer and fall, providing a crucial nectar source for bees and butterflies preparing for winter. Species like Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) are native to Michigan and thrive in a variety of conditions.

A close up of tall, vibrant purple flowers in a field.

8. Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis)

Wild Lupine is an early bloomer with tall spikes of blue, purple, or pink flowers. They are especially attractive to bees, including bumblebees, which can often be seen buzzing around the blooms. Lupines prefer sandy, well-drained soils and are essential for the Karner blue butterfly, whose larvae feed on lupine leaves.

A butterfly with orange and black wings is perched on a cluster of tall, pink flowering plants in a lush garden.

9. Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe-Pye Weed is a tall, late-blooming perennial that produces large clusters of pinkish-purple flowers. It thrives in moist soils and full sun to partial shade. This plant is a butterfly magnet, particularly for larger species like the swallowtail. Its impressive height makes it a great choice for the back of borders or as a focal point in your garden.

A close up image of a beautiful flower with pointy purple petals surrounding soft white petals.

10. Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Wild Columbine features unique, red and yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. This shade-tolerant plant prefers well-drained soils and can add a pop of color to woodland gardens or shaded borders.

Tips for Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Provide a Variety of Plants: Aim for a diverse selection of plants that bloom at different times throughout the growing season to ensure a continuous food supply.
  • Avoid Pesticides: Pesticides can be harmful to pollinators. Opt for organic gardening methods and integrated pest management practices.
  • Include Host Plants: Some butterflies need specific plants to lay their eggs on. Including these in your garden can support the entire lifecycle of these insects.
  • Provide Water Sources: A shallow dish with water and pebbles can give bees and butterflies a safe place to drink.
  • Create Shelter: Dense plantings, shrubs, and dead wood can offer shelter for pollinators from predators and harsh weather.

By planting native species, you are not only beautifying your garden but also playing a vital role in supporting our local ecosystems. With these top native plants, your garden can become a haven for bees, butterflies, and other essential pollinators.

Happy gardening!

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