Living Columns & Blogs

Ask a Gardener: What to plant to attract butterflies and bees

Master Gardener Kathleen Bander, shown in May 2014, led the effort to establish a butterfly garden at North Cascades Health and Rehabilitation Center in north Bellingham. Phlox, aster and coneflower are among butterfly- and bee-attracting plants.
Master Gardener Kathleen Bander, shown in May 2014, led the effort to establish a butterfly garden at North Cascades Health and Rehabilitation Center in north Bellingham. Phlox, aster and coneflower are among butterfly- and bee-attracting plants. Bellingham Herald file

News for gardeners: Upon the recommendation of a friend, I recently visited a store I drive past at least several times a week. I was under the impression that the store, Northern Lights, sold only hydroponic supplies, something that I have wanted to try but have postponed for the near future.

To my surprise, I find that now Northern Lights has much more in the way of generalized garden supplies, and sells many of the products I use. What’s more, it sells them in large quantity, something that I’ve had to shop for outside the Bellingham area in the past. But now, here it is, and so close.

The store sells a wide variety of soils and soil amendments (like bone meal and blood meal) that are commonly used by gardeners. If you’re adventurous and want to make your own potting soil, you’ll find all the ingredients here.

The owners welcome any suggestions you might have about products, so be sure to visit, and it’s open until 7 p.m. for those needing to visit after work. Find them at 4159 Hannegan Road.

Q: I want to plant some flowers that will be immediately attractive to butterflies and bees. Can you supply a good list? Thanks.

A: Have fun watching the butterflies and bees, which are sure to be attracted to these plants. Here’s the list:

▪  Lilac Chip Butterfly Bush: seedless, so it won’t become invasive. Don’t buy any butterfly bush that isn’t seedless.

▪  Phlox: hardy perennial.

▪  Aster: fall bloomer, good for bumblebees.

▪  Coneflower: masses of tall purple blooms.

▪  Joe Pye Weed: up to 9 feet tall, prefers moist soil.

▪  Blazing Star, or Liatris: purple or white, supports a wide variety of butterflies.

▪  Sunflower: beloved by bees, many tall and short varieties and colors.

▪  Bee Balm: purple, pink, red, or white. Vigorous.

▪  Black-eyed Susan: yellow, orange, red with brown centers.

Kathleen Bander of Bellingham is a life-long gardener. Her column will appear in The Bellingham Herald weekly through the summer growing season. If you have a gardening question you'd like answered in the column, please email it to newsroom@bellinghamherald.com. For more gardening information online, go to whatcom.wsu.edu/ch/mg.html.

  Comments