How to Make a Pollinator Garden

Creating a pollinator garden is a great way to support your local bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Sometimes called a bee garden or a butterfly garden, creating a dedicated space in your yard for at-risk pollinators is good for the environment and your family.

make a pollinator garden

3 Musts For a Bee and Butterfly Garden

When planning what to start with to make a pollinator garden, there are three areas that are of top importance to include. 

  1. A water source
  2. Pollinator plants that can provide shade
  3. Pollinator-friendly flowers

There are lots of options for incorporating a pollination-positive environment in your yard. As you plan your pollinator garden, make sure to include these basic features. 

It’s also a good idea to know the pollinators that are local to your area. That way you can make sure to provide a healthy safe haven to support the ailing population right in your yard. 

Keep your garden pollinator safe by making it a pesticide-free zone. There are lots of ways to manage garden pests naturally. You don’t want to invite a dwindling population into your pollinator garden just to have them suffer from pesticide use.

What Size Should My Pollinator Garden Be?

As you plan out a garden to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and flies, keep in mind that there are various ways to lay it out. Consider companion planting to diversify and maintain garden health, making a positive impact and an easier garden experience for everyone. 

Different species are attracted to different colors of flowers, so planting a mix of helpful flowers and pollinator plants is a beautiful way to make a bee-friendly garden, no matter the size. 

A pollinator garden can be a specialized garden pot, bed, area, or dispersed throughout the yard. This doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Visit your local ReStore or other area resource centers to find supplies to build a garden bed, or try some of these repurposed planter ideas. For smaller yards or urban areas, grow bags are a simple and easy solution.

If you already have an established and well-loved garden in your yard, don’t worry about making huge changes. Make your garden more pollinator-friendly by introducing new pollinator flowers in small areas where you might have room and a small bee bath with a rock resting area under a shady bush. Feel free to disperse the bee and butterfly garden throughout your yard wherever there’s space.

Do Pollinator Gardens Need Full Sun?

Bees and butterflies like to bask in the sun, but not all areas of a pollinator garden need to be in full sun. Pollinators need access to water and shade, so make sure there are a variety of sun and shade near their favorite flowers. A bird bath, a hummingbird feeder, a small pond, or even little fairy gardens tucked into shady areas are all useful to various pollinators. 

Definitely take note of which flowers and plants need full sun or partial shade to have the most successful pollination. Just remember that the actual pollinators need a variety of sunlight options.

The Best Plants For the Butterflies and Bees

Of course, the best way to make your yard a quick attraction for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators is to plant flowers. Pollinator-friendly flowers are beautiful and diverse, and many of them have wonderful benefits for humans, too! 

Try planting these specific pollinator flowers for lovely and beneficial results that will bring the bees to your yard!


Milkweed is an attractor of bees, wasps, and butterflies. Because they produce a lot of nectar and replenish their supply every night, nocturnal moths are also attracted to them. Larger bees are especially effective at transferring pollen from milkweed to other plants.

Milkweed is so valuable to pollinators that you can get free milkweed seeds to help boost Monarch butterfly populations. Ideally, you’ll include a donation to the organizations that offer these programs.


Lavender is a useful, fragrant, and beautiful plant with several varieties. It has tons of uses in the yard, in the home, and medicinally. The lovely aroma of lavender will bring a calming presence to your yard and will draw in bees and butterflies, too! Don’t forget to make yourself some lavender lemonade, too. 

Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop is a perennial plant with light green leaves and beautiful-looking fuzzy purple blooms. Part of the mint family, this plant adds aesthetic value but is just as enticing to pollinators as mint. It is sweet and mildly minty in flavor, edible for humans, and has just as much medicinal value as mint. Try this herbal soda with anise hyssop! 


Coneflowers, or echinacea, have a unique look that is loved by gardeners and every bee, butterfly, and many birds! Also super beneficial to humans, these flowers are an asset to every yard. They self-seed, and come in a variety of colors. Coneflowers tend to grow well in pots too. 

Bee Balm

Bee balm, also known as wild bergamot, is such a pretty and colorful addition to a bee garden. They come in a variety of bright colors such as pink, lavender, and red. Known and named for treating bee stings with its medicinal properties, this is a handy flower for us to grow in our yards. The blooms are also edible and make a beautiful salad topper! 


Borage is a cute annual blue flower that makes a great companion plant for tomatoes, strawberries, and squash, making this a wonderful pollinator flower for someone with an existing garden.

Also called a star flower, these will bring all of the pollinators around while helping to keep tomato hornworms away with the attraction of braconid wasps as well as several other bee species. 

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bushes are known for attracting butterflies, to your garden’s advantage. The small purple flowers look quite a bit like lilacs, but they have a much longer bloom season. Planting this perennial pollinator is a great opportunity for a little bit of shade underneath to give bees a little water and a shady place to rest.


Yarrow is a dainty flower that is usually white or pink. Its leaves look feathery and are a beautiful bright green. In addition to supporting the pollination population, yarrow has lots of medicinal uses for humans, too! 


Calendula is an orange delight of a flower that bees love. It has a peppery taste and tons of skin-soothing uses. It comes back every year on its own and is a perfect flower to disperse around your existing garden and yard wherever there is space. 


Chives are tasty and fragrant, and if you let them flower their purple puffy blooms are an asset to bees and butterflies! Plus they make a tasty addition to your herb garden. You can even use a few flowers in this chive blossom vinegar


Sunflowers are favorites of honey bees and native bees. Pollen from these tall yellow blooms is known for improving the immune systems of bumble bees and honey bees, so definitely make space in your summer garden for sunflowers!

If you’re looking to give the gift of pollinators, check out these garden gifts and include a butterfly lover seed kit!

More Pollinator Friendly Plants and Flowers

Here’s a comprehensive list of plants that can help attract butterflies to your yard. Butterflies and hummingbirds instinctively avoid pesticides, so if anything in your garden needs treatment, make sure it’s a natural or organic intervention.

Black-Eyed Susan
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
False Nettle
Indian Paintbrush
Shasta Daisy
Silver Brocade
Spider flower
Swamp Verbena (Verbena hastata)
Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
Water Dock
Wild Senna
Woodland Stonecrop


Little Bluestem Grass
Orchard Grass
Panic Grass

False Indigo

Passion Flowers

These plants make beautiful additions to your garden or food forest.

Any way you decide to incorporate pollinator-friendly plants into your garden is a helpful and beautiful endeavor for everyone involved!

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