A list of 10 Purple flowers for Wild Bees?
What’s wrong with a general list of garden plants for wild bees?
Consider this –
You’ve taken your children to a Wild about Gardens event and helped them to make a home for mason bees.
But you didn’t buy any of the plants for pollinators that were for sale because the ones they had all had yellow flowers and you like purple ones.
You get home and the children (bless them) keep going on about needing flowers for wild bees in your garden.
Being children, they’re not convinced when you prove that the foxgloves, Digitalis, and Verbena bonariensis already growing in your garden are great for wild bees.
They’re keen, these children of yours (don’t knock it, use it for ammunition when they’re reluctant to do their homework) and have sourced some other purple flowered plants on the internet. You take a look and your first thought is “I don’t want those in my garden!” The plants are too tall, too messy; just do not fit in with your planting scheme. But, good parent that you are, you’re reluctant to give a resounding “No” to your offspring when they’re doing their best.
So, what do you do?
You turn to Plews Potting Shed, of course!
There’s a good chance that we’ve got a helpful list somewhere. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what this gardening blog is about. A list of 10 purple flowers for wild bees to take you through spring, summer, autumn and even winter in your garden. Not that many wild bees are around in winter, but you will see the occasional bumble bee.
So this isn’t just a repeat of other lists, I’ve aimed to find purple flowering plants that are a bit unusual. I mean, it is your garden and you want to enjoy looking at it. some of the flowers are delightfully scented too.
But first some general tips if you’re inspired to look for more purple flowers and good garden plants for wild bees. What should you bear in mind when choosing flowering plants?
- Simple flower shapes, such as single blooms and open flowers
- Have flowering plants all year round if you can
- Choose pollen and nectar rich species
- Plant a range of flowering plant species as different bees like different types of flower
Purple flowers for Wild Bees – Spring
Geranium phaeum ‘samobar’
Also known as the dusky cranesbill. Geranium phaeum ‘samobor’ has dark markings on the leaves for extra interest. The simple, open flowers are popular with wild bees.
Symphytum x uplandicum variegatum A comfrey with purple flowers for the bees. Plus, striking variegated foliage that you can still cut and add to your compost heap when it goes over.
The Bearded iris, flowering in April and May. Lots of gorgeous purples to choose from. Bumble bees are sometimes less keen on this particular iris than the solitary bees, but they will still ‘use’ it.
Purple flowers for Wild Bees – Summer
The perennial cornflower, blue flowered form is often seen in gardens. However, Centaurea montana ‘amethyst in snow’ has white petals and a regal purple centre. Very distinctive. Cut back stems as flowers fade and enjoy both fresh new foliage and more flowers.
Purple scented Purple scented Phlox paniculata, naturally. Phlox ‘blue paradise’ despite its name, has violet petals with deep purple eyes. And a wonderful scent for you and the bees.
Rosa ‘eyes for you’ is a floribunda bush rose with a strong citrus fragrance and open flowers. The mauve petals have a deep purple blotched centre – it’s definitely a show stopper rose to impress your visitors – whether they’re humans or wild bees!
Purple flowers for Wild Bees – Autumn
Sedum telephium ‘purple emperor’ has dark bronze-purple foliage and red-purple flower heads. As well as wild bees liking the flowers, the seed heads are attractive to insects and birds.
Penstemon ‘blackbird’ has dark purple flowers that bloom all summer and through autumn until the first frosts. If that’s too dark for you, Penstemon ‘juicy grape’ is a lighter purple. Penstemons are such good garden plants. Bees love them and you’ll love the richly coloured flowers. Flowers for longer if deadheaded.
Purple flowers for Wild Bees – Winter
Viola oderata – Sweet Violet
Flowers in late winter and early spring, February – April. A native species, sweet smelling and one of my favourites. It was a popular Valentine’s Day flower for the Victorians and into the early years of the twentieth century.
Winter flowering heathers
Calluna species of heather are excellent on acid soils. Whilst Erica carnea will live happily in a more alkaline soil. Both have purple flowered varieties which will flower all winter long, to the delight of any bees that may visit your garden.
Purple flowers for Wild Bees – a little extra
And guess what, if those lovely children of yours complain about you buying yet more purple flowers, you can turn round to them and ask: “Did you know that purple is the best colour for attracting wild bees to flowers?” We parents have to keep one step ahead, after all!
Do check out the blog suggestions below for further planting inspiration. And do get in touch for a planting design to suit you, your family, your garden and the wild bees.
Wild About Gardens Week takes place round about October half term, roughly the last week of October.
The Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts have been encouraging us to focus on the wild bees in our gardens this year.
Wild about Bees is, of course, part of their ongoing joint initiative, Wild About Gardens. The National Pollinator Strategy, launched in 2014, is a 10-year plan to protect all the UK pollinators. With the collaboration of organisations like the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the 2017 emphasis has been wild bees.
Most of all, enjoy your garden and have fun being wild about bees during Wild about Gardens Week and beyond!
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