Plants to attract pollinators to your patch

Is there any greater pleasure than watching birds and bees enjoying the flowers in your own backyard? Not only do these pollinators help your garden beds and veggie patches flourish, they’re also key to creating a thriving ecosystem.

Tumut grevillea (Grevillea wilkinsonii) in flower, with pollinator bee

Across the planet, we’re seeing a major decline in pollinators. With 75% of the world’s flowering plants relying on insect pollinators to reproduce, our biodiversity depends on the existence of these creatures.

There are actually a few easy ways to lend a hand to our pollinators. By adding particular plants to your garden, balcony or courtyard, you can provide them with the support their important jobs rely upon.

Here’s our guide to selecting the right plants and creating a buzz in your backyard.

Opt for natives

Nodding geebung (Persoonia nutans) flowers with pollinatorWhile our pollinators will feast on all manner of flowers, it’s best to choose native species wherever possible.

Planting natives helps to preserve our valuable biodiversity and – if you choose plants that are endemic to your area – usually mean a more low-maintenance garden for you, too.

Flowering natives like grevillea and callistemon are loved by birds and bees alike.

No trees, no bees

Trees provide us with oxygen, store carbon and provide a home and food source to a myriad of wildlife – including our precious pollinators.

Black-chinned Honeyeater, eastern subspecies (Melithreptus gularis gularis) A report from Saving our Species lists the plants that can help conserve threatened nomadic pollinators in NSW, including the regent honeyeater, swift parrot, little lorikeet and black-chinned honeyeater.

The list includes eucalypts, like grey ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculate), swamp mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta), forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), narrow-leaved red gum (Eucalyptus seeana), mugga ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), white box (Eucalyptus albens) and yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora).

Other trees and plants that can help to conserve our threatened pollinators include coastal banksia (Banksia integrifolia), broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia), turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) and spotted gum (Corymbia maculata).

The report contains more information on the best times and areas to plant these species.

Paint the garden red (and blue, and white)

Slender westringia (Westringia eremcola) in flowerMany Australian native plants have evolved to have red flowers, which is thought to help them attract birds. With so many crimson-hued native plants to choose from, like our state’s emblem the waratah (Telopea speciosissima) or any of our much-loved banksia species, this shouldn’t prove too great a challenge for even those new to gardening.

Native bees are said to prefer blue and white flowers, so something like native rosemary (Westringia), fairy fan-flowers (Scaveola) or emu bush (Eremophila) will turn your garden into a hive of activity.

Food for all

Planting Wee Jasper grevillea (Grevillea iaspicula)There’s a nutritious and delicious feast awaiting people and pollinators alike, if you choose to plant certain types of herbs, fruit and veggies at home.

When in flower, herbs like oregano, dill, chives, rosemary, lavender, basil, dill and parsley will all attract bees to your herb garden or window box.

Broad beans, runner beans, rocket, apples and berries also produce flowers that our pollinating pals will think is the bee's knees.

Find out how Saving our Species is working to secure a future for plants and animals in NSW – including our pollinators.