Southern Pollinator Garden - Growing A Pollinator Garden In The South

A Butterfly In A Pollinator Garden
(Image credit: ErikAgar)

Many people today are concerned about the decline of pollinators, and take action to offer pollinator friendly plants in their gardens. While specialist bees have their native requirements, generalist bees and many butterflies, hummingbirds, and moths visit a wide range of nectar-and-pollen-producing plants in the South. 

The best offering is one of diversity, say the experts. A Southeast pollinator garden can include flowers of different colors and sizes, with varying shapes such as tubular and flat, as well as a variety of annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, and trees. Include native as well as non-native plants in the Southern pollinator garden. 

Listed here are some of the best pollinator-attracting plants, and tips to create a welcome habitat in a Southern pollinator garden. 

Southeast Pollinator Garden: Southern Plants for Pollinators 

Attracting pollinators to your yard can be as simple as planting a few favorite nectar species in containers. But to really make an impact, go further by layering a habitat with trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals that provide pollen and nectar, plus nesting material such as hollow berry canes for native bees. Choose enough plants to bloom in as many months as possible to supply foraging material year-round. Most pollinator plants need full sun to bloom well, so be sure to cite your Southern pollinator garden in a sunny spot with wind breaks to make it easier for hovering and landing. 

Here are a few Southern plants for pollinators, but there are many more. Research what grows best in your area and focus on those for your pollinator garden in the South. Also, consider adding a water source, like a wet depression in the ground or a sandy area that is kept wet for butterfly puddling. Ground nesting bees appreciate bare soil for tunneling.

For the health and welfare of the pollinators, be sure to avoid using pesticides in the garden. Synthetic as well as natural pesticides will kill the pollinators at all stages. 

Annuals – all season

  • Cosmos
  • Lantana
  • Marigold*
  • Pentas
  • Tithonia
  • Zinnia


  • African Blue Basil
  • Fennel*
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Rue*

Spring Perennials

  • Columbine
  • Golden Alexanders
  • Veronica speedwell
  • Woodland phlox

Summer Perennials

  • Anise hyssop
  • Bee balm
  • Black-eyed Susan 
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Gaura
  • Joe Pye Weed 
  • Liatris
  • Milkweed*
  • Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower
  • Purple passionflower vine*
  • Salvia
  • Trumpet honeysuckle vine 

Fall Perennials

  • Aster*
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Goldenrod
  • Sedum


  • Abelia
  • Beautyberry
  • Blueberry
  • Butterfly bush
  • Compact spicy jatropha
  • Dwarf Southern magnolia
  • Lilac*
  • Ninebark
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Spicebush* 


  • Chaste 
  • Crabapple
  • Maple
  • Paw Paw*
  • Eastern redbud
  • Pagoda dogwood
  • Tulip poplar*

*Butterfly host plant

Planting a wide variety of colorful plants is sure to bring lots of humming, buzzing, and fluttering to your Southern pollinator garden. 

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.