Much of our food supply depends on pollinators. As their populations decrease, it is important that gardeners provide what these valuable insects need to multiply and visit our gardens. So why not plant succulents for pollinators to keep them interested?
Planting a Pollinator Succulent Garden
Pollinators include bees, wasps, flies, bats, and beetles along with the beloved butterfly. Not everyone is aware, but flowers commonly rise on stalks of echeveria, aloe, sedum, and many others. Keep a pollinator succulent garden going year-round, when possible, with something always in bloom. Succulents that attract bees and other pollinators should be a big part of the garden as well as water and nesting sites. Avoid pesticide use. If you must use pesticides, spray at night when pollinators are not likely to visit. Locate a seating area near your pollinator garden so you may observe which insects visit there. If you’re notably missing a particular species, plant more succulents. Flowering succulents that attract pollinators can also be mixed with herbs and traditional flowers that also draw the insects.
Succulents for Pollinators
Do bees like succulents? Yes, they do. In fact, many pollinators like the flowers of succulent plants. Members of the sedum family provide spring, autumn, and winter blooms on groundcover and tall plants. Groundcover sedums like John Creech, Album, and Dragon’s Blood are pollinator favorites. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Pink Sedum stonecrop, with tall, massive autumn blooms are also great examples. Saguaro and sansevieria blooms attract moths and bats. They also appreciate the blooms of yucca, night-blooming cacti, and epiphyllum (all species). Flies prefer the smelly blossoms of carrion/starfish flower and Huernia cacti. Note: You may want to plant these putrid smelling succulents at the edges of your beds or farthest away from your seating area. Flowering succulents for bees include those with daisy-like, shallow blooms, such as found on lithops or ice plants, which have long-lasting blooms in summer. Lithops are not winter hardy, but many ice plants grow happily as far north as zone 4. Bees are also attracted to Angelina stonecrop, propeller plant (Crassula falcata), and Mesembryanthemums. Butterflies enjoy many of the same plants that attract bees. They also swarm to rock purslane, sempervivum, blue chalk sticks, and other varieties of senecio.
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Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.