Garden Photo of the Day

Stephanie’s Favorite Pollinators

Diverse plantings attract diverse pollinators

hummingbird feeding on salvia

Today we’re heading to Averill Park, New York, with Stephanie Stewart.

These are shots of some of my favorite pollinators. The hummingbirds are attracted to salvia (Salvia guaranitica, Zone 7–10 or as an annual), honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), and trumpet vine (Campsis radicans, Zones 5–9) in our garden. The butterflies love the many colors of phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8), coneflowers (Echinacea species and hybrids, Zones 4–9) and Hydrangea. The hummingbird moth is especially interested in bee balm (Monarda spp., Zones 4–7) in reds and pinks.

Growing a wide variety of plants attracts them all!

hummingbird flying toward purple salviaHummingbirds come in for a sweet nectar snack from salvia blossoms. The long, tubular flowers of salvia evolved to reserve the nectar for hummingbirds, as other pollinators don’t have long enough tongues to reach the nectar. But sometimes bees—especially bumblebees—cheat a little, doing something called “nectar robbing.” They bite holes in the base of the flower to sneak in and get the nectar sideways. If lots of bees start nectar robbing, you won’t see as many hummingbirds on your salvia.

hummingbird feeding on salviaThough many hummingbird-pollinated flowers are red, they aren’t always, and hummingbirds are happy to visit any flower with abundant nectar.

white hibiscus with pink centerA lovely hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus hybrid, Zones 5–9) bloom, with a darker pattern in the flower center called a nectar guide, which helps pollinators home in on the sweet reward.

orange coneflowersIf you are aiming for pollinators, choosing echinacea varieties with the normal single row of petals like this orange hybrid will provide the most nectar and pollen, as opposed to the double-flowered forms with extra petals.

hummingbird flying toward pink flowersA hummingbird approaching trumpet vine, a classic red-flowered plant specializing in hummingbirds as pollinators.

two butterflies on a pink coneflowerButterflies rejoicing in echinacea blooms

butterflies near bright pink coneflowersMore butterflies stop by on brilliant pink echinaceas.


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View Comments


  1. gardendevas 08/06/2021

    Splendid photos - thanks for sharing!

  2. btucker9675 08/06/2021

    Wondrous way to end the week! I have several lantanas in very sunny beds - they get huge - and they are always covered in all kinds of butterflies. Also have a variety of plants chosen specifically to draw pollinators, especially hummingbirds. Two hummingbird feeders as well that I especially use in the last months prior to when they are heading further south for the winter.

  3. nicki_s 08/06/2021

    Gorgeous photos! And very interesting fact about nectar robbing.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 08/06/2021

    Wow! Your photography is so professional! It's just amazing!
    I've learned something very interesting from you about bees piercing the sides of the Black 'n Blue Salvia, I thought I saw a bee do that and was not sure what what going on until now!
    Thanks for this beautiful and informative garden post!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/06/2021


  6. Mashabear21 08/25/2021

    This is awesome! You have a touch of creativity, the photos look stunning. | Toledo Deck Pros

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