4 blue flowers
for bees

Did you know that blue is the most popular color in the world? But humans aren’t the only creatures who like this soothing color. Bees, those crucial, busy little pollinators, love blue flowers, too.

Let me walk you through a gallery of blue flowers that’ll attract and feed hosts of bees (and butterflies!) in your garden.

‘Blue Giant’ glory-of-the-snow
Chionodoxa forbesii

One of the earliest bloomers, this pretty little bulb’s common name comes from the fact that you’ll often find it blooming while there’s still snow on the ground.

It’s a great rock garden plant, or, like many bulbs, it thrives under the branches of deciduous trees. There, plenty of light reaches the plant before the tree leafs out, and it doesn’t mind the dry soil under the tree while it’s dormant. Glory-of-the-snow is a good pick in a wild area of the backyard because deer usually leave it alone. But bumble bees, some of the earliest bees to emerge in spring, will delight in this food source!

Plant bulbs 2 to 4 in. deep and apart. These plants will spread slowly and naturalize to form drifts of color.

Type Bulb

Blooms Blue with white centers from late winter to early spring

Light Full sun to part shade

Soil Moist, well-drained

Size 4 to 8 in. tall, 3 to 5 in. wide

Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 8

Heat-tolerant AHS zones 8 to 1

Source Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

Bachelor’s button
Centaurea cyanus

Bachelor’s button is very easy to grow from seed, and it reseeds prolifically. In cool climates, plant the seeds after the last frost. In warm zones, where temperatures don’t drop below freezing, you can sow them in late fall for spring flowers. (In warmer zones, where it gets an earlier start, bachelor’s button may stop blooming by midsummer; it’s a summer-long annual in areas where summers are cooler.)

Want to enjoy bachelor’s button even longer? Harvest some to dry. Cut long stems when the flowers are just fully open, and hang them upside down in a warm, dry area, out of direct sunlight. You’ll be able to enjoy them for months indoors! Be sure to leave some standing for bees to visit.

Type Annual

Blooms Blue from early summer to fall

Light Full sun

Soil Average, well-drained

Size 12 to 36 in. tall, 9 to 24 in. wide

Cold-hardy NA

Heat-tolerant AHS zones 12 to 1

Source J. L. Hudson, Seedsman

‘Blue Glow’ globe thistle Echinops bannaticus

Here’s the right plant to add a cool note to that hot strip along the south side of a house or next to the driveway. It grows happily in even poor soil, as long as it has good drainage. The hefty 1½- to 2-in.-wide blooms offer a great landing and feeding area for bees and other pollinators.

Although it’s an easy plant to grow, be sure you’re putting new plants right where you want them — they form tap roots that are hard to divide or transplant. And when you handle them, be sure to wear gloves, as the stems and leaves have spiny bristles.

Type Perennial

Blooms Blue mid- to late summer

Light Full sun

Soil Very well-drained

Size 2 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide

Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 8

Heat-tolerant AHS zones 8 to 1

Source Select Seeds

‘First Choice’ bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis

A little smaller and later blooming than some other bluebeards, ‘First Choice’ will keep feeding the bees until a hard frost. In fact, if you stand near a plant on a sunny fall day, the entire plant will buzz and vibrate gently because of all the bees swarming over it. (Don’t worry — they’re a lot more interested in flowers than they are in you!)

Bluebeard often suffers winter damage on the stems, so it’s usually best just to cut them back to 5 or 6 inches tall in early spring. It blooms on new growth so you won’t lose any flowers and you’ll have a neater, more compact plant when the stems grow back.

Type Shrub

Blooms Blue from midsummer to frost

Light Full sun

Soil Average, well-drained

Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide

Cold-hardy USDA zones 5 to 9

Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1

Source Lazy S’S Farm Nursery

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