Pollinators play a critical role in our local ecosystem, and unfortunately most yards we see in St. Louis aren’t providing the natural resources they need for survival.
Luckily, small actions you can take right in your own yard can make a big impact on doing your part to save the bees, butterflies, moths, birds & other pollinator friends so important to our outdoor environment! Businesses, restaurants, and other spaces with too much lawn space can go a little greener just by adding pollinator-friendly plants to otherwise unused outdoor spaces.
One easy thing you can do to celebrate National Pollinator Week (every year, in June), is by adding a few Pollinator-Friendly Plants into your yard. You can start with just a few plants, or go all-out with a Pollinator Garden that combines the beauty of nature with sustainability on your own property.
Our resident native plant expert & landscape designer shares some of his favorite trees, vines, shrubs & plants that are beautiful and easy to incorporate into any new landscape design.
The Best Pollinator Plants for Any St. Louis Yard
- Butterfly Milkweed. Some of you might already be familiar with the Milkweeds for Monarchs : The St. Louis Butterfly Project. Needless to say, butterflies love milkweed. Planting them in your yard all but guarantees you’ll start receiving beautiful butterflies visiting your yard, including the majestic Monarch butterflies that migrate through our region annually. This native plant blooms a vivid bright orange flower and can be used in combination with other native plants to support pollinators.
- Purple Coneflower. Echinacea is practically a eco-friendly garden staple here in St. Louis (pictured above, right side). It’s very easy to grow, blooms beautiful purple flowers, and “clumps” as it grows and spreads, making it a great plant to divide and replant in new areas year after year. Coneflowers are also very drought-resistant, making them easy to care for. For large garden spaces you can incorporate a mix of other coneflowers like Longhead Coneflowers, Glade Coneflowers, or Grayhead Coneflowers for diversity and interest.
- Cliff Goldenrod. Endemic to the Midwest, Cliff Goldenrod is a Missouri native perennial plant that loves full sun and looks beautiful cascading over rock walls, borders, retaining walls, or other sunny spaces. Another “butterfly buffet” favorite! It provides nectar for moths and butterflies.
- American Beauty Berry. This perennial shrub provides small pink flowers in summer, followed by vivid purple berries in October & November. The long-lasting color and visual interest makes it a favorite shrub for our landscape designers to work with. This plant may die back fully in winter, reappearing in spring. The colorful flowers and berries are important for many local birds, especially the Northern Bobwhite. It is a deer favorite, so be mindful when planting if you have a local deer population you’d rather not attract to your garden!
- Passion Flower Vine. Also known as Maypops, this vine grows fragrant and very interesting blooms that look gorgeous climbing up a garden trellis, fence, or vertical garden space. They typically grow to around 10-12 feet in St. Louis, and are a favorite host plant for butterflies. The unique flowers make it a favorite for those who love tropical themes.
- Blue False Indigo. Also called Blue Wild Indigo, this is a smaller shrub that pollinators love. So much so, it’s included in the Grow Native! Pollinator Buffet list of recommended plants that strong support pollinators important to the St. Louis region. It’s an elegant perennial that produces tall, blue flowers that usually bloom in May & June every year.
- Wild Hydrangea. Practically everyone loves hydrangeas! They are popular, easy to grow, and are oftentimes used as a main focal point in a garden bed. However, only the native plant (Hydrangea arborescens) provides the pollen many insects rely on, like the eastern bumble bee. This plant thrives in dappled or deep shade, and provides attractive silky white flowers that open in June. It’s a great native plant to use in your landscape if you enjoy bringing in a fresh bouquet or decorating with dried flowers.
- Aromatic Aster. In the daisy family, this wildflower blooms in late fall, making it a perfect choice for adding year-round interest to many yards, especially those already loaded with spring and summer bloomers. Appropriately named, Aromatic Asters have a lovely natural fragrance that many pollinators are attracted to. They love full sun and make an excellent cut flower for vases.
- Eastern Blazing Star. If you love bright, vivid blossoms you’ll love Eastern Blazing Star for their tall, spiked flowers that bloom in late summer (August and September), then add interest in winter with their dried flower stalks that provide seeds in winter, for birds. They also attract hummingbirds!
- Bee Balm. Want to save the bees? Plant bee balm in your backyard! You’ll enjoy lovely lavender flowers while providing food for pollinators, especially bumble bees! Bee Balm attracts bees like not-often spotted American Bumble Bee as well as butterflies and hummingbirds.
The list of pollinator friendly plants perfect for planting in St. Louis doesn’t stop here. Other great choices include Foxglove Beardtongue, Slender Mountain Mint, Golden Groundsel, Curlytop Ironweed, Garden Phlox, Yellow Honeysuckle… the list goes on! Many of these plants look gorgeous with planted in a matrix with other complementing plants. Select plants based on sun/shade and soil conditions. Early spring and fall are always excellent times to plant in St. Louis.
Ready to start? Make sure you let us know you want in abundance of pollinator-friendly plants in your yard!