How to attract bees to your vegetable garden | Marigold, Salvia + Lavender

Attract bees to your vegetable garden by planting bright annual flowers like Marigold and Dianthus. Perennial flowers like salvia and lavender are also great for attracting bees. Planting fruit in your vegetable garden like strawberries, tomatoes and zucchini will also attract bees and add a bee hotel to give native bees a place to rest.

Flowers that attract bees to your vegetable garden

Annual FlowersPerennial Flowers
MarigoldSalvia
AlyssumLavender
AsterButterfly Bush (Gaura)
Poppies & Dianthus Star Jasmine
Strawberry flowers will attract bees to your vegetable garden.

These are just a short list of my favorite flowers to attract bees. My ultimate choice is the butterfly bush which is one of my favorite plants., I will plant at least one in each of my gardens when I move in. Butterfly bush or Gaura a beautiful Australian plant covered in pink flowers and the bees love it.

Gaura or butterfly bush will attract bees to your vegetable garden

Why bees are important to your vegetable garden

Bees are pollinators which means they will help to fertilize flowers so the plant can develop fruit. Tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant are all dependent on pollinators to visit and transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Strawberries will also need pollinators to visit them. When the pollen is transferred between flowers, this will fertilize the flower and allow it to grow the delicious strawberry.

Other pollinators in the vegetable patch

There are a range of insects that visit which can pollenate the plants in your vegetable patch. Here are a few insects that are in my garden often pollenating my vegetables.

Butterflies

These are my favorite pollinator (apart from bees of course). The greater the variety of flowers you have in your garden, the more butterflies you will attract. I have seen beautiful blue-winged butterflies flying around my garden visiting the flowers and moving the pollen around.

Butterflies are fantastic pollinators for fruit in your garden.

Flies

Most people find flies annoying but they can actually pollenate your plants in your vegetable garden. They don’t move the pollen as efficiently as bees but they definitely help in your garden. Hoverflies are fantastic pollinating insects in your vegetable garden.

Hoverflies are great pollinators in your yard.

Moths

Moths are fantastic pollinators in your garden. We don’t always see these guys doing their work to pollenate our garden because they do most of their work at night. They will however help to pollenate the fruit in your vegetable garden.

Moths are fantastic pollinators in your garden.

Vegetables that attract bees

Here are some vegetables and fruit that you can plant in your yard that will attract bees and other pollinators.

Winter GrowingSummer Growing
Snow peasZucchini
BeansPumpkin
StrawberriesTomato
 ChivesAubergine (Eggplant)
 Sugar snap peasCapsicum
 Cucumber

Most vegetable gardens will have a mix of fruit and vegetables. Technically tomatoes and capsicum are fruit because they contain seeds. But either way, they will produce flowers and attract bees and other pollinators.

Herbs that attract bees to a vegetable garden

Rosemary will be a great bee attractor when in flower. Rosemary has small purple flowers that the bees will love. This Mediterranean herb will like a dryer spot in your garden. You could plant this on your garden path or somewhere near your vegetable patch. The bees will find their way over to the vegetable patch after collecting nectar from the rosemary.

Rosemary grows small purple flowers that are great for attracting bees.

Insect hotels to attract bees to your vegetable garden

Insect hotels can be a great home for native solitary bees. They will find a home in the tiny holes in an insect hotel. It can also be a home to flies and wasps that will also help to pollenate your fruit.  Many bees will be living in hives in huge colonies and travel to your vegetable garden but solitary bees will love the option of living in your insect hotel.

Check out the video below to find out how to make an insect hotel yourself.

How to attract bees to tomato plants

Planting marigolds next to your tomato plants is the best way to attract bees and they also deter white flies.  They will look gorgeous in your garden and you will have more tomatoes to show for it. Marigolds actually release limonene which will surround your tomato plants and deter the flies. This is a natural substance and also exists in citrus peel.

Bees love tomato flowers.

Tricks to attract more bees to a vegetable garden

Don’t use pesticides

I am growing all of my plants organically in my garden so I never use pesticides or inorganic fertilizers. This is really important if you want to attract bees to your garden. They can be very sensitive to chemicals so it is best to avoid spraying or adding them to your garden.

I have been aiming to increase the biodiversity of my garden by planting a variety of flowers and shrubs, adding natural mulch and improving the soil. This will help to create a healthy eco-system in your garden space were predatory insects can help to deal with issues on your plants.

At the moment there are little aphids living on the new growth tips of my Star Jasmine. When I looked closer however, I could see that tiny lady-bug like beetles were eating them. I want to wait for the natural eco-system of bugs to correct itself (and it has). When I looked back a few days later, the aphids had all disappeared and there was no damage to my Star Jasmine.

If I had sprayed with an inorganic oil or pesticide I could have upset the balance of insects and bees.

Plant native flowers

It is always a great idea to introduce native flowers to your garden, no matter where you live. I will always try to bring in a few native species that flower at different times of the year so that the bees always have something to collect pollen from. I have added Butterfly bush so far and will look for some other flowers to add as I go.

A beautiful native butterfly bush that bees love

Plant bright annuals

I always love to add annuals to my garden if I can. I have just planted some sweet peas, which are grown for their bright flowers and some viola. Viola are like mini petunias and grow really well from seed. I am keen to see how many bees will arrive in my garden this winter after these have all sprouted.

This is the first time I am growing sweet peas but was keen to give them a go as they come in beautiful pink and purple colors so will look amazing in my garden if they all grow well.

Flowers to attract bees to my vegetable garden

Plant a diverse mix of plants and flowers

Diversity is key to attracting bees to your garden. They love a lot of choice when it comes to collecting pollen from your flowers. I choose a variety of colors including purple, pinks and whites because they are most attractive to bees in my garden.

I found out that bees cannot see the color red, which is probably why they are not landing on my canna lily flowers very often.  I am hoping that when my star jasmine starts to flower, it will be covered in bees because of its beautiful scent and bright white flowers.

Do Marigolds attract bees?

Marigolds are a great flower to plant near or in your vegetable garden to attract bees. Marigolds are a orange-yellow flower which is incredibly attractive to bees. You can get dwarf or large varieties depending on the space you have in your garden. These are a great addition to any space, even if you don’t plan on growing vegetables.

Will butterflies come when the bees come?

I have found that butterflies are attracted to the same flowers that bees are attracted to. I find that they won’t be on the same flowers at the same time, but will visit the flowers at different times of day.

Happy planting.

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