My Favorite Fall Flowers for Pollinators

Phacelia Lacy Fiddleneck buckwheat pollinator garden

Fall flowers in the garden are important to pollinators such as honey bees because they need to store up as much pollen and nectar as possible before winter arrives. These stores are necessary to sustain them through the winter because they do not hibernate and they need to eat while keeping the hive warm. The average hive needs fifty to sixty pounds of honey to survive until spring.

Bumblebees on the other hand do not overwinter colonies. The last brood of the year consists of several queens that hibernate. And although her metabolism rate slows allowing her to live for long periods while burning very little fuel, the queen still needs some food.

Spring Bloomers for Pollinators

So as a gardener I am always looking for plants that provide food very early in the spring and late into the fall. My favorite early spring bloomers are the heather ‘Adrienne Duncan’ and the ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple.

Fall Flowers for Pollinators

It is easier to fill your garden with fall flowers in our zone 8a climate. For the fall, I have five favorites that bloom steadily until the first frost.

Winter Squash

Winter squash bloom fall Okay, this one is a little bit of a cheat since I would grow winter squash even if they did not feed my honey bees. That being said, they have been a great source of pollen for my bees even this late in October. The acorn squash succumbed to powdery mildew a few weeks ago, however my pumpkins, sweet meats and butternut squash are all still blooming.

Fall Asters

Fall Asters Fall asters are one of the easiest to grow and put out so many blooms that the bees never need to go far to find nectar. New cultivars are coming out every year with more color variety and compact plants that fit well in sun gardens. The deep purples seem to draw in the most honey bees. In order to keep these blooming in my garden I deadheaded them at the end of September.

Lacy Fiddleneck

Phacelia Lacy Fiddleneck and bumblebee While Phacelia or Lacy Fiddleneck is a prolific reseeder and can be invasive, it is my new favorite for honey bees, hover flies and bumblebees. I plant them in late April and they bloom in June. I pull up the plants in July and then water the patch thoroughly causing the fallen seeds to sprout and rebloom in September and October. There is no better plant for native bumblebees.


basil blooms in fall It is always hard to say goodbye to my basil, but toward the end of the summer it is time to turn them over to the honey bees. Frankly, I get tired of pinching out the flowers. Their white flowers are very inconspicuous but their scent is alluring to honey bees. Of course I freeze plenty of pesto before letting them bloom and eventually go to seed.


Borage Borage is constantly blooming from spring into fall with new blooms appearing every day. There are not many plants that can match the cobalt blue flowers that adorn this medicinal plant.  It does reseed readily, however the seedlings are easy to pull up.


Each year I try new fall bloomers to broaden the bee’s options in both my vegetable and flower gardens. However, planting these five easy-to-grow varieties will always give me constant blooms until frost. If you have fall favorites for the pollinators, please share them in the comments below.


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