Here are 5 perennials that are great for attracting pollinators:
Penstemon: Some flowers are better than others for pollinators and some flowers will attract different kinds of pollinators than others. Flowers that have a tubular flower shape are very welcoming to hummingbirds and hummingbird moths. Penstemon flowers are tubular in form and a great attractor to pollinators. They start blooming early summer. Some varieties continue to bloom even after their initial bloom. Penstemon Red Riding Hood and Penstemon Sour Grapes are two excellent bloomers that continue after its initial bloom.
Echinaceas: Echinaceas, also known as cone flower, are another great staple plant perennial that attracts pollinators. Butterflies and bees love cone flower. Once in bloom cone flower will continue to bloom all summer long. The blooms themselves are long lasting too, so you will get floral interest from the first sign of color through to maturity.
Salvias: Another tubular flowered plant that is a good pollinator attractor is Salvias. There are so many different kinds of Salvias out there, you are sure to find one you like. My personal favorite is Salvia Ultra Violet. It is relatively new to the market. It has an upright, shrub-like form and produces electrifying purple flowers all along its long flower stems. Bees and hummingbird especially like Salvias.
Solidago: Solidago plants often get a bad rap and turn people away and at first I can understand why people would not want to plant Solidago, aka goldenrod, in their garden. Some people think they have allergies to it, while others wouldn’t bear to plant something in their garden that is so readily available in the wild. Well the Solidago sold in nurseries is not like what you see along the road. The flowers and habit are similar but they are bred for cultivated production and gardeners. For instance, Solidago Solar Cascade is a weeping golden rod. Its beautiful golden yellow flowers droop when in bloom, similar to the look of Wisteria. All pollinators love Solidago. Most importantly it has a later bloom time so it gives them something fresh to feast on as some of the other summer perennials are nearing their end.
Lavender: Lavender is one of those good all-around plants. It is great for pollinators and it is useful for us as well. For us (humans) lavender truly is good for the soul. The aroma in the garden is lovely but if you want to bring the scent inside harvest some of the long fragrant blooms for a little taste of the outdoors inside. The blooms once cut dry very nicely and will last for years. Now the bees love lavender too. In fact I was just out visiting my lavender and all I heard was the buzzing of bumble bees getting the sweet nectar from my plants. Butterflies and hummers will be attracted to it as well but the bees especially love lavender.
One complaint I get often about lavender is how hard it is to grow. And yes I agree some of the older varieties were finicky about moisture and temperature. But fear not, Lavender Phenomenal has excellent breeding and once planted this lavender will be the last lavender you ever buy. It holds up well to moisture extremes once established. Cold hardiness is also what makes Lavender Phenomenal so special. It has great winter survivability. In fact all of our Lavender Phenomenal have already been over wintered once in our zone 6 nursery.